Faith: God & Barry in Black and White

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Oh, God. Now this is getting interesting. Well it passed interesting about 50 home runs, 50 steroid allegations and 12 perjury possibilities ago. But “interesting” is about the best word for all the madness surrounding Barry Bonds.

He’s now just 10 home runs from becoming baseball’s all-time Dinger King. They’re lining up the fireworks, champagne and testimonials in parks that lie in his path. Bub Selig is wringing his hands in the daily meetings he hosts with his executive team to discuss the single topic that might most shape his legacy: What Should I do with Barry?

I’ve long said he should simply be the baseball commissioner and high-tail himself to be wherever Bonds will be when he breaks the record. I know Hank Aaron is your best bud, but the office is higher than any man. Dignify it by being there when the game’s most storied record is re-written.

Yes, there’s an ugly cirrus-like cloud hanging over the whole thing. But if you’ve found no reason to ban Bonds from playing the game then respect the game, its rules and history by acknowledging the feat for its historic significance – and then move on.

But Selig’s dilemma is just one aspect of the madness swirling about Bonds. George Mitchell is out there poking around in players’ medical records. Punk former clubhouse boys are buckling under the feds. And today, one of my most esteemed and rested young colleagues, ESPN columnist Jemele Hill (and one of the true rising stars in this business) asked God – yeah, God – to “smite” Bonds before he breaks the record. Knowing God does not play when it comes to smiting, she admitted that such a fate might be a bit much. So she allowed that some smaller AoGs (Acts of God), like locusts swirling about his at bats, might work.

As a Christian, I believe we’re all just living God’s plan anyway – the good, bad and ugly of it all. So perhaps He healed Bonds bad knee and elbow so we could once again be reminded just how polarized we remain in this nation on matters of race. Just as the Imus/rap imbroglio died down, a poll was released showing blacks (well, 203 of us, which is all that was surveyed for this insipid poll) and whites felt differently about Bonds and his chase for the record. Uh, DUH. The poll showed blacks are more likely to be rooting for Bonds to break the record than whites, and are also more likely to believe the harsh criticism he receives is due to race. Well, stop the presses.

W.E. B. DuBois wrote more than 100 years ago that race would be the defining – and dividing – theme of the 20th century. He was right an it remains so today.

Hill lamented that Bonds would become today’s O.J. and that his achievement would unleash the ugly tones of racism that still linger beneath the surface throughout our existence. That’s great, I say. The more we discuss and debate the closer we get to the day when our children don’t have to be slapped in the face with it. The more we allow it to remain in the closet, the more dangerous it becomes.

God knows what he’s doing.

Another argument was that Bonds was not worthy to replace Aaron in the record books. Hill wrote: “Hank Aaron deserves better than to see his record broken by an unlikable, arrogant cheater who has done nothing but heighten stereotypes of black athletes. He is unquestionably a Hall of Famer and the best player of this generation — but he is not nearly the man Aaron is, and should not surpass him in any way.”

Since when did worthiness – as difficult as that is to define anyway – become a criteria for athletic achievement? If it were the record books would be, quite frankly, nearly empty. No doubt. Bonds is a first-ballot inductee to the Arrogant Hall of Fame, and his putrid persona is much his own doing. If he’d made maybe even a couple of friends, been nice to maybe three members of the media, during his career, we’d all – black white and everything in between – be rooting with rapt anticipation of the new record.

Well, at least most of us would be rooting.

The most troubling aspect of the he’s-hot-worthy argument, though, is that it comes sounds dangerously like the claims made by racists that Aaron was not a worthy heir to Ruth’s record. To them, Aaron’s blackness was his Scarlett Letter. To them, he was not “the man” Ruth was. That was just a single generation ago. If we’re to make that same claim against Bonds, have we really come that far in all that time?

Maybe we needed to know that, too.

God, as I said, knows what He’s doing.


8 thoughts on “Faith: God & Barry in Black and White

  1. Brian says:

    God does know what he’s doing and in spite of all the steroid allegations, I still would be rooting for Barry to break the record. It is beyond me why anybody would “pray to God” to have someone smitted or attacked by locusts — even if sarcasm was hinted. Bonds is an amazing baseball player, absolutely amazing. I still wonder how this man, who is reaching his mid 40s, and is obviously not on any form of steroids anymore because of the drug policy in the MLB, is leading the NL in home runs. His ABs are far lower than any batter around him and it seems like he homers when he decides when he wants to homer.

    Just madness.

  2. winstolv says:

    I was unaware that Jesus was a doper too.

    Did not know when MLB employed him.

  3. SJH says:

    “The most troubling aspect of the he’s-hot-worthy argument, though, is that it comes sounds dangerously like the claims made by racists that Aaron was not a worthy heir to Ruth’s record. To them, Aaron’s blackness was his Scarlett Letter. To them, he was not “the man” Ruth was. That was just a single generation ago. If we’re to make that same claim against Bonds, have we really come that far in all that time?”

    Gotta disagree with this. I think you’re reaching just to inject race into this. Jemele is black, and so is Aaron, so I’m sure her saying that Bonds isn’t worthy hasn’t anything to do with his race. Yes, the racists who said that Aaron wasn’t worthy of breaking Ruth’s record thought a black man didn’t deserve it (among other reasons), and I’m sure a lot of racists out there are rooting against Bonds for the same reasons. But this isn’t that. This is a black writer saying that Bonds doesn’t deserve it because he’s a pompous, unsavory cheater. Cheater being the most important part. Whether or not he ever admits to “knowingly” taking steroids – and he probably won’t – the fact is that he admitted to taking them. And that’s in addition to it being obvious to the objective observer. Had he kept at his pre-steroid pace – not factoring natural decline with age and injuries, just his averages – he’d be around 695 homers right now, which would mean he’d have to be a productive 45-year-old if he was to break the record. He might’ve gotten it anyway, but you can’t guarantee 30 homers/year from a 45-year-old. He shouldn’t be as close to Aaron’s number as he is, and he shouldn’t be on pace to break it this season. Cheating got him that. So is it fair that the most sacred record in American sports (personally, I don’t care much about it) be broken by a man who took a shortcut there? Say there’s the journalism equivalent of 755. Would it sit well with you if several of the soon-to-be record holder’s best articles were plagarized?

    And I don’t care much about athletes’ personalities – Kobe Bryant could spit in my face while I’m filling out the ballot, he’d get my Hall of Fame vote (if I had one) – but I think that aspect makes for a decent secondary or tertiary argument in the Bonds issue. The holder of the record, in a way, becomes the face/ambassador of the league. He’ll be representing MLB and black people. Do you really want the most disliked Negro in the league being the front man? Again, I don’t care, but people do. And it’s worth mentioning.

    I agree with you that Selig should show up. If not because it’s his job, but really to save face (his ugly, ugly face). If he pretends to be upset about the whole thing and turns his back on it, it reflects poorly on him and the league. Where was the indignation in ’98 when Mark & Sammy were swatting and filling the ballparks? That ’98 season was all about the Yankees never losing and the steroid sluggers putting up Nintendo numbers. Where was the outrage in ’01 when Bonds hit 71 after 9/11? It was all good then. The fans were loving it and the parks were packed. Selig knew. Now all of a sudden, when the people are pissed that a cheater’s gonna break their precious record, Commish is in a tizzy and he’s calling for investigations. It’s like a father pitching to his son in the backyard, then when a ball flies through the neighbor’s window, he waves the finger and says, “Shame on you!” Selig shouldn’t back down now. He was down with the bullshit in the mid 90s through 2003, so he should be down with it now. Otherwise, to people intelligent enough to see through, he’s gonna look like a snake (an ugly, ugly snake). He should be there for Bonds and they should celebrate it. If he tries to sweep it under the rug, that’d create more controversy. But of course, Bud makes smart decisions with the same regularity as Lindsay Lohan. He’ll be holed up somewhere in Milwaukee when the record is broken and release a concise statement – that’s probably already been written – congratulating Bonds and lauding Hank Aaron. It’ll be about 3 sentences long. And then he’ll immediately begin to promote the 2007 All-Star game. Oh yeah, he’ll make a bunch of appearances for that and hope it takes over the media buzz. Well, Selig’s salvation will be hoping that A-Rod surpasses Bonds in another 7-8 years.

  4. winstolv says:

    Look, MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, TDF, FIFA and the Olympics are all show businesses now.

    TV programmeded for excitement/

    Tiger Woods to Lance Pharmstrong to Michelle Wie.

    Corked bats, steroids, rigged games, gifts, help make all statistics and records pointless and meaningless.

    If you enjoy white-owned circus freaks, you have many choices.

    In baseball we have Baoid Bonds versus hGH Roger Clemens versus bald faced liar ALS Curt Schilling.

    They all cheat, they all lie–especially those greedy white Club owners.

  5. tralfamadorian says:

    SJH, When MLB finally initiated a steroids program in 2002, which it revised in 2004 because the first was ridiculously lenient, it failed to address the issue of tainted record, even though on both occasions, the possibility of the home run record being broken was painfully apparent.

    In “Game of Shadows,” an excellent book documenting the BALCO scandal which no one would accuse of being pro-Bonds, authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams address the question this way:

    “And why, if steroids were of real concern, would Selig and baseball even contemplate organizing a ‘celebration’ for the day in 2006 when Bonds broke Ruth’s home run mark? It was as if [Kenesaw Mountain] Landis had announced a new anti-gambling policy after the Black Sox scandal, and then agreed to personally reward Joe Jackson his next batting trophy.

    Perhaps baseball believed the steroid problem could be finessed because of the public’s complicated reaction to the scandal. In some ways, the nation regarded BALCO as more of a cultural phenomenon than a crisis, fodder for everything from late-night talk shows to Internet entrepreneurs.”

    And unfortunately, there is some historical precedent (see $40 Million Slaves by William C. Rhoden) for “the public’s complicated reaction” to any incident involving a black athlete and a championship or world record — especially when accompanied by a void in leadership — to devolve into an issue with racial overtones.

  6. Jake says:

    While the media and the public make cases both pro and con for Barry’s pursuit of Hank’s 755, MLB is quietly soaking up ticket sales.

    Ask MLB to give back a nickel of the money they collected in 1998 when Sammy ‘Juice Me’ Sosa and Mark ‘Andro’ McGwire circled the bases at a record pace during their homerun race.

    Its all about the C.R.E.A.M. Ticket money is ticket money whether you come to cheer or boo. The best way to handle this is not to talk about it. If Bonds breaks the record my life won’t change for the better or worse.

  7. BETTYEJ says:

    I am a woman who will not waste time on the Bond drama, because there are enough people doing that already.

    What I will address is the fact that our black sport stars need to wake up and stop misbehaving! Keep it up and when they have a total blackout, and just use white players don’t be surprise. It’s already almost a reality on TV/Movies/Jobs and if you don’t look out, you will be out in the cold! They have figure out already that if they have less blacks on these teams, that their white players will look better.

    After watching racist American Idol, with Simon who wouldn’t know a real singer if he was standing in front of him tell a white boy who not only can’t sing, but can’t dance either that he did a good job, that was telling to me. The girl was not much better.

    We need to get real and teach our children the correct way to make it in life. If they are going into sports, teach them have to behave! And above all, make sure they know how to talk. Education is the key to opening any door. And for God sake, stop branding your bodies , because it only shows you don’t know or have no respect for our history. White slave Master’s use to brand their black slaves with a branding Iron, so everyone would know who they belong to, and now you are paying people to do the same thing, wake up!

  8. Hello. This post was interesting and informative. My husband and I have been hunting for this kind of information for quite some time and I feel that your view on the subject matter is relevant. We will be sure to reccomend this write up to my friends. Will you show me how to subscribe this blog’s new articles? Keep on posting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: