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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bonds, Steroids, and...Griffey?

The latest news in the Bonds Steroid Saga, stemming from an excerpt from an upcoming Bonds biography by Jeff Pearlman, implicates Griffey as someone who was aware that Bonds intended to start using steroids. If you haven't yet read that story yet, please go check it out. And then read Marc Lancaster's piece on Griffey's response in which he potentially discredits the entire passage. And then come back here.

Look, like "everyone who has ever watched baseball", I think it's very likely that Bonds did, in fact, take steroids. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence that leads to this conclusion. But when I read that Pearlman piece, I found it decidedly creepy...and not just because it's dealing with Bonds. Read the following excerpts:
Nevertheless, Griffey understood how Bonds felt. For most of the past decade, they had been the sport's two top players. Now, from their point of view, men with significantly less talent were abusing drugs to reach their level. Where was the fairness? The integrity? Griffey didn't agree with Bonds' position, but he certainly empathized.

Though Bonds delivered the sentiment with a broad smile, he was in fact feeling unappreciated, grumpy and terribly jealous. Just one day earlier, after the Associated Press reported that a bottle of androstenedione had been found in McGwire's locker, Bonds scoffed. He was well aware McGwire had ingested more than vegetables and vitamin C tablets to become the size of The Thing. "I use that stuff too," Bonds told teammates. "The difference is Mac's doing stuff I wouldn't think of." The belief that McGwire was cheating infuriated Bonds, who -- for all his faults -- respected the sanctity of the record book.
What is the factual justification for this author's descriptions of both Junior's and Bonds' thoughts? It's all complete speculation, and yet it's written in an omniscient, almost autobiographical voice. Clearly this is not objective journalism.

It was this tone that was most striking to me while I read this Pearlman's article. It's one thing to have quotes from unnamed sources--which I also don't like when you're trying to destroy someone's reputation--but essentially providing an inner monologue of two guys who were never even interviewed for this book is going way to far. The book is authoritatively written, but that doesn't mean what is in it is correct. I realize one has to tell a story when writing a biography. However, in my eyes, this book is written for little purpose other than to exploit the Barry Bonds tragedy for financial gain.

While I'm doubtful of his innocence, I think you can still argue, as Junior did yesterday, for reasonable doubt in the Bonds situation. Some day, we may get really conclusive evidence of his steroid use. I'm talking more than hearsay of some "eye witnesses"; I'd like to see BALCO records with Bonds' name on it indicating steroid usage, receipts of steroid purchase in Bonds' name, etc. But this sort of exploitive crap is bad for the game, and just about everyone who is associated with it.

Except for Jeff Pearlman. I'm sure he'll get paid. -j