Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Thanks for Giving us More of a Reason to Talk About You Barry Bonds

I was a bit late to the whole steroids-are-fucking-evil thing. As late as 2001 I was writing about the glory and grandeur of Barry Bonds' accomplishments without considering what PEDs meant for his legacy. It wasn't until Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti went public in 2002 that I actually began to grapple with the issue, and even then in only the most basic ways.

How do I feel about now? I dunno. Ask me on three different days and you might get three different answers. Mostly, I tend to feel the same way I feel when I think about my cousin who got popped for coke possession a few years ago. I disapprove. I feel uncomfortable having to confront the whole unpleasant subject and wished it would just go away, though I know it won't. But I also don't know enough about the situation to justify shunning the kid or adopting an unequivocal moral stance about it all.

Muddying up the waters further is the fact that Bonds has started out this year flat-out raking. Through 15 games he's hitting .348/.466/.804, and is on pace for something like 60 home runs. I suppose it's possible that Barry has found a new, undetectable steroid which is allowing him to hit like it's 2001 all over again, but given all of the scrutiny he's been under since his ill-fated trip to the grand jury and the publications of Game of Shadows, I have to assume that those aren't steroid-inflated numbers. I mean, even Barry Bonds isn't stupid or sociopathic enough to think he could get away with cheating this year, right? Anyone?

Anyway, I didn't know what to make of Bonds' legacy before this season started -- he certainly did fall off once he was busted, though who's to say how much a part PED withdrawal played in his decline and how much of it was simply a function of getting old. Now that he's hitting again I'm even more confused. I'll admit that confusion is something I'm particularly inclined to, but anyone who claims to have an absolutely unassailable moral position about Barry Bonds and steroids should be ignored, because they're either lying or delusional or both.

I suppose all we are left to do is wait for him to break Aaron's record, at which point we'll all write new things about how we don't know what to feel about Bonds and his legacy.