Wednesday, July 25, 2007

THE BALLAD OF BARRY LAMAR BONDS: Insofar as we remain a blog that occasionally talks about sports, our effective silence on the Bonds/755 thing is a bit odd. This Joe Sheehan column on Baseball Prospectus today should be a good icebreaker:

Were [Selig] the commissioner of baseball rather than the owners’ representative in their ongoing leverage games with the MLBPA, Selig might have taken this opportunity to shift the focus from allegations to facts, from speculation to celebration, from off the field to on it. Barry Bonds may not be a sympathetic character, but he has done what Betancourt, Franklin, Rincon, and Mota haven’t —urinated in a cup for four years and not been suspended.

Rather than issue a press release that effectively threw Bonds under the bus, and backed entirely by the available facts, Selig could have stood up and said, “We have the toughest testing program in professional sports, one that has not only caught a number of steroid users, but has also served to all but eradicate the use of PEDs in our game. Barry Bonds is one of baseball’s greatest players. I can do nothing about the opinions of others, but I can stand by our testing program. I wish Bonds all the best as he pursues what may be our game’s most cherished individual record, and I look forward to being in attendance when he makes history.”

This would have changed the narrative. This would have put the nominal commissioner of baseball in a position as the game’s cheerleader, its greatest fan, its biggest supporter. It’s the kind of thing David Stern or Paul Tagliabue would have done. A true commissioner should be a source of positive public relations, but time and time again, Selig has shown that he will denigrate the game and its players in the interests of the 30 men for whom he works. His actions here are no different from his actions in the labor wars of 1994 and 2002, when the man who inspired the term “anti-marketing” tore down baseball and baseball players as part of a labor relations strategy.

Is anyone ready to cheer for #755 and 756?

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