Blame Bud Not Barry
Bud Selig helped honor Hank Aaron last night on the 40th anniversary of his record setting 715th home run. Selig referred to Aaron as the “true home run King.” This is an obvious stab at Barry Bonds, who has seven more home runs than Aaron and has the single season home run record. Bud Selig’s comment was inappropriate; especially for someone who is supposed to be bipartisan and someone who directly benefited from Bonds’ home runs. It is time for Barry Bonds to be exonerated because the steroid era isn’t his fault; it is directly the fault of Bud Selig.
As a life-long Padres fan I hated Barry Bonds. Every time the Giants came to town I booed him when he came to the plate, I screamed steroid jokes at him whenever I thought he was within earshot, and I loved seeing him squirm through all the steroid allegations and watching his career’s work asterisked. But in the seven years since his retirement I’ve had a change of heart. Barry Bonds may have used steroids, but what he did was no different than the rest of the players in his era or in any other era did.
Barry Bonds did whatever he could to try and give himself an advantage; little do people know Hank Aaron did the same thing. Bonds took steroids because they were the most beneficial thing on the market during his era. Hank Aaron took greenies (an amphetamine) because they were the most beneficial edge available at his time. The only difference between the two is that Bonds played thirty years later when human performance science had dramatically improved.
Like steroids, amphetamines such as greenies were banned in the United States without prescription but were not banned by Major League Baseball until 2006. If Aaron was willing to bend the rules to take greenies in the 60s and 70s who is to say that he would not have bent the rules and taken steroids if he were playing in the era of Barry Bonds?
Selig’s comments last night that made dismissing Bonds’ accomplishments not only acceptable, but the norm. Baseball was peaking in popularity during the steroid driven home run era and there is no way that MLB did not know about the widespread use of steroids. Now Selig and MLB are pretending they didn’t know about it and are using the players that they once marketed to make their sport grow as scapegoats. MLB needs to take some blame for the steroid epidemic and cut the players some slack.
Example: In public schools higher test scores mean more grant money. Hence, the higher the students achieve,, the more money the school makes, and the better the students do the better their “stats” are on their resumes for college apps or whatever they choose to do after school. Both parties benefit from good scores, just like MLB and the players benefited from increased home runs. If a Principle is fully aware that perhaps half of his students are cheating on the test, including most of his highest scorers, but chooses to look the other way; who is at fault when the school board cracks down on cheaters? Furthermore if there was some foul play but it is hard to pin point exactly who cheated and who didn’t, is it fair to punish a student who by all indications probably cheated but there is no proof suggesting that he/she did?
In my opinion the one who is the most at fault is the Principle, or in this case MLB. They benefited by creating a culture that rewarded cheaters which encourages more cheating. MLB easily could have put policies in place but chose to look the other way until they were pressured by outside forces.
Bud Selig has been the acting Commissioner, then Commissioner since 1992, right when the steroid era boomed. If he wants to call Hank Aaron the “true home run King” and dismiss Bonds’ career then he needs to dismiss his own career as well.