Thursday, March 17, 2005

Barry Bonds -- Hero of the Next Generation?

I wrote a whole lot about baseball's drug problems when the BALCO -- Grand Jury testimony leaked.

Now, 20 years too late, Congress is going to try to put the hammer on baseball.

I have not read Jose Canseco's book. I wish there was enough time to read everything I was mildly interested in.

However, the way I understand it, is that the point Canseco is making is not that baseball has a steroid scandal, but that it is too bad that something as useful to all mankind as steroids has to be marginalized the way it has been.

When Barry Bonds talks about "what is cheating," he is saying something along the same lines. Too bad he is such an arrogant fill-in-the-blank. But I still think that no matter how much Bonds gets booed, and worse, as he approaches 714 and then 755 homeruns, that history is on Bonds' side.

In the end, I fear that the Brave New World is coming. When corporations see that steroids can help their production line workers make more products over longer periods of time, and when white collar workers see that the guy on steroids can work longer hours and sell more, and get the corner office, and when parents of students see the young athlete on steroids get the track scholarship, and the young nerd on steroids able to study all night, everyone will demand, demand that steroids go into the drinking water.

Barry Bonds will be seen as an early pioneer against the doubters.

Will drug abusers, like Ken Caminiti die young? Ken Caminiti was a junkie. The steroids did not kill him, the cocaine did. Are you gonna let people like that impede your progress? Aren't you still drinking?

What, you don't want to run the risk of ruining your body with steroids in order to be more productive? Will steroids destroy you more than the grinding poverty you will face because you cannot compete effectively in a society where everyone is taking steroids but you?

But, hey, you're an adult. You want to throw your life away, go ahead. But don't prevent your children from competing fairly in school. You should, at least, let them take all the steroids they need.

Of course, by then, we won't be calling them steroids. They'll be the special blend from the organic vitamin shoppe. What can possibly be wrong with something from the organic vitamin shoppe. You will still be able to say that you're not taking steroids like that evil Barry Bonds did.

So Congress can express outrage, and maybe they will be able to destroy the business of baseball. In the end, whatever the science of steroids turns out to be, whatever turns out to be most helpful in keeping our competitive edge, is what will come to pass in our day-to-day lives. I don't expect Barry Bonds to be spun into Jonas Salk, but I think that as the years go on, our view of him may become a bit more balanced.