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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Is There Really A Debate Over Why Barry Bonds Is Hated?

I was thinking tonight (in between sporadic bursts of studying) about why, exactly, Barry Bonds is so hated by everyone outside of San Francisco.

The obvious answer is that Bonds has been found guilty in the court of public opinion of using steroids, and while that may be true, that's clearly not enough to draw the kind of ire that Bonds draws. Jason Giambi has been painted as a juicer, and he apparently admitted to using steroids in his BALCO grand jury testimony, but fans don't venomously hate Giambi. Rafael Palmeiro looked like an idiot after he got caught using, and he was booed, but he wasn't hated like Bonds. Mark McGwire was a beloved figure during his 70-HR season, despite the fact that he was using androstenedione (legal at the time). So I don't think steroids are the reason people hate Bonds, although that certainly provides additional fuel for the fire.

I also don't think, as Bonds and some others have suggested, that racism is a major factor. I think it would be naive to think that there is no racism at all in baseball, but at the same time, if people were so anti-Bonds because he's black, then why don't other black players receive similar treatment? Derrek Lee, Dontrelle Willis, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Pierre, Jimmy Rollins, Chone Figgins, Carl Crawford, Randy Winn, Coco Crisp, Vernon Wells, Prince Fielder - the list goes on and on - and if you ever hear anything negative about these guys (and for some, you won't), nobody ever links it to racism. Griffey gets hurt every year, but nobody chalks that up to his being black. Rollins doesn't walk enough for a leadoff hitter, but whenever someone pulls out that criticism of him, it isn't because he's black. So why, when someone gets negative on Bonds, does it suddenly become about race? I'm very skeptical of this.

This column from USA Today
, which ran a month ago, posited that steroids and racism were the reason for Bonds's bad image. It's wrong. The reason people hate Bonds, quite simply, is because he is, to put it kindly, a thoroughly contemptible, detestable person. Allow me to illustrate:

Bonds said no when he was asked at his news conference if he would sign the ball if a fan [who caught his 713th home run] wanted an autograph. Moments later, when an official asked if there were any more questions, Oliveras [the fan who caught the home run] piped up:

"Will you sign my ball?"

Bonds smirked and said nothing.

After his news conference, Bonds shook Oliveras' hand and took a picture with him.

"I'm happy because I got a picture and he shook my hand," he said.

There was one signature needed though. Oliveras had to sign a waiver for Bonds' reality show.

Isn't this outrageous? The guy who catches the ball can't get an autograph from Bonds, but has to take the time to sign a waiver so he can appear on Bonds's reality show? That's just nauseating. To really put it in perspective, consider the fact that Carlos Olivares, the fan who caught the ball, is enlisted in the Air Force.

Now compare that to this story from 1998. The fan who caught McGwire's 60th home run of the season returned the ball to McGwire, and in return, asked for season tickets for the following season and the chance to take batting practice with the Cardinals. Seems a little excessive, especially after hearing that Bonds won't even sign one autograph. Guess what? McGwire and the Cardinals gave him exactly what he wanted. McGwire's quote: "If that's all he wants, we can work it out." Meanwhile, Bonds can't even be troubled to sign a ball.

Bonds and McGwire may be of different races, but that's not the reason McGwire was a hero and Bonds is a villain. They put themselves in those roles simply by playing the part.


  • At Monday, May 08, 2006 1:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    S____ Bonds and the horse he rode in on.

  • At Monday, May 08, 2006 2:10:00 PM, Anonymous NBarnes said…

    Not to defend Bonds as a person, but there are worse crimes than to be an asshole who also happens to be one of the best hitters ever to play baseball.

  • At Monday, May 08, 2006 3:34:00 PM, Anonymous cagey1 said…

    Was Ty Cobb (an inveterate racist & asshole) as hated in his day as Bonds is now? It smells to me like Bonds is worse than Cobb because of the steroid issue & his continued lying about it. Bonds himself brings everything up as a racial issue to make us say "I'm not a racist, but . . ." just so the steroid issue will be ignored. Bonds pimps racism to shirk steroidism; what a tool!

  • At Monday, May 08, 2006 6:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Without contradicting your overall point that Barry is a jerk, he didn't get his home run ball back. McGwire did. Season tix + batting practice = pretty cheap, considering what those balls auctioned for later. Did he keep it or sell it?

  • At Monday, May 08, 2006 9:09:00 PM, Blogger eskadoni said…

    also, 60 tied a record while 713 did not. what did big mac do for the guy that caught 59?

  • At Thursday, June 01, 2006 6:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Baseball sucks. Though it is legal to run over the catcher, he's almost a goalie, hmm...

    The Rev


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