You Suck, Barry

The cheating bastard on the right, you might recognize. He's all over the TV, the newspaper and the internets at the moment. Barry Bonds, major league baseball's new all-time Home Run King. The fellow on the left? The one who doesn't even appear to be the same species as Bonds? Yeah, that's Bonds, too. Okay, maybe he just started a new weight-training program a few years back. Or, more likely, he's a great big cheating bastard. Earlier this evening, the 'roided-up San Francisco Giants slugger hit his 756th career home run. It's an achievement of sorts, I guess. Bonds calling himself the Home Run King is sort of like someone riding the Cog Railway to the summit and then claiming to have climbed Pikes Peak.

I'm not a great fan of or participator in the Moral Outrage that is popular amongst sports columnists these days. The sportswriters have collectively turned in thousands upon thousands of column inches about how the antics of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens have besmirched the proud and upstanding traditions of American football. Me, I thought it was hilarious when T.O. pulled a Sharpie out of his sock to autograph the football with which he had just scored a touchdown, and absurd but essentially harmless when Moss pretended - pretended, mind you - to moon the fans at Lambeau Field. But here we have a bit of Moral Outrage I can get behind.

You suck, Barry.

Being a self-aggrandizing prick isn't exactly noble, but it is, in the end, fairly meaningless. Being crass and vulgar is no more admirable, but again, it's meaningless. Hell, Babe Ruth, the God of American Professional Athletes, was a crass, vulgar, self-aggrandizing prick. Cheating is something else entirely. I wouldn't care if Bonds, who has long been widely regarded as the biggest asshole baseball has to offer, had set the record if a reasonable case could be made that he had done so honestly. Fair and square, as they say.

Some apologists are making the argument that we are living through "the Steroid Era" of professional baseball, and Bonds' accomplishment is okay because everyone he's playing against is juiced up, too. This argument is total bullshit. That everyone is cheating doesn't make cheating okay. More importantly, Bonds has notably been competing against two people who weren't on the 'roids: Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.

I hate to be all "won't someone please think of the children?" here, but won't someone please think of the children? How are we supposed to teach kids about the value of sportsmanship and fair play when someone is making headlines and raking in the dough by cheating, disregarding everything we think is important about not just sports but life in general, and everyone sees it, acknowledges that it's going on, and just shrugs and says, "Well, whattaya gonna do?" The message here isn't "cheating is wrong," but rather, "cheating sucks, but there's no way to stop it." The lesson is that it isn't wrong if you don't get caught, especially if there's a buck to be made.

Everyone involved comes out better if nobody really acknowledges what's going on. Barry gets his record. Major League Baseball gets to sell tickets and merchandise (this could, of course, lead into a whole other post: "You Suck, Bud Selig."). The sports media gets an event to hype and to debate.

And that's something I don't get - what's to debate? Why all the discussion on ESPN about "what do you think?" What can any reasonable person who loves baseball think? Bonds stole a coveted record with chemical enhancements. He cheated, plain and simple. How many opinions can anyone really have about cheating?

My fondest wish regarding Barry Bonds is that enough proof will come out over the next few years to nail him. Maybe he gets to keep his record, maybe not. But I have a lovely image in my head of Barry Bonds and Pete Rose appearing at baseball card shows together in fifteen years, both getting into the Hall of Fame only by paying admission, signing balls and desperately trying to gain the public's forgiveness and acceptance. Rose has, of late, been signing balls with the inscription, "Sorry I bet on baseball." Maybe they'll both be sitting there, side by side, at a table at the mall, signing balls, "Sorry for being scumbags." It'll never happen, of course. It's in everyone's interests to pretend the steroid problem doesn't exist, ignore it and it'll go away, so Bonds will be a sure-shot Hall-of-Famer, enshrined alongside the guys who did it the old-fashioned way. But it's a nice image, isn't it?

Bonds has officially put lie to the old chestnut, "Cheaters never prosper." He seems to be prospering just fine.

You suck, Barry. For your lofty achievements through cheating, you suck. You suck great, hairy, green, infected-pus-oozing, syphillitic donkey balls. You suck, you suck, you suck.

I really mean it. You suck, Barry.