“Die a hero, or live long enough to become a villain”

I’ve been avoiding comment on the Barry Bonds trial thus far because I see it as an unfair persecution of a player who probably used performance-enhancing drugs and probably lied about it repeatedly to a grand jury, but shouldn’t be singled out of the hundreds of other players who also used.

Bonds doesn’t seem like a very nice person, although I don’t know him personally, and neither do any of you, so commenting on his personal character seems besides the point.  The fact is that Bonds was selected to be the fall guy for baseball and the steroid era.  He’s the guy who MLB and the U.S. government is going to make an example of to save their own asses.

And all of it, of course, has been done on the American taxpayer’s coin.

To say that this has nothing to do with the fact that Bonds is a black man is naive and honestly, just plain stupid.  I however, could not possibly articulate it better than my favourite sports writer Dave Zirin does in this article.

Here are a couple excerpts from the column:

“What did Bonds do to “obstruct justice”? According to one juror, “Steve,” the obstruction of justice charge was reached because, “The whole grand jury testimony was a series of evasive answers. There were pointed questions that were asked two or three or four different ways that never got clearly answered. That’s how we came to that.”  Wow. Apparently, a “series of evasive answers” lines you up for a 10-year sentence behind bars. By that standard, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby should be breaking rocks in Leavenworth for their performance at the Valerie Plame trial.”

[…]

“Major League Baseball and the US government has long decided that Barry Bonds would shoulder the burden for the steroid era. We’re here because a surly Black athlete who thinks that the press is just a step above vermin was easy pickings for an industry rife with systemic corruption. Major League Baseball made billions off of the steroid era, an era many now see as a rancid, tainted lie. It was an era where owners became obscenely wealthy and billions in public funds were spent on ballparks. The press cheered and America dug the long ball. Now the dust has cleared, our cities have been looted, Barry Bonds could be going to prison, and Commissioner Bud Selig still has a job – and a RAISE. With apologies to Harvey Dent, this is the story of the Black athlete today: die a hero or live long enough to be a villain. And the men in the suits walk – or in Selig’s case, slouch – all the way to the bank.”

Zirin more than hits the nail on the head.  Baseball is the love of my life, but the institution that is Major League Baseball is one of the most systematically corrupt around.  Whether its persecuting Bonds or treating Latin America like some sort of slave-level baseball factory, the corruption in the business is rife and despicable.

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