MLB must verify that Bonds is clean or hallowed records will ring hollow
Posted: Thursday December 2, 2004 2:14PM; Updated: Monday December 6, 2004 2:19AM
Anyone who was surprised by last night's news that Yankees slugger Jason Giambi used steroids, which he admitted to a federal grand jury and was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, is either na´ve or works for Major League Baseball. The formerly pumped-up power hitter, who has recently been dogged by injuries and mysterious illnesses (including a benign tumor in his pituitary gland and an intestinal parasite last season), testified he injected himself with human growth hormone in 2003 and also used steroids for at least three seasons.
So, while the Yankees do their best to void the remaining four years on Giambi's fat contract and everyone wonders whether Giambi's brother, Jeremy, got a bad batch of the stuff, it's time for MLB commissioner Bud Selig to step up to the plate. Before the 2005 season, Selig must find out what Barry Bonds told the grand jury in the BALCO case. The Giants' star, who has 704 career dingers, will enter the '05 campaign with designs on passing the career home run marks of Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755 homers), the latter arguably the most hallowed mark in American sports. Unless he suffers a serious injury, Bonds is certain to roll past Ruth by early May and Hammerin' Hank no later than '06. When Bonds breaks those milestones, baseball and its media partners will no doubt celebrate and hyperbolize. The arguments will start anew about whether Bonds is better than Ruth, even though the Babe clearly has better all-around numbers and has played in fewer games. That's not the point. At least not now.
The point is that Selig must know how bad baseball would be rocked if Bonds were to pass Aaron with full MLB honors and then learn that his association with alleged steroid dealer Greg Anderson was more than just a long-time friendship. Why is it that every time another steroid abuser is discovered among baseball's ranks, the detective work is done by media members? MLB had better get out its magnifying glass and go Sherlock Holmes on the cheaters.
Submit a comment or question for El Hombre.
One of the byproducts of the past two years of Red Sox mania is that baseball no longer has to rely on the long ball to generate excitement in its game. Boston's World Series win was a great story, and efforts by the Yankees and other teams to surpass the Red Sox should fuel the hot-stove league and generate even more interest. If it turns out that Bonds has been hanging around Anderson for reasons other than just childhood reminiscences, baseball can handle the hit -- but only if makes the announcement. If it's left to the reporters at The Chronicle to keep poking around, baseball will again be exposed as a corrupt business that is unwilling to take the measures necessary to protect what's left of its flagging integrity. Bonds' records will be meaningless, and that glorious Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire summer will be scrutinized anew.
So, Bud, get on it. Hire Horatio Caine. John Shaft. Miss Marple. Let loose the hounds. Find out whether Bonds used steroids, so that when he cracks his record-breaking taters you can either celebrate with a (somewhat) clear conscience or put a lid on the fireworks and propaganda.
EL HOMBRE SEZ: The Toronto Blue Jays have announced a deal to buy SkyDome for $21 million, quite a deal, considering the stadium cost $375 million to build. Looks like that Canadian dollar's in worse shape than we thought. ... The NC2A has decided to consider whether 28 bowl games are enough. Let's hope the geniuses in Indianapolis don't curb the total. It would be great to see the Sun Belt's fourth-place team play the WAC's sixth finisher before a crowd of 14,000 in Toronto next year.
AND ANOTHER THING: El Hombre sees nothing wrong with Notre Dame's decision to fire Tyrone Willingham because of his inability to win consistently, so long as the Fighting Irish stop their rampant hypocrisy. For a long time, a winning Irish team has touted itself as college football's preeminent program. When ND loses, it's the admissions department's fault. If your goal is to be at "an elite level," as AD Kevin White said on Tuesday, that's fine. Just stop trying to blame your failings on something other than your coach, your talent or your play. It's great that the university wants to graduate its student-athletes and attract strong students. More schools should do it. But stop using that as an excuse when you don't win, especially if you're going to fire a coach whose integrity in all the other parts of college football is impeccable. The decision to fire Willingham can be justified, but only if the Fighting Irish are willing to admit that their ultimate goal is to swim in the same muddy water atop the polls as the rest of the college football powerhouses and that they are willing to take drastic measures to get into said pool.