Sunday, August 05, 2007

Enough, Already

Yay, Barry! He did it, as no one doubted he would. He's the man.

The morning paper is full of disclaimers, reasons why he does not deserve the accolades. With every great achievement come the detractors. I know we could do better than to snipe at the accomplishments of others.

For the first time, I am going to republish an old post from July 6, 2006.



I'm sick of hearing people talk stink about Barry Bonds' alleged use of anabolic steroids. He says if he took them, he was unaware of it at the time. Whether or not this is true, it seems as if these detractors are more interested in discrediting his record than in watching one of the greatest athletes of all time at the top of his game.

Sure, they're illegal. I get that. But how does taking steroids really differ from taking vitamins, energy drinks, and other performance aids? It's just a matter of degree. His phenomenal success is far more a matter of speed, accuracy, timing, coordination and talent than sheer muscle mass anyway. If anabolic steroids could actually make that much difference, we'd be seeing countless athletes performing at Bonds' level, as it would be absurd to think he was the only ballplayer in the world to use them. But fame comes with its own magnifying glass.

Incensed that he presumed to challenge Babe Ruth's record, people conveniently forget that athletes ALWAYS try to surpass the best in their sport. It's what keeps them going, season after season. It's what people in every endeavor try to do. If nobody lusted to be better than their predecessors, what would be the point in society continuing to breed new humans?

Babe Ruth had a glorious career and inspired millions of athletes. Of course he HAD to hit like he did - being built like a water buffalo didn't make him much of a runner. He was a great athlete, but he wasn't a sacrosanct saint. His record was not off-limits. He was the one to emulate and to trump.

Barry Bonds worked his ass off to measure up to the Babe. And then he passed him. We are lucky to witness in our time one of the best athletes of all time performing his magic on a playing field.

I have to be honest here: I'm not a big fan of athletic events in general. I really don't care who wins the pennant most of the time. But I do admire a superlative athlete in top form, however he got that way, as much as a person who excels in any other field through hard work, sacrifice, dedication and immense talent. And I think everyone else should, too.

12 comments:

Liz said...

I 100% agree. I'm sure if I start taking steroids I'm still not going to be able to hit a ball.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Liz,

Exactly. There is a LOT more involved in his success than whether or not he took performance enhancers.

I wish people would focus on that and stop acting like he's the devil's child.

My Reflecting Pool said...

Everybody wants things FAIR. The playing field always has to be EQUAL, and everybody is a winner. I really dislike this attitude which, nice as it seems, is really detrimental. I could go on and on regarding this topic.

velvet said...

That's the problem with being at the top of the ladder. There's always someone who's looking to pull you off. Besides, scandals sell so people are always on the lookout for one. It's sad and pathetic.

No matter what, Barry Bonds is great at what he does. Period.

WNG said...

I'm sorry to say that I have to disagree with you. There is no way you can be taking steroids and not know that you are taking them. If he had been honest about it, I might feel differently. Whether he asked for it or not, the fact of the matter is that there are middle and high school kids looking up to him and being offered these drugs at the same time. While I believe in personal and parental responsibility I also believe that he has a responsibility to these fans- not for perfection, but for honest striving. That is what the game should be about and that is what it loses every time ANY player disrespects and endangers his body this way.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Reflective,

This is great in the Special Olympics, where everyone is a winner.

But in the highly competitive field of professional athletics, it's really distasteful to see people dissect someone's success and attribute it to something other than his own excellence.

Velvet,

It's absurd to think that he is that great because of drugs. As I mentioned, they'd all be performing on his level if that were the reason.

Wng,

You raise some excellent points. Steroids are extremely dangerous, but adults do have the right to determine what they will put into their bodies.

Barry Bonds wouldn't be a role model if he were not such an amazing player, so this really is another issue - whether a professional athlete has the right to take performance-enhancement drugs or not when others will emulate him or her.

What made me indignant enough to write this post a year ago still stands, though, and that is the issue of people insisting that Bonds doesn't deserve his success because he may have taken something.

I still stand by my assertion that it takes a lot more than drugs to make a Barry Bonds, and that it's sickening to see so many people trying to take his victory away.

It seems personal, and that's wrong. Bonds seems like a likable man, and nobody else can say whether or not he knew he was taking them.

I think we are too quick as a society to judge others. Baseball is our national sport. It's supposed to be fun. I know that sounds naive, but it should be clear enough to everyone that Bonds' abilities didn't come from pills. I don't think that kids will be spending their milk money on steroids, and as you stated, there is the matter of parental responsibility which should certainly intervene if that happens.

I'm delighted that you expressed a different view here, and your argument has a lot of merit. Thank you for sharing it.

The CEO said...

I fear I must also take a different point of view, with respect. Bonds has evidently testified in a grand jury investigation since your post that he later found out that he had taken anabolic steroids. Those steroids put on muscle at an unbelievable rate. James Burnett reported taking them in high school and putting on approximately 85 pounds of muscle in two weeks.

Professional ball players perform at a level beyond the average person. Certainly Babe Ruth did, and continued to do so for quite a long time regardless of his training habits and his physical conditioning. Yet he hit his largest number of home runs, 60 in 1927, while his career lasted and declined through 1936. Barry Bonds' career kept accelerating until the steroid issue blew up in his face and witnesses came forward. He tied Henry Aaron tonight at 755. Yet he has slowed down without steroids.

As for role models, there has been a huge number of 'problems in high schools with kids using steroids. The pressure to make it into college ball is intense. And you must do well there to get into the pros. That's where the big money is, and that's where the proverbial pot of gold is waiting.

The Mark McGwires and other pro athletes who used steroids, broke records, and achieved fame are the argument that a kid uses to go buy steroids. There's money in it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Monty,

Let me make it very clear that I am vehemently not in favor of steroid use by kids for any reason, even as I support the right of adults to decide whether to use them or not.

In a free society, it cannot be any other way.

It's impossible to determine how long it would have taken Barry Bonds to beat the Babe's record and to tie Hank Aaron's without enhancers, but I also believe that he has such great innate ability that he would have done so sooner or later.

And again, parents and coaches should be monitoring young people so they won't harm themselves with steroids. It's no different than preventing them from doing cocaine and Xstasy. That responsibility ultimately rests on the people who have a direct interest in a child's wellbeing, not on public figures who are perceived as role models.

Lex said...

I missed that post the first time, but you make an excellent point.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Lex,

My blog was about 2 weeks old then. Nobody read it.

This is the first time I've reposted anything, but I realized that I had nothing new to say about this.

Granny said...

I agree too and I'm still waiting for his first failed drug test.

Hasn't happened yet.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Granny,

I don't believe it will.

Thank you for coming by!