Tuesday, October 03, 2006

No, Bill Plaschke. Wrong.

I recently read this article by Bill Plaschke in which Mr. Plaschke essentially argues that Roger Clemens will be above steroid suspicion because he is white, while dear Mr. Barry Bonds is scrutinized the way he is, because he is black.

No Bill Plaschke, you race card drawing moron.

I'm absolutely tired of this stupid idea that Barry Bonds is somehow overly scrutinized because he is black. Here's why that argument is a LOAD of bullshit.

A) Hardly one bleeding day goes by without an article from a major publication that praises Ryan Howard for hitting all these home runs clean. Ryan Howard is black. Hardly a day goes by without an article from a major publication that praises Frank Thomas or Ken Griffey Jr. for having been clean during the steroid era and still excelling. Both of these men, are black. Hardly a day goes during HOF induction time without an article from somebody espousing Jim Rice's credentials for having done amazing things in an era before steroids. Jim Rice, you might notice, is black. I have yet to read an article praising white stars such as Mike Piazza, Jim Thome, or Chipper Jones for having performed at an elite level, presumably clean, during the steroids era. And for good reason: their performances, while remarkable, aren't as remarkable at this point, or as historically important, as their aformentioned black colleagues. None of those four black men are shoved down because they are black, and none of those three white men are pushed up because they are white. Their performance, as it should, has dictated their heretofore disparate amounts of coverage in the media.

B) Barry Bonds is a gigantically unimaginable jerk. The media doesn't like his personality. Not because he's black. You might know one Alex Rodriguez. Alex Rodriguez is not black. Alex Rodriguez is heartily disliked by the media and always being unreasonably put down. If Alex Rodriguez were black, my guess is somebody would say this treatment is a result of his being black. It is not, just like Barry Bonds' treatment is not. The media doesn't like Bonds for being a jerk and it doesn't like A-Rod for being a choking puss, but it has nothing to do with either man's skin color.

C) Gary Sheffield is black. It is all but certain Gary Sheffield has taken steroids, based on the same BALCO information that found the likes of Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds to also be guilty of taking steroids. Nobody in the media, to my knowledge, has ever berated Gary Sheffield for this. In fact, it is generally thought that Gary Sheffield is a jerk, and still nobody berates him. Why? Because he isn't chasing down Hank Aaron's home run record. This is the most important point I'm going to make. The most important reason people hate Barry Bonds is because he has been the best at cheating. He has gotten the most out of it, and he stands to dirty up the sacredest of records (however stupid it may be that this of all records is held sacred) in a way nobody else can. Look at the steroid users. You'll see how vilified they are based on their performance almost proportionally. Barry Bonds is at the top of the ladder. One rung below him you find guys who's reputations are essentially gone in Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. One rung below them you find guys who are generally not cared about in Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi. And far enough down the ladder, and you have guys like Ryan Franklin and Alex Sanchez that nobody even remembers. Again, the amount you are vilified for steroid use is going to be proportional to your performance. If you want to appear in a couple all star games while using steroids, no problem. If you want to take Hank Aaron's home run record with the help of steroids, and you're going to be public enemy #1. Plain and simple.

D) Well what about Clemens, you ask? This is really easy to address. Think of the two most cherished stats and their records for pitchers and hitters. Wins, for pitchers. Home runs, for hitters. Barry Bonds may break the all time home run record with the help of steroids. Roger Clemens isn't going to break the win record anytime soon. Moreover, to the delight of pitchers I imagine, one can't directly link steroids to wins. Perhaps strikeouts, perhaps lowered ERA. Not wins, though. Nobody's going to care if Roger Clemens strikes out 250 people while on steroids instead of 200. Nobody cares if his ERA is 2.50 instead of 3.00. People CARE if Barry Bonds, or anyone else, for that matter, hits 75 home runs with steroids instead of 55. That record is sacred to them. To people, to the media, extra home runs are THE singular by-product of steroid use. It represents something solid. If someone records 50 extra strikeouts with steroids, nobody really knows what that means. If they have an ERA .50 less, nobody really knows what that means. If someone hits 20 extra homers, 10 extra homers, even 5 extra homers, they KNOW, at least in their minds, what that means. To put it in perspective, if information came out that Cal Ripken were on steroids, healing up with them, improving with them, during his games played streak, I GAURANTEE he'd be vilified in the same way Bonds is. It's an easily distinguishable mark where you can say, "Well, if Ripken hadn't taken steroids, he'd probably have not been able to get out there every day like he did, and so his record is tarnished." If it's easily distinguishable like that, it makes him easily vilifiable.

Look, are there people out there who probably dislike Barry Bonds because he's black? Of course, it's naive to think otherwise. There are still racists out there, and that is a problem. But the general treatment of Bonds by the media, and the general perception of him by fans has NOTHING to do with his race. I'm willing to stand behind that argument anytime.

(Also, if you read it, doesn't my analysis of the A's chances in my last article look pretty spot on now that they beat Santana and the Twins 3-2 in Game 1? Ehhhh? Ehhhhh? I'm awesome.)

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