Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is it because Barry Bonds is Black?
Everyone has a theory about why U.S. federal prosecutors never let Barry Bonds out of their sights for four years as the Giants slugger hit 104 home runs and broke the records of Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

The day after baseball's newly crowned home run king was indicted for allegedly lying about using steroids, historians and legal experts say Bonds was targeted because he shrugged off the accusations, while pursuing the game's most cherished title.

"There is not a minute that goes by that some federal agent or federal prosecutor or law enforcement figure somewhere is not being lied to by someone," said Jean Rosenbluth, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who teaches law at the University of Southern California.

"What the government tends to do is not prosecute perjury unless it's a high-profile case," Rosenbluth said. "You can send the message out worldwide saying, 'Do not lie to us.' Barry Bonds is a perfect example."

Whether his petulant behaviour and singular success were enough to explain the government's drawn-out investigation remained a source of disagreement. Some scholars agreed with Bonds, insisting that given how widespread doping is in sports and the U.S.'s uneasy relationship with Black superstars, race cannot be ignored as a factor.

"This is the latest in a long litany of America's near-obsession with the troublesome Black athlete. Whether it's Terrell Owens, Michael Vick or now Barry Bonds, Black athletes who don't toe the line are going to be held accountable," said Steven Millner, chairman of the African American Studies Department at San Jose State University.

Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, said that regardless of whether racial bias made Bonds subject to disparate treatment, it remains an important issue for professional sports and society because the perception is there.

"If you are a kid trying to decide what sport to play and look at Major League Baseball, and then see the person who is arguably the greatest player of his generation not being a favourite of the media even before the steroids story became as pronounced, you are going to be less likely to choose baseball," Lapchick said.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted this summer, while Bonds was chasing Aaron's historic record revealed a wide divide in the way Black and white fans viewed his achievements and the accusations of steroid use.

More than three-quarters of the poll's non-white respondents thought Bonds was being treated unfairly with the doping allegations, compared to just 38 per cent of non-Hispanic white fans. About two-thirds of minority fans said Bonds belonged in the Baseball Hall of Fame, while 49 per cent of non-Hispanic whites did.

Critics of the race argument point to homemaking diva Martha Stewart and U.S. presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - both of whom served time for perjury - as evidence that if Bonds has been singled out unfairly it's because of the size of his paycheque, not the colour of his skin.

They also note the multiracial makeup of the other figures swept up in the steroids scandal linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

Like Bonds, New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, who is white, was given immunity from criminal prosecution when he testified before the BALCO grand jury. Unlike Bonds, Giambi acknowledged taking steroids and weathered the fallout.

In Millner's view, a face-by-face analysis of athletes tarnished by steroids allegations misses the larger point about selective enforcement, as does the suggestion that Bonds would fare better if he had a more pleasant public persona.

"Black people may not embrace Barry Bonds, but they look with a jaundiced eye at why Barry and not Karl Rove, why Barry and not the remaining Enron engineers," Millner said. "He epitomizes the insular Black athlete, and that rubs some wrong."

The ongoing investigation of doping in baseball might dispel some of the suspicion that prosecutors reserved a special bulls-eye for Bonds if other current players, especially white pitchers, are implicated and punished, Lapchick said.

"How long it took them is a sad statement for baseball. They portrayed their whole don't-ask, don't-tell policy about steroids, when a large part of (Bonds') generation of players probably did the same thing," Lapchick said. "He wasn't doing it himself."



Blogger ichbinalj said...

"To help children make right choices, they need good examples. Athletics play such an important role in our society, but, unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message - that there are short cuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character" - George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 2004

11:58 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Barry Bonds fiasco can only end in one way that makes any sense. And that's with Bonds burnt to death in a giant wickerman, thus not only cleansing baseball's soul, but guaranteeing good crops for years to come.
Is there anybody who doesn't think that baseball is awash with steroids? Really? Is there anybody who thinks the franchise owners are entirely ignorant and innocent? Seriously? And that players who don't juice aren't under enormous pressure to do so? Is there anybody reading this who thinks that Bonds is even the worst abuser? For real?

12:00 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Since the San Francisco Giants slugger was indicted I've lost count of the number of times I've read the triumphalist canard: "This is a great day for baseball". As if the removal and punishment of this arrogant, swollen-headed, media-hostile alleged despoiler of America's favourite pastime would somehow restore baseball's golden age, render the oh-so-precious statistics once again meaningful and re-establish the sacred trust between the fans and the game's otherwise innocent and pristine players, owners and broadcasters.

Some have compared the hounding of Bonds to a lynching. They have a point. This is, after all, a society that sends more of its young black men to prison than it does to college, and that executes African-Americans in horribly disproportionate numbers. Can the get-Bonds campaign really be seen in isolation from that? Even in the light of the torrent of racist hate-mail he receives?

12:03 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Sportswriter Dave Zirin said: "I don't think that everyone against Bonds is a racist. I don't think every sportswriter who wants Bonds punished is a racist. And I certainly don't think anyone who believes in harsh penalties for steroid use is a racist. One can hate Barry Bonds and also spend Sundays singing "We Shall Overcome" with the Harlem Boys Choir before reading select passages from Go Tell It On The Mountain. But to argue that race has nothing to do with the saga of Barry Bonds is to practise ignorance frightening in its Rocker-ian grandiosity."

"This is something we, as African-American athletes, live with every day," Bonds has said. "I don't need a headline that says, 'Bonds says there's racism in the game of baseball.' We all know it. It's just that some people don't want to admit it. They're going to play dumb like they don't know what the hell is going on."

12:05 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

"Despite the fact that Bonds has never failed a drug test," says Zirin, "he has also been subjected to seething hatred in the press that is utterly unprecedented. Nothing is off limits. I've seen it all: comparing him to OJ Simpson? Sure. Comparing him to a child molester? Sure. Calls for a lynching? These are the words of John Seibel on ESPN radio: 'if he did it, hang him. Now I'm not saying hang him. I'm not saying hang him from a tree. I'm not saying strap him to a gurney and inject poison in his veins...'"

12:07 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Not everyone sees a problem. SF Giants manager Peter Magowan said: "I don't believe this is a case of racism. In fact, I think this shows how far we've come. If the media brought this up 20 years ago, they would have been considered racists."

"Now that's progress," says Dave Zirin. "The media can be as racist as they want without being called on it. The fact is that racism smears this entire story like rancid cream cheese on a stale bialy."

12:08 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said, "Whenever I go home I hear people say all of the time, 'baseball just doesn't like black people. Here's the greatest hitter in the game, and they're scrutinizing him like crazy. It's killing me because you know it's about race."

12:10 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Professor Gerald L Early wrote in the New York Times that much of the media coverage of Bonds "seems overweening in its condescension, unbearably self-righteous, self-serving, tendentious. It has the whiff of the sort of unctuousness white sportswriters displayed in days past when writing about Black athletes... in the 1960s".

"Today, Bonds is the bad Negro," writes Early, "the hip-hop sociopath who must be prevented from corrupting the achievements of the dignified Negro."

12:12 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Perhaps we should, despite all the evidence, accept the argument that the anger and hatred directed towards Bonds has nothing to do with race. And is entirely justified. Perhaps we should accept that - for reasons that have nothing to do with race - Bonds somehow embodies and personifies and is perhaps even the cause of everything that is wrong with modern baseball.

But there's still something bizarrely superstitious about the idea that the ritualized humiliation and punishment of an individual can save a sport's soul - especially a sport with as long and as ignoble a history of substance abuse as baseball. (A total of 63 MLB players have admitted to using steroids or have tested positive for steroids. Bonds isn't one of them.)

"I've done some fucked-up things, I admit it," Bonds said last year. "But there's only one perfect person in our society, and they put him on a cross."

He failed to add that it didn't work that time either.

12:13 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

(12 Dec. 2007) Major League Baseball and the Players Association share the blame for tolerating a widespread culture of drug abuse, George Mitchell's report on doping in baseball says.
Lawyers said the report assigns blame for the rise of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball "from top to bottom," and recommends that MLB and the union agree to outsource their drug testing program to an independent agency.
The sources would not reveal the names of players included in the report, but confirmed that as many as 80 are listed. One lawyer expected several "very, very high-level names" to be exposed, although former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is frank in the report about how difficult it was to get information regarding the extent of player use.

6:46 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Mitchell's criticisms about the current testing procedures are similar to those baseball has dismissed from other critics in the past, such as calls for more frequent testing and greater transparency in the program.
Besides either appointing an independent administrator or hiring an outside agency to run the program (MLB currently administers the program in conjunction with the Players Association), baseball should:
• Improve to "state-of-the-art" testing, including additional year-round tests with fewer opportunities for players to escape detection.
• Allow the testing administrator to actively investigate "non-analytical positives," meaning information that can show a player violated the doping policy in the absence of a positive urine test. Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen, for example, were recently suspended after MLB received information from law enforcement sources documenting that the players had received banned drugs. Neither failed a drug test.
• Improve player education about performance-enhancing drugs.
• Allow greater transparency in the program, such as naming the drugs that players test positive for. Some players try to dodge responsibility for positive tests by saying they unwittingly took a tainted diet supplement. Certain drugs could not possibly have come from supplements, but because baseball doesn't name the substances it discovers, the press and public can't determine whether the player is telling the truth.

6:47 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The IOC formally stripped Marion Jones of her five Olympic medals on 12 Dec 2007, wiping her name from the record books following her admission that she was a drug cheat.
The International Olympic Committee also banned the disgraced American athlete from attending next year's Beijing Olympics in any capacity and said it could bar her from future games.
Last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations erased all of Jones' results dating to September 2000, but it was up to the IOC to formally disqualify her and take away her Olympic medals.
"She is disqualified and scrapped from the results," IOC president Jacques Rogge said at the close of a three-day executive board meeting.
"It was an easy decision," added IOC vice president Thomas Bach, a German lawyer who headed a three-member disciplinary panel in the case. "The facts were clear."

7:36 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Olympic gold medal champion Marion Jones has been sentenced to 6 months in prison for lying to federal prosecutors investigating the use of performance enhancing drugs in major sports.
She begged the judge not to separate her from her two young children "even for a short period of time".
Jones pleaded to U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, "I ask you to be as merciful as a human being cab be". The Judge was not persuaded or sympathetic. He sentenced her to the maximum allowed under the ples-bargain deal. he said he wanted to send a strong message to all athletes who have abused drugs.
The 31 year old Gold Medal Olympic champion was also given 2 years probation and supervised release. She will be required to serve 800 hours community service. She won 3 Gold Medals and 2 Bronze Medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was required to return them.
Marion Jones will begin serving her prison sentence on 11 March 2008.

10:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home