If you’ve read any literature at all about Barry Bonds – the book I prefer is “Love Me, Hate Me …” by Jeff Pearlman – then you have read that one of the reasons Bonds started taking steroids was because he was jealous of the attention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa got for their home run chase in 1998.
“If they want home runs, I’ll give them home runs.”
And home runs he gave. Or home runs he sent, I suppose. Bonds hit more homers in a single season than any other player when he hit 73 in 2001, breaking McGwire’s mark of 70 set just three years before that.Â Bonds hit more homers in a career – 762 – than any other player.
And this week, Bonds saw the opportunity to deflect some of the attention for the Giants’ run to a World Series berth onto himself when he said he would like to one day be the hitting coach for the Giants.
First thing that bothers me isÂ the fact that the Giants already have a hitting coach in Hensley Meulens. Most people – in good taste – wouldn’t say publicly they want a job that is already occupied. Considering the ways that the Giants organization bent over backwards for Bonds in the past, you wonder how Meulens is feeling right now.
Secondly, I still don’t like the idea of Bonds or any other known – and let’s face it, it’s pretty much known by now – steroid user being allowed back into the game like this. If you think they should be in the Hall of Fame, then fine. I could stomach that, although I would disagree with their inclusion. But I don’t think they should be allowed back on the field.
McGwire became hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals prior to this season. Do you think Bonds saw some of the attention McGwire got for receiving that job and wanted it for himself? That would be strange, since I’m guessing McGwire would have preferred to not be in the spotlight if given the option.
Shortly after the Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series, it became obvious that gambling and the throwing of games was widespread throughout baseball. A man by the name of Kennesaw Mountain Landis was tabbed as commissioner and given the responsibility of cleaning up the game.
He sent a message to those cheaters by banning eight Chicago White Sox players from baseball for life. And I don’t know for certain since I wasn’t born for about another 60 years after that, but to my knowledge gambling wasn’t a big problem again, at least until Pete Rose came along.
About a decade ago, steroid use in baseball was pretty widespread. After years of ignoring the problem, MLB commissioner Bud Selig stepped up his testing program, but nobody has ever been banned for it. And the players’ union accepts a lot of the blame, too, for getting in the way of harsher penalties.
What’s done is done, though. I don’t want to get into the steroid use in baseball other than to say I don’t think these guys should be wearing big league uniforms again. They cheated the game in order to profit from it, just like the players in the 1919 scandal did.
It would serve Selig well to send a message, just as his predecessor did.