Of course Bonds is juiced, right? Of course he's cheated on his wife and on his taxes. Of course the game-and the whole damn planet-would be better off with him behind bars. But even assuming he did what countless other major leaguers did-indulge in performance-enhancing drugs-here's a little incentive to help you re-think your Bonds Bias:
1. Steroids or not, Bonds was a first ballot Hall of Famer before his breakout 73 home run year in 2001. "Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player since Babe Ruth," says sportswriter, Dave Zirin. "He is the only player in history to have 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases. He averaged a 30/30 (30 home runs and 30 stolen bases) for the entire decade of the 1990s, and he is the only player I've ever seen who can change the game with every swing."
2. Major League Baseball turned a blind eye to its ever-expanding stars. As long as the fans were happy and television deals rolled in, no one in power acted to stop the steroid binge. Now, with fans whipped into a frenzy and Congress smelling a photo op, Barry Bonds is the perfect patsy.
4. Steroids or not, as Zirin explains above, Bonds is by far the best hitter of his era. For example, no one else who has been publicly linked to performance-enhancing drugs has hit over 600 home runs (never mind 721 and counting) during the so-called steroid era...not Jason Giambi, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero, Gary Sheffield, Jose Canseco, Pudge Rodriguez, etc. On whatever even playing field you choose, Bonds stands well above the crowd.
5. Every era has its asterisks. The great Babe Ruth played against athletes that, in general, were not as big, strong, fast, or well-conditioned as they are today. Ruth never played against black opponents. The Sultan of Swat didn't have to travel coast-to-coast over 162 games and face late inning relief specialists every night. The Bambino had none other than the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig (and a virtual Murderer's Row) behind him the lineup. In fact, Ruth played regularly for the best team in the game.
Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.