Monday, May 08, 2006

Poorly Done S.I. Biased Book: It Gets Worse

As I've made clear in my postings, I don't really care much for the "evidence" provided by the two books that came out this season on Barry Bonds. They are based either on the word of people who have great motivation to make up stories or have been refuted by the few people of note quoted in the excerpts. So I have no plans to read through either book, I have much better uses of my time. If I thought there was something substantial in it, I might be lured into reading but from what I've seen, it wouldn't be worth my time. But if there are excerpts, I can't help but see what they have to say, just to see if their evidence gets any better.

So I was perusing ESPN - they have nice stats there - and ran across an excerpt of Jeff Pearlman's book, for whom someone humorously posted a plea for me to provide a link to the book or something - ha ha, pretty pathetic. Again, as I've noted before when I read small excerpts that had been published, there are obvious bias in the writing, that rings out clearly in the text, which makes me severely doubt their objectivity in their writing and whether they skewed certain things to make their story work, or worse, twist things around to their liking. Stories of author acting badly seem to crowd the headlines lately, even celebrated authors, so it is not like it is that unusual an occurence.

Turning a Blind Eye

Jeff Pearlman clearly showed his biased reporting - again as he was a SI writer and they have a long history of bias there against Bonds - with this short excerpt from his book - he was the one where two major figures in the quotes deny the version of the "truth" as presented in the book. In this new excerpt, he ignores huge holes in his story regarding motivation and what the reality of the situation was. He then downplays the horrible behavior of Barry's teammates (the excerpt was about Bonds' time with the Arizona State University baseball team) but plays up Bonds bad side, of which most fans know exists. Not to condone it, but in this jaded world of athletes acting badly, Bonds is not even among the leaders when you have people like Latrell Sprewell, Terrell Owens, Jason Williams (not sure on name, New Jersey Net guy who "accidentally" shot and killed his chauffeur and is on trial now), embarrassing their brethren with their behavior.

First off, the author started out pointing out how Bonds would steal the homemade chile that one player's mom would send him as a CARE package. That and other examples he provided was suppose to make the case that Bonds was a horrible, spoiled son of a rich professional athlete. But then he loses any credibility with any discerning reader by then adding parenthetically, as if it was no big deal:
"Confession," says Lopez. "We were [taking his car without permission]. It was
the nicest car around and when he went home for Thanksgiving or Christmas we'd
cruise around in that thing like rock stars.").
So, yes, Bonds appears horrible for stealing his teammates food (and I would note, a teammate ratted him out but how does the reader know that this teammate wasn't the real culprit and put the blame on Bonds knowing that it will be his word against Bonds'? There was no confession by Bonds) but the writer then misses totally the possible motivation for that: retaliation for other players stealing his car for a joy ride. My understanding of that law regarding that, and I'm no lawyer, is that what Lopez did was grand theft auto, which is a felony.

Plus, really, when you are screwing around with a man's car, not to get all macho, but you are screwing around with him. How many of you males would allow your friend to learn how to drive a stick shift with your car? Most I knew would not think of it, I had to rent a car and learn on that. And I was the same when it came time to teach my girlfriend how to use a stick, I didn't let her use mine either. And the few times I was allowed to drive my friends' car, back seat driving does not even describe it (and I've driven about 300,000 miles with a stick on two cars and have not had to change my clutch yet, so it's not like I would burn out their clutch).

So, yes, if you can accept the word of a player who ratted out Bonds but was the first person accused by the player who had his food taken, then Bonds was bad for stealing food but then another player commits grand theft auto joyriding and that is written off as no big thing. No big thing when it could have been a pervasive thing that other players were doing to Bonds behind his back, that could have been the tip of the iceberg for all any open-minded reader would know. Obviously, there were a number of players who did not like Bonds' act and if they have no fear of him now, how likely is it that Bonds was not just returning the favor back to his teammates for their behavior towards him? Pretty likely in my opinion.

Missing A Fat Pitch Down the Middle: Pop Quiz, Name the Racist in this Picture

Then this writer misses another big dynamic that could have been pervasive in the lockerroom: racism. Again, it was written off as no big deal:
In March of '84, the Sun Devils flew to Honolulu for a four-game series against
the University of Hawaii. This trip was troubled to begin with. On the
seven-hour flight an ugly exchange took place when Rector -- who earlier in the
season had made an ill-advised comment about placing bombs in the lockers of
black teammates -- referred to black outfielder Mike Devereaux as a "n-----."
The mild-mannered Devereaux barked back at Rector, and shoves were exchanged.
"That was a total misunderstanding," says Rector. "Mike and I were friends. I
was just joking around. I liked almost all of the colored guys on the team."
Is this guy totally writing with blinders on? I am just flabbergasted that a national author, a book company and all their checkers, and even ESPN, for posting the excerpt, missed this.

The Color Racist

"Colored." As in his writing was "colored." As in, not surprised that a white author would miss this: what type of people TODAY uses the word "colored", particularly for a book that they know would be published to much publicity and controversy? Even the author had enough sense to say that Mike Devereaux is black, but the ballplayer, Randy Rector, used the term "colored".

Racist. As in one of those closet racists who appear to be nice on the surface but underneath is a racist, but apparently he thinks he's a friend. As in, where's there's smoke, there is probably fire. As in, who jokes around about placing bombs in the lockers of particular race of players. As in, who jokes around calling anyone a "n-gg-r", in polite or impolite company? From what I can tell, it is allowed sometimes among fellow blacks, but I would bet that when the crowd is racially mixed, it is right up there with shouting "I love America" in the middle of an Al Queda camp.

And even worse what type of person would call this "ill-advised"? "Ill-advised?!?" How about downright stupid? How about this was the end of the 20th Century, after "I have a Dream," after Civil Rights marches, what happened to dignity for all human beings? Ill-advised my ass, it was totally racist.

And that even today, in the new millenium, he feels free enough to be openly quoted as calling his fellow players "colored" speaks huge volumes about the environment that Bonds may have felt he was in when he was in Arizona. He saw up close and personally how racism affected his dad and godfather, and that could be a huge reason why Rector is talking badly about Bonds and why Bonds may have felt the need to act the way he did in that lockerroom.

And this probably explains Rector's problem with Barry, which he still holds to this day, I searched for articles on him and he made it clear when Barry's name came up that he didn't hold Barry in high regard. Probably because Barry was so up front with his superiority and so high and mighty because he, well, he played so well and Rector, well, he was so good he never even got a cup of coffee in the majors.

The Real Problem: His Teammates

And the whole point of this passage is to paint Bonds as this pariah of the lockerroom with the ASU Sun Devils, how he was so hated that the team, when given the chance to vote him off the island, decides to kick him off the team. And this was no small deal, the author notes, as Bonds had "strong numbers (.360, 11 home runs, 55 RBIs, 30 stolen bases) in 1984 for a team that went 55-20...". So he must have been a pretty horrible bad-ass, right?, the team voted him off.

Well, here's what I would conclude from this vote: the team was full of young, idealistic wusses who didn't understand, and worse, didn't APPRECIATE, baseball genius. I saw this dynamic in the companies I have worked for, young people would come in, think they know how the world works or at least how it should work, and rail at the gods when things were not done exactly the way they thought it should be, every thing would work out so much better, if only.

In the real world, there will always be people who are the stars and sometimes they are huge pains in the neck. And they will get better treatment than you. If you are lucky, they are nice people, but too often they are pains in the neck and S.O.B.'s. However, you are left with the dilemma that without them, you may be out of a job because they are the rainmakers, they make your job relevent. You are smart enough, hopefully, to know and appreciate this.

In What Bizarro Universe is This Only "Strong"?

"Strong numbers"?!? Strong numbers?!!!!? .300 with 30-40 RBI and 10 SB in 75 games is strong. He hit 3-freaking-60 with 55 RBI and 30 SB and 11 HR in 75 games in college. In a full MLB season, doubling that gets you 22 HR, 60 SB, and 110 RBI. That is not just strong numbers, those are numbers that put you among the elite.

And if a bunch of runny-nosed whiny college students don't understand that type of contribution to the team, then they are the people with the problem, not Barry. Unfortunately the coach was not aware of this dislike for Barry, otherwise he wouldn't have done such an ill-advised vote of confidence in Barry, that totally underminded his authority. But that is something he has to live with, not Barry.

"But few consoled Bonds, who set a World Series record with seven consecutive hits." I guess just the two who were smart enough to vote to keep Bonds, you don't put such an important decision in the hands of petty teenagers who have illusions of grandeur. Brock costed himself his authority and respect with that bonehead move.

Hello, Mr. Writer, you missed the point here, Bonds SET A WORLD SERIES RECORD WITH SEVEN CONSECUTIVE HITS and they still lost. Kind of proves the point about how good Bonds was and yet his team did not win. It may be rude and impolite and immodest, but good is good, and Bonds was great, even back then, and he let others know it.

As one of these whiners noted earlier in the article, "He had the ability to get under somebody's skin and just not care. We could lose 10-2 and he would let us know that at least he'd done his job." So what was there to console, in Bonds' case? As far as he was concerned, "he'd done his job," he just set a record with seven consecutive hits. In any case, HE did his best to help his team win the World Series, it was his teammates that fell short and yet, somehow, they blame and hate him, even all these years later.

Man in the Mirror

Look at his quote:
"He was missing practices, showing up late, leaving early, says Louie
Medina, the Sun Devils' first baseman. 'He would say, 'Oh, I have a
stomach virus,' and it would be allowed. I can't speak for everyone, but I
was tired of his act."
First off, did Louie know what Bonds was doing with his other time? As we know today, Bonds did a lot of preparation work outside of what other players did, which, to me, earned him the privilege to not participate with the others. Is it fair? No. But that's life, deal with it, especially when you got a 40+ homerun .300 hitter on your team. Or would you rather have a nice gentleman manning LF for you and hitting poorly even compared to Mario Mendoza? If you are a freaking competitive just win type of guy, you put up with the circus atmosphere and hope you win some rings, you appreciate the opportunity to have such a player on your team.

Did Louie set a World Series record with seven consecutive hits? No. Did he hit .360 with 11 homers and 55 RBI and 30 SB during the season? I'm guessing No. Did he spend his off-time working in the gym and improving himself? I'm guessing No and even if he did, did he set a World Series record with seven consecutive hits? No again.

So why does he think he can complain about this, Bonds is helping his team win in a huge way, bend on your knees to the ground and kiss the dirt, and thank goodness Bonds is on my fricking team. Instead he is whining about "being tired of his act." What act? That he is one of the best players on the team? That was no act, he put it out there between the foul lines for 20 seasons now. He should look himself in the mirror and wonder who exactly it was who had an "act."

How Low Can You Go

Lastly, I'll end with this lame attempt to belittle Bonds:
But Barry was different. He would sit alone in front of the TV every morning, watching the cartoon "He-man" and giggling hysterically. He would sneak into Lopez's closet and swipe his new Ralph Lauren shirts without asking. ("Guy sweated like a pig," says Lopez.)

Let's be clear here, we are talking about college students here, not mature (relatively) adults and even some adult males would do the same thing too. So what's the big deal? And the author also notes Bonds having a Trans Am sports car, but really, again, what's the big deal? Personally, I would put the Trans Am down low the totem pole in terms of sports cars. Bobby Bonds probably could have bought him a top of the line Z or Mustang, but to me this car is not one of extravagent excess - excess yes, no college student should be getting a new sports car, but relative to the car that most kids with wealthy parents get, this is practically frugal.

Besides which, that student would be one to talk: the only college students I know back then who could afford NEW Ralph Lauren shirts, heck knew even who Ralph Lauren, were wealthy themselves - I know that I was wearing clothes from Sears and JC Penney and Montgomery Ward, and never even heard of Ralph Lauren until much older, when I found out that my girlfriends like that sort of upscale and expensive stuff (thank goodness there's an outlet store nearby in Gilroy). Maybe his family couldn't afford to get him a car, but if they were buying him, a regular college student, new Ralph Lauren shirts, they were pretty well off.

The Color Lame

All in all, I would put this excerpt up there with his other excerpt in terms of lameness. So far his first two main bits of information are refuted by the people named in the events (Griffey and Canizaro) and now he is relying mainly on the words of two people who have an axe to grind with Bonds and who, no matter how awfully Bonds may have treated them, returned the favor in spades with abominable behavior, not just "ill-advised".

And he missed one HUGE point that would color anything that happened in college. And that is that there appeared to be a strong racist dynamic coloring anything that happened there. Rector clearly is a closet racist - who except the most socially inept buffoon would joke about bombing the lockers of black (or otherwise) people, who would think that it was a "misunderstanding" when he called a fellow player the n-word, who would think TODAY that it is acceptable to call anyone "colored" openly. Just people who are similar to the people who wear pointy white dunce caps with eyeholes and ride around on horses terrorizing people.

That would be a bigger story to me, but then I only have to worry about a crazed autoworker bashing me in the head with a bat during my bachelor party and killing me because I appear to be Japanese or a stranger at a home I happen to ring the doorbell shooting me dead at the doorstep because he was scared and nothing, NOTHING, of consequence happened to any of the killers. In the former case, the killers afterward begged to be left alone and want to move on. Sure, they aren't dead with a grieving fiance and family, they can move on. But at least they spent two years behind bars, the guy in the latter case got off scot free.

Jeff Pearlman would never have to worry about that, so, of course, it is no big deal with him, else he would have caught on to such a blatant act of racism and then, of all things, let the guy off by describing it only as "ill-advised". Like sending up the space shuttle with the o-ring problem was "ill-advised." Like General Custer was "ill-advised." Like investing your life savings in Webvan stock was "ill-advised." Like reading this book is "ill-advised."

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