Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Barry Bonds

So, it finally happened. Barry Bonds is the new all-time home runs leader. It is a sad day for baseball and all of professional sport. Baseball was my first love in the sports world (like most good Canadians, hockey is my preferred game these days). I grew up watching the great Toronto Blue Jays teams of the early 1990's. I remember a lanky slugger who played for the Pirates named Barry Bonds but it is hard to believe that the man who broke the record last night is even related to that amazing athlete. Bonds would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. His achievements prior to the 1998 season when the infamous book Game of Shadows says he started taking steroids spoke for themselves. He hit fifty home runs and stole fifty bases in a single season. He was poised to be one of the best of all time. Now he is little more than an embarassment. Bonds has come to symbolize an era of unfettered corruption in baseball and in sports in general. He, along with many others, have brought great achievement into question. Even athletes who are known to be clean come under the microscope because the rest of the sporting world is so corrupted.

Bonds may not deserve to be the brunt of the blame. There are plenty of others. He is the focus for a few reasons. One, he now holds two of baseball's most prized records (not really relevant, but if Bonds fails to get into the Hall, the all-time hits and home run leaders will both be out of the hall). Two, his alleged steroid use is obvious. There is no amount of training that can make your head grow entire helmet sizes in your mid to late 30's. Three, he is a bit of a sour pickle, making it easy for the media and the public to demonize him. Finally, unlike other notorious users like Mark McGwire, Bonds is still in the spotlight. So, the sports world watches uncomfortably as a man everyone thinks is dirty gets the hero's treatment. This on the heels of a disastrous Tour de France that had French papers writing obituaries for the storied race. Sports are supposd to provide inspiration and modelling for all of us particularly children. How do you explain to your kids that hard work is nice, but steroids give you records? A dark day indeed.

Side note: There's a nice article in today's Toronto Star about our No MMP group. We are a quickly growing group. Dozens of people have sent e-mails from all over the province expressing there support and their willingness to help save Ontario's democracy. We are not, as has been reported elsewhere, a small group of malcontents but rather a growing grassroots movement who see MMP as a problem not a solution and want to fight against it.

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