Barry Bonds Is Guilty. Whoop-de-do
No one's questioning whether the Home Run King is a jerk. Or that he used steroids. But did the feds need to spend nearly 10 years and millions of dollars to prove it?
It's not because Bonds used "creams" and "clears" and goodness knows what else, like scores of other major leaguers seeking an increase in performance and a boost in pay. It's because of the way he went about it, his supreme arrogance and dismissive attitude as he neared Hank Aaron's home run mark, almost daring the feds to indict him.
Bonds knew that he was baseball's Public Enemy No. 1, the poster child for the generation of bulging muscles and inflated statistics. But -- true to his nature -- he sneered and sniffed, mocking those who sought his downfall.
He always made life hard for baseball fans. Difficult to root for as a player and like as a person. Difficult to ignore on the field and disregard in the record book. Difficult to disconnect his performance from his personality, to separate the amazing gifts from the appalling gall.
Worst of all, he had the nerve to blaspheme Babe Ruth, an unforgivable sin against baseball's dinosaurus purists. "The only number I care about is 715 [homers]," Bonds told reporters in Chicago during the 2003 All-Star break. "Because as a left-handed hitter, what it means is that I wiped him out. To the baseball world, Babe Ruth is baseball. I got him on slugging percentage, I got him on on-base, I got him on walks. And then I can take his home run record and that's all -- you don't have to talk about him no more."
Taking shots at the Babe in baseball is like speaking ill of the pope in Vatican City. It's rude, inappropriate and insensitive. Those attributes fit Bonds anyway, but they were magnified by Ruth's stature in baseball lore.
In light of the feds' overzealous pursuit, Bonds the perpetrator was barely distinguishable from Bonds the victim. Not that he ever had that problem. Bonds always presented himself as an innocent man unfairly persecuted.
Actually, he's only half right: Bonds is a guilty man unfairly persecuted.
Deron Snyder, an award-winning journalist who covers sports, politics and pop culture, is a regular contributor to The Root. He can be reached at email@example.com.