Making a Mockery

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Barry Bonds: It's a Love Hate Thing

In the world of Major League Baseball there are two types of people, those who like Barry Bonds and those who don't. In the next few weeks of a very fresh 2006 Major League Baseball season; Barry Bonds will pass the great Babe Ruth's career homerun record and will become the second greatest homerun hitter behind Hank Aaron. Based solely on Barry Bonds' accomplishments in baseball he is undoubtedly a shoe in for Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Barry Bonds is a great baseball player; however there is a dark cloud that hangs over Bonds' career. Bonds' career is tainted with allegations of cheating through the use of steroids.

From early age Barry knew his future was baseball. His father, Bobby Bonds was a Major League Baseball MVP and 3-time all-star. His godfather is none other than Baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays. Barry Bonds was destined for greatness.

The Barry Bonds ethical dilemma begins sometime in 1998. According to a recently released book "Game of Shadows" by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, alleges that Barry Bonds started using a wide variety of steroids, human growth hormones and other drugs following the 1998 baseball season. The two authors depict Bonds as being angry and envious of Mark Maquire whom he recognized as "a juicer." Before this most recent book other allegations have circled the world of baseball. Does anyone really believe that Bonds was the only person to use steroids?

In December of 2003, Bonds was forced to appear before a grand jury involving the Federal Government's investigation of Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), a sports nutritional supplement company. Barry Bonds told a federal grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by BALCO now entangled in a sports doping scandal, but he said he never thought they were steroids. BALCO is accused of distributing undetectable steroids to elite athletes in the form of a clear substance that was taken orally and a cream that was rubbed onto the body. Greg Anderson childhood friend and personal trainer for Bonds is thought to be the middleman and the one who introduced Bonds to the world of steroids. According to court records documents seized from Anderson's home show that Bonds was using band drugs. Bonds said he was confident that his trainer hadn't slipped him banned drugs without his knowledge, saying Anderson "wouldn't jeopardize our friendship" by doing that.

Bonds said that as far as he knew, Anderson had given him only legal products to treat the arthritis and fatigue that afflicted him, especially when playing a day game after a night game. The trainer brought the products into the Giants' clubhouse at Pac Bell Park "once a homestand," Bonds said, and that's where he used them.

"I never asked Greg" about what the products contained, Bonds testified. "When he said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, 'Whatever.'

"It was in the ballpark ... in front of everybody. I mean, all the reporters, my teammates. I mean, they all saw it. I didn't hide it." .

The ethical dilemma is the fact that steroids have invaded the game of baseball and that there are several problems associated with steroid use that arise. One issue is that steroids are illegal in the United States however until recently were not banned in baseball. There are many questions: Did steroids help Bonds? Are people who use steroids to gain an advantage in baseball criminals or are they merely athletes who are taking their skills to the next level? If steroid taking athletes are criminals should they be punished? How should they be punished? If they are only athletes bending the rules should there be consequences or adjustments to accomplishments? Is steroid use acceptable before the ban?

The first dilemma with baseball is the law. There are those who believe that a law is a law and should never ever be broken. This logic tends to want to remove Bonds and others from baseball and its history. How does anyone make the distinction between users and non-users? Others think that there is a gray area. These fans tend to forgive players for breaking the law because Major League Baseball didn't have rules and policies forbidding performance-enhancing drugs. Never mind the fact that US law prohibits steroid use and distribution outside the medical sciences. While others think that the law aspect of this argument is a mute point. Baseball has a very poor record when dealing with lawbreakers. Professional Baseball has ignored most players past and present who have been charged with various crimes. The only exception has been gambling. Gambling illegal or legal has been the only exception to the rule. Major League Baseball has been swift with justice involving gambling as is evident with Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and the "Chicago Blacksox".

Pete Rose had a hall of fame career but was banned from baseball after allegations of illegal gambling arose while he was manager for the Cincinnati Reds. Rose later admitted to betting on baseball and his ban is still in effect. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and 8 other Chicago Whitesox were accused of being bribed to lose the 1919 World Series. Although all were acquitted of all charges they were all banned from baseball.

Baseball is a very analyzed game. Players, coaches and fans study the statistical record of baseball more closely than any other sport. Major League Baseball has kept meticulous stats since the late 1800's. By using steroids it is believed that baseballs statistical record has been tainted. The argument these fans make is that no longer can one compare players and certainly not players from different eras. A modern day player using steroids compared to Babe Ruth may not be an accurate comparison. Steroids has taken a level playing field and changed the landscape drastically and in ways that affect the statistical record. The other side of the argument argues that what Barry Bonds did on the field he did and cannot be erased even if he did take steroids. Their point being that although he may or may not of cheated he did hit 708 homeruns, a feat many other known steroid using baseball players have failed to even come close to doing. The argument being it takes more than just brute strength to hit homeruns in Major League Baseball.

It is hard to tell if steroids boosted Bonds performance. Statistically speaking Barry Bonds has improved his batting stats every year through out his twenty-season career. Barry Bonds has increased his homerun production per at bat steadily including his years before the steroid scandal and since. In addition to increasing his homerun average he has increased his on-base percentage, walks, and significantly decreased his number of strikeouts. His batting average is slightly higher during the alleged steroid years but it has been very consistent. Bonds became a very discerning batter. Bonds is able to judge pitches and wait for the correct pitch choice. Recently on ESPN's Sports Center a baseball writer recounted the story of how he had chided Bonds for choking on a pitch in the 2002 World Series. Bonds response was that he swung poorly and then added if he saw that pitch again he would knock it out. Later in the series Bonds saw that pitch again by the same pitcher and he hit the ball over 500 feet in to the San Francisco Bay.

Questions arise when Bonds' season totals began to rise above the averages of players over the history of baseball especially his record busting 73 homeruns in 2001. Fans argue that Bonds and MacGire's smashing of Roger Maris's record 61-homerun season could have only been done with the help of steroids. I believe that it still takes an awful lot of talent to hit a pitch out of the park than just big muscles. People had similar reactions to Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth's homerun total. Aaron was a black athlete surpassing the greatest hitter of all time in a racially charged era in American history. When Maris set his record single season mark passing Joe Dimaggio fans reacted with threats of violence. Fans would argue that the game is different now and that the ball is harder and flies further. The debate rages on.

Baseball is not as pure as its fans would like to believe. In the 1980's and early 1990's there was controversy over the very baseballs that were used. The balls went from standard fair to a harder core for increased distance when hit or thrown. The change was secretly to boost baseball's sagging ratings and to curb losing fans to other sports like the NBA and NHL. Scoring began to rise, as did the power of the hitters. Stats started to inflate with the new balls. This too has been debated over the years. It all comes down to the purity of the game. Steroids are just another period in the evolution of baseball. For good or for bad its just another page in the history books.

The Major League Baseball steroid controversy has many facets to it. Another facet is what to do with the stats. If Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aarons all time homerun record and then is proven with out a doubt to have used steroids during a time when steroids weren't banned in baseball what should be the affect upon the record books. There are some who think his stats should stand and say just let them be. It would be very difficult for Major League Baseball to sort through all the stats of all of those who may have or who were suspected of using steroids. There is no way to know for sure who was using and who wasn't. Barry Bonds has stats in categories that were much higher before his alleged steroid years. There are others that think maybe a footnote in the annals of baseball history should be included. A note in Cooperstown would read these stats were during the "enhanced baseball period." Others think that his stats from the disputed years be removed from Bonds' historical stats altogether. Can you remove Bonds' single season walks record just because of his alleged steroid use? Honestly can we say that steroids caused Bonds to walk more times? This would allow Bonds and others to keep their stats except for the ones earned during suspect enhancement periods. Some others want his records to be reset and honors given to those who didn't cheat. These fans want justice and punishment to cheaters. Right is right and wrong is wrong in their eyes. Baseball didn't ban steroids until recently when Congress got involved. If there was no rule was it really cheating?
No matter what Major League Baseball decides to do with the steroid controversy the arguments will remain. No solution is better than the other. Each side has its opinion for what is best for the sport. It will be interesting to see what happens with the steroid period of baseball.

Next year Mark MacGire, one of the biggest stars during the steroid period will be eligible for baseball's hall of fame. MacGire's stats are plenty to get him into the hall of fame but will the sports writes of America vote him in. It will be interesting to see what happens and in the next decade we will see if Barry Bonds becomes the all time homerun leader and then also joins the elite in Cooperstown.

Sports Reference Inc. (2000), Bobby Bonds Retrieved April 1, 2006 from

Sports Reference Inc. (2000), Barry Bonds Retrieved April 1, 2006 from

Sports Reference Inc. (2000), Babe Ruth Retrieved April 1, 2006 from

Fitzgerald, Tom. March 10, 2006 Should Bonds be in the Hall of Fame?
San Francisco Chronicle Retrieved March 31, 2006 from

Williams, Lance, Fainaru-Wada, Mark, December 3, 2004 What Bonds told BALCO grand jury San Francisco Chronicle Retrieved March 31, 2006 from

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Monday, April 17, 2006

My New Computer

So instead of buying a lift for my jeep I bought a new gaming system... and Really I am only into one game and that is Battlefield. The new computer also won out due to some work I need to get done.

Here is what I got for just under $1600.

ASUS A8N-E Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard
Simple clean easy install and despite the bozos at PC Club it is very overclockable.

SAPPHIRE 100149 Radeon X1900XT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card (AWESOME CARD) Why not just go with the best?

ASUS Atlas A-55GA ATX12V 2.0 550W Power Supply
It turns out that expensive video cards need expensive power supplies.

AMD Athlon 64 4000+ San Diego 1GHz HT Socket 939 Processor Model ADA4000BNBOX
I didn't go the dual core route to save on cost. I wanted to still be overclockable if I wanted to do it.

Patriot 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered System Memory Model PDC2G3200LLK

ViewSonic VA1912wb Black 19" 8ms Widescreen LCD Monitor (AWESOME SCREEN)
My old 17 inch CRT while still running and looking good. It was time to retire it to second bannana. It has served me well and infact I have had it 10 years.

BenQ 16X DVD±R DVD Burner With LightScribe Black ATA/ATAPI Model DW1655
Bang for the buck... It came with 100 free cdrs

Sony CD RW 40x 16x 12x
This is an antique I have had...for a while.

80 gb Seagate SATA Drive
I bought this drive for a client who didn't want the speed... so I traded him for an old 80 gb maxtor IDE.

150 gb Maxtor IDE
This gem is about the 5th maxtor drive I have had due to crashes and warranty replacements. Not bad for a drive that was originally a 20 gb that someone gave me.
POS Case

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