Barry Bonds is back home in Los Angeles, unemployed and unwanted in the sport he dominated for two decades. Baseball is throwing itself a party here, a coming-out party for a new wave of stars, a huge and happy step away from the steroid shadows that dogged the sport last year . . .I think it's interesting that part of this renewal, or whatever you want to call it, is led by Josh Hamilton -- a guy with a serious drug history -- and the article's money quote comes from Paul Molitor -- another guy with a serious drug history. Interesting in that it shows that baseball is a sport that gives guys second, or third, or in Hamilton's case eighth chances. I like that about baseball because, to me anyway, it implies that the sport considers the individual in ways that the larger War on Drugs does not. There's a basic humanity at work in letting a guy like Josh Hamilton work his way back when it would have been so much easier to install a mindless zero tolerance or three strikes rule and be done with it. As last night's fireworks indicate, it's an approach that has resulted in good things for both Hamilton and the game.
. . . "You've got great stories -- Josh Hamilton, Ryan Braun -- going into their first All-Star experience," New York Mets third baseman David Wright said. "I see the new generation of players coming through as pretty special. There's no negatives surrounding the All-Star game. All the stories are positive. The baseball purists can just sit down and enjoy the baseball."
The Mitchell Report linked 21 active players with the use of performance-enhancing substances. The rosters for tonight's All-Star game at Yankee Stadium include just one of those 21 -- Miguel Tejada of the Houston Astros. An All-Star game with rosters dotted with Mitchell Report alumni would be "like when Amy Winehouse won the Grammys after getting arrested," Hall of Famer Paul Molitor said.
Will we ever see this kind of rapprochement with respect to players linked to performance enhancing drugs? I seriously doubt it, and I think the whole shaming, pariah-creating dynamic of the past couple of years may be one of the hardest things for me about the whole steroids business. It's just not what has been done historically, and I have a hard time casting the vast majority of the George Mitchell All-Stars into the dustbin the way we seem to be doing.