Are we easing up on Bonds?

Art Spander of RealClearSports currently has a piece up concerning Barry Bonds’ status amidst reports of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez using steroids. Spander feels the public is beginning to evenly spread their disgust towards all steroid users in baseball instead of just focusing on Bonds.

Bonds now is insignificant. We went after him and his silent partner, Greg Anderson, the trainer, so long ago it’s almost ancient history. Mark Fainaru-Wada and his then San Francisco Chronicle colleague Lance Williams left no syringe unturned. We acted like the sky was falling then shrugged.

What’s falling now are other names into place, the latest of those Ortiz and Manny, who in 2004 combined to help the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years. And just an aside, you think any of those self-righteous Boston fans would give back the title because like the Bonds homers they yelped about it might be tainted?

Barry Bonds has a different problem. He’s being hounded by the government on charges of perjury, the U.S. claiming he lied under oath when in December 2003 Barry said he never used the stuff.
But the guess is Barry never will come to trial. And who cares anymore He took his grief.

He was the Lone Ranger, the one who stood alone until it seems there was no room left on the list for all players who were guilty. The line forms to the right.

For the most part, I agree with Spander. Still, I think the only reason people seem to hate Bonds less is because he’s been forced to retreat from the public eye. You never hear about his whereabouts other than when he shows up at a Giants game. And rightfully so. Spander points out that Bonds received the brunt of the blame while Sosa and McGwire received much less. Look, I don’t like any of those three guys, but the main reason Bonds was cast as the scapegoat was because he actively pursued two of baseball’s most prized records. Since Barry Bonds was so jealous, as Spander claims, he used the remainder of his career to surpass Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. While Sosa and McGwire retired, Bonds stayed in the game for the sole reason of earning the recognition he felt he deserved. That is his greatest sin. He knew the Giants weren’t going to win a championship, but he cheated his way into the record books while he still could.

Then there’s the issue of lying. The public tends to forgive those who admit to their transgressions far quicker than those who endlessly skirt around the issue. Look where it’s gotten Bonds. He holds one of baseball’s most popular records and he’s one of the most unpopular athletes in the world. Congratulations. Outside of the Bay Area, he’s viewed as a free criminal.

But what of Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz? Well, I think A-Rod and Manny have far better chances than Bonds (Ortiz has debatable numbers) of getting into the Hall of Fame. Rodriguez at least admitted to using. Manny has silently accepted the blame. Ortiz is beginning to use the Bonds tactic of denial.

In the end, it’s all about ego. If Bonds loved the game and not the records, he could have quit before surpassing Aaron, a player who never used steroids. However, he didn’t. Bonds went ahead and broke Mark McGwire’s single season home run record, a record that was already a joke. So what? Smart baseball fans know it’s impossible to hit 73 home runs in a season without cheating in some way. At the end of the day, we know the real record rightfully belongs to Roger Maris.

Fact is, Bonds did deserve all flack he received at the time. And it wasn’t worth it in the long run as he’ll never be appreciated by the people who watched him play. As for the Red Sox win with steroid users, yes, it’s tarnished. Still, there’s evidence that suggests many of the recent World Series champions has steroid users on their teams. It’s sad, and I think a true Red Sox fan would rather give up their last championships than have to sit through the steroid era. I hope.

Nevertheless, baseball is looking cleaner by the day. Last year’s World Series featured only one player (Ryan Howard) who had hit over 40 home runs during the regular season. Doesn’t the complexion of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies look much different than that of the 2004 Boston Red Sox? Man, what if the Rays had won?

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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