Monday, April 28, 2008

Bonds and cheating

So far, it looks like no team is willing to sign Barry Bonds for the 2008 season. Nobody wants to take the public-relations hit simply to win more games.

Whether you think this is a good thing depends on your perspective about cheating. There appears to be no doubt that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs beginning around 1998 or 1999. Since these drugs were not banned by baseball, he would appear to be acquitted of cheating on a technicality.

Anyway, these issues have been debated and discussed infinitely over the past half-decade or so. What I want to talk about today is, What can baseball do about his records?

The answer, quite clearly, is nothing. The numbers will--and should--stand. I recall the blowhard Republican U.S. Senator Jim Bunning arguing that *everything* should be wiped off the books. All due respect to Bunning, who was a very good pitcher during his time, but can you imagine anything more ridiculous than that? Saying that just makes Bunning sound even more out of touch than he is (which is already pretty far out of touch).

We can’t wipe Bonds's stats off the books, because where would you stop? Would you have to take away the Giants’ 2002 pennant?

We could put an “asterisk” next to them, but we don’t know who else was juicing, so it wouldn’t be fair to single out Bonds.

No, I think we as fans will simply have to realize that the 1990s and early 2000s were the “steroid era” and decide for ourselves how to deal with it. If you choose to believe that Bonds’s behavior constitutes cheating and his records shouldn’t count, that’s fine. But everything did happen—he did hit 73 home runs, he did draw 232 walks, the Giants did win the pennant—and wiping them off the books won’t change that.

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