Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Barry Bonds as Leon Trotsky...that's a comparison you don't see made everyday. If that intrigues you so be sure to read the commentary below by Dave Zirin .

Barry Bonds holds the record for most home runs ever, like ever and he's out there available for the taking and no major league team seems interested.

Sounds like the bosses are whiteballing Barry to me.

Even as an old man, just last year he lead the entire National League in walks and had 28 home runs in 132 games while hitting .276. He had a better season than one helluva lot outfielders gainfully employed.

Now we all know about the steroids investigation and all that, but since when did baseball's big shots become so righteous.

The MLB Players Association finds it odd and has stated publicly that they think collusion has taken place among all 30 MLB teams to keep Bonds from playing baseball this year and ever again. They do not understand how any team from a league known for giving players second and third chances who have shown a propensity for hitting home runs has not signed the all-time home run king.

But then Barry is black and has been indicted by the federal government for perjury.

Indicted, but why?

Mike Gimbel,former consultant on player evaluation for the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos writes:
"Bonds has not been convicted of anything. He has not been accused of betting on games or throwing games. He has not been accused of assaulting anyone. Bonds has been accused of not being a nice guy by the media, but is that a crime?"

Bonds has been accused of not telling the truth to a grand jury investigating BALCO. He does not own BALCO and does not distribute steroids on behalf of BALCO. Why was the grand jury investigating Bonds? Weren’t they supposed to be investigating BALCO? How did that “investigation” of BALCO turn into a witch hunt directed against MLB players? Clearly, BALCO wasn’t the real target in the racist campaign against Bonds."

...In effect, MLB teams are willing to lose money rather than hire Bonds. Isn’t that the definition of a “blacklist”? The actors, singers, directors, etc., who were “blacklisted” during the McCarthy era witch hunt were money makers for the entertainment industry, yet no owner would hire them! Isn’t that exactly what is happening with Bonds?"

Weren’t many of these talented performers indicted and some convicted for refusing to cooperate with grand juries and dragged before government-staged hearings in front of hundreds of cameras and reporters? Years later many of those “blacklisted” were apologized to, but did that apology make up for the destruction of their livelihoods and their personal lives during the McCarthy “blacklisting”? Of course not!"

...Years from now, when MLB is forced to apologize to Bonds for their actions, that apology will never make up for the crime that it is inflicting today on him and on the many fans who admire the athletic greatness that Bonds has personified as a player. I also admire him for his unbending, “in your face” attitude, as he’s been enduring this constant attack from the big business media, especially the sports talk radio and cable channels that have to fill 24-hour-a-day air time by creating controversy and scandal where there would have been little or none before those media outlets were created."

The following is from The Edge of Sports blog.

Boss's Boycott: The Bonds Vanishes
By Dave Zirin

The Commissar Vanishes is a coffee table book for only the dourest of coffee tables. The hard-covered volume is a photographic compilation of the way that Josef Stalin systematically erased his chief political opponents, Leon Trotsky and his followers, from the history of the Russian Revolution.

Page after glossy page plainly displays the desecration of memory at the service of dictatorship. It shows before-and-after photos of people either airbrushed to invisibility or crudely vandalized, their faces blacked out with an ugly scribble.

Meet Barry Bonds, the Leon Trotsky of Major League Baseball. In 2007 Bonds broke the most hallowed record in sports, passing Henry Aaron's record for home runs. When he wasn't injured, this maestro of the batter's box packed San Francisco's ballpark, despite a team that stank like cottage cheese left on a radiator. At season's end, the Giants refused to re-sign him, with owner Peter Magowan saying, "We're going in a new direction; that would not be going in a new direction. The time has come to turn the page." That is surely his right, but the page hasn't just been turned, it's been raggedly erased.

All traces of Bonds, the greatest player in baseball history, have vanished from the Bay. The left-field wall no longer carries an image of Bonds chasing Hank Aaron for the crown. There is no marker of where Bonds hit home run number 756. There is no reminder that Bonds ever even wore a Giants uniform.

But it's not just Magowan trying to “disappear” Barry Bonds. He has been blackballed in a blatant and illegal act of Major League collusion, a bosses' boycott. Yes, Bonds' fielding has become painful to watch in recent years, as the seven time gold glover limped around the outfield on knees grinding together without cartilage. But despite the agony of movement most of us take for granted, Bonds still hit 28 home runs in 340 at bats, led the NL in walks, and had an on base percentage of .480. Since 1950, only Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Norm Cash, and Bonds himself have recorded higher OBP's. [Cash’s epic season was an anomaly in an otherwise middling career. That a player could have a brilliant year out of nowhere, used to be one of the charms of baseball. Today they would be accused of sprinkling steroids on their corn flakes.]

Maybe Bonds can no longer roam the outfield, but there are at least a dozen AL teams that could use a designated hitter with a .480 OBP, not to mention a player whose every game would sell tickets and every at-bat would provoke baited breaths and empty bathrooms.

In this case of blackballing so obvious it would shame a Dartmouth frat house, one would think the media would be raising hell. But they have largely been yipping collusion lackeys. Bill Simmons, ESPN.com's Sports Guy, wrote,

"Opening Day came and went without Bonds for the first time in 22 years, and nobody seemed to notice. I didn't think about him for more than two seconds all spring. Did anyone? Can you remember being a part of a single "I wonder where Bonds is going to end up?" conversation? Did you refresh ESPN.com incessantly in hopes of a Bonds update?...Of course not. No one cared. The best hitter since Ted Williams is gone and forgotten. We wanted him to go away, and he did."

There is one problem. Bonds doesn't want to go gently into that good night and is pushing his union to fight back. He has asked the Players Association to file collusion charges on his behalf and the union has served Commissioner Bud Selig with papers. [There is a certain irony here as Bonds was hardly Big Bill Haywood during his career. In 2003, he became the first player in thirty years to not sign the Player's Association's group licensing agreement.]

The Player's Association's efforts on Bonds behalf have also met with high profile derision. Newsweek's Mark Starr wrote "The union approaches new heights of absurdity when it bothers to investigate whether collusion has ended the career of baseball's all-time home run king, Barry Bonds, who can't attract an offer to play anywhere this 2008 season. What the union sees as possible collusion, once an honored practice among ownership, I see as a rare display of common sense."

Bonds, according to Starr, is "widely regarded as a cancer in the clubhouse."

This is moralistic spew. The idea that baseball owners would ruin their own team's chances because they have collectively agreed to "turn the page" is a violation of Bonds' rights and the unwritten social contract they have with fans. And when one considers the absence of saints on Major League Baseball teams, even on the God Squad in Colorado, it is all the more drenched in hypocrisy.

Mike Gimbel, who is a former adviser on player trades and acquisitions to the GM's of the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos, wrote it well.

"Bonds has been accused of not telling the truth to a grand jury investigating BALCO [the Bay Area Lab Company, implicated in steroid distribution]. He does not own BALCO and does not distribute steroids on behalf of BALCO. Why was the grand jury investigating Bonds? Weren't they supposed to be investigating BALCO? How did that 'investigation' of BALCO turn into a witch hunt directed against MLB players?"

Good questions. Bonds deserves far better than to be forced into retirement and have his history coarsely expunged. The overriding ethos of the sports world is that of the meritocracy. If you are good enough, then you get to play. Yet a man who can get on base 48% of the time, has been told to go home and a new generation of fans will never see the Mozart of the batting cage. This is about more than a baseball player. It's about people in power deciding on utterly unjust grounds, who gets to take the field, who gets to be heard, and even who gets to be remembered. Somewhere, Stalin smiles.

No comments: