Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bonds Overturned Conviction Upheld: Media Got it Right For Once With Bonds

Following is my comment after the news that Bonds' conviction is finally laid to rest, the government will not push this to the Supreme Court for judgement, I was happily surprised by the journalist's take in his article regarding Bonds finally clearing his name for that outrageous conviction for "obstruction" (if that is obstruction, then any politician and/or lawyer who ever spoke to a Grand Jury - hello Bill Clinton - should be convicted for felony as well).

ogc thoughts

Finally, an accurate recounting of Barry Bonds' testimony! Basically EVERY recounting of his convictions (at least that I've read) states that he admitted his guilt in taking steroids, whereas this account notes that he was not aware that he was taking it. He has been indicted by every journalist I've read until now (and I read widely). I applaud Howard Mintz for doing a good job of journalism!

Friends Can Screw You Sometimes

Now, I don't know whether Bonds knew or didn't know whether it was steroids or not, but at minimum, his story was at least plausible, that a friend whom he trusted, gave him illegal drugs that turned out to be steroids. Perhaps with Bill Cosby's well publicized admission that he took advantage of friends and acquaintances by supplying drugs unbeknownst to them will now convince some of the public that sometimes people will take advantage of their friends.

If a friend told you that he was using herbal remedies to help you naturally heal, flaxseed oil and rubbing balm, and that friend was also your trainer and buddy you hang out daily and exercise with, would you take his stuff and analyze it to see what's in it?

Or let's put it into a situation where most people have experience in. If you went to a pot luck, would you bring a food analyzer to check out every bit of food before it goes into your mouth? It would be kind of insulting, wouldn't it?

That's why I'm disappointed by Ted Robinson. He was hosting a show on KNBR once and noted that a control freak like Bonds would not use something without testing it out, and thus, he declared openly, he was guilty of deciding to use the drugs. But like the fable of the elephant and the six blind men, how much did he really know Bonds? It was not like they were friends, he only saw one side of Bonds. And I really like him as an announcer and as a host, which made it more disappointing to me.

Bonds Could Be Innocent

And Bonds' side of the story makes some sense. Look at it from the angle assuming that Bonds is innocent. A friend is jealous of his boyhood's friend's success, and it don't help that Bonds was cheap with his entourage. He decides to take advantage of his friend's success by selling the drugs that many in the game is accused of using by at minimum, using his access to the clubhouse through his friend, implying to buyers that he gives the same stuff to his buddy Bonds.

Now whether he actually gave steroids to Bonds or not, I have no idea. I'm sure he gave similar substances. Maybe he gave the real stuff to Bonds but the drugs to his clients. Maybe he was mad at Bonds and gave him the stuff to pay back "Mr Cheap and Mighty".  Maybe it was just all about the money.  We have no way of knowing.

Only Anderson Knows

Unfortunately, the only person who knows is Anderson and he refused to testify. Either way, he had incentives to not testify. If Bonds was not guilty but actually given flaxseed oil, then that means his friend used his friendship to make big bucks. If Bonds was not guilty but was given the drugs, then that means his horrible friend poisoned him in order to make big bucks. If Bonds was guilty, then his friend would be outing Bonds, snitching. Plus, by not testifying, it makes Bonds looks guilty while making Anderson look like he was the accomplice protecting his buddy, instead of a lousy friend who took advantage of his friend, making him look good, as he's sitting in jail presumably so as not to testify to his friend's guilt.

But nobody knows, not even the IRS agent who started this expensive wild goose chase, nobody but Anderson. People point to Bonds' improvement as he aged, but other baseball greats improved as they aged, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron are two notable exceptions (so was Darrell Evans, for long time Giants fans). It's an anomaly but not unprecedented.  And he continued hitting well even after BALCO exploded on the news scene, and presumably he wasn't using anymore.

Plus it makes sense given what we know and see of how he hits, approaches each AB, and sharp eye.   We all know that a big athlete does not necessarily translate into home run power.  Hank Aaron and Ted Williams were skinny phenoms when they came up, and that didn't prevent them from hitting a lot of homers.   As he likes to state, he's blessed with god-given talents that none of us have and thus can't understand.

Maybe It Was A Juiced Ball

And people don't even understand what is possible with drugs or how hitting a baseball works. There is great info at this site, written and updated by the real genius who wrote the A's baseball bible, Eric Walker:  steroids-and-baseball.  He makes a great case that it was juiced balls that created this offensive era (much like the "live ball" era in the 1920's), and that a lot of the assumptions people make about PEDS and how hitting a baseball works are simply wrong. Ironically, he was told off by other sabers because "it don't pass the smell test."

6 comments:

  1. If I am gaining 20 or 30 pounds of muscle, my hat size is approaching that of Bruce Bochy's, (although he was not the giants manager back then.), My well hit balls are now going 465 feet instead of 420 feet, I have to ask the guy giving me the injections, what the heck is in that stuff? Anyway our system allots for innocent until proven guilty, and the case was purely circumstantial has they could not know what was in Barry's thoughts. The Bonds era was a great giants era, and it is too bad that he did not get a world series ring. Bonds, is clearly a true Giants fan himself. He should without a doubt be in the hall of fame. If he does not get in, they need to start an alternative hall of fame.

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    1. He could rationalize that all those workouts with his trainer is leading to the extra muscle all over. Also, he never got any injections, he was given the "cream" (rubbing balm) and the "clear" (flaxseed oil).

      I agree that he should be in the Hall of Fame, else they should just close it down. Same with Pete Rose, it's not the Hall of Fame if the hit leader is not in it, as far as I'm concerned, or the homerun leader now.

      Thanks for your comment.

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  2. Or he could be indifferent as to whether he's taking approved drugs, such as those that ballplayers frequently get when, for example, they're ailing, or ones widely used but not approved. Ironically, the steroids he took may well have contributed to the anger, surliness, and hostility ("roid rage") that made the sportswriters resentful, and prompt the retaliatory scorn which underlies their refusal to vote him into the HOF, despite his transcendent greatness on the field.

    On a different note, I saw that although the Giants and A's have scored about the same number of runs and allowed about the same number of runs, their records differ vastly because of their records in close games. The Giants have won slightly more than half of their one-run games while the A's have lost a good many more one-run games than they've won. This stat made me think of you, ogc, since you've repeatedly called attention to Bochy's fine record in one-run games (and I suppose, by extension, in close games more generally). I hadn't seen anyone but you adduce this stat till whoever it was hit upon it to help explain the disparity between the two Bay teams' records, and so to demonstrate its importance.

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    1. The thing is that Bonds was angry and surly even before he was suspected of taking steroids. In addition, his surliness I think was magnified by the press. His Babe Ruth comment was blown up because they didn't understand that he was joking around. I find that he's not a smooth talker and his humor might not translate. And when the press talked about the way he was angry after losing the World Series, what most of them did not realize was that because they were being rude and crowding in, they were crushing his son, who was with him.

      Thanks for pointing out the similarities of the A's and Giants, I didn't know that. I did know about the A's lousy record in one-run games, it is probably historically bad, in double digits negative. I wrote about it somewhere in either Fangraphs or somewhere.

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  3. It's funny that Bonds' infamous surliness was almost always directed at the media. His former teammates never talk smack about him--between the lines and in the dugout he was great. Barry respected the game, the other players, the umpires, the fans, etc. but passionately hated reporters, much like Ted Williams. I'm glad the BS is finally over and I hope this means we get to see more of Bonds with the Giants.

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    1. Good point about the dichotomy between teammates and the press (though I would note Jeff Kent, but to your point, vast majority all respect him). I've read before that this was due to how his father was beat up in the press before, so he carried his dad's hurt with him.

      I agree, hopefully this means more Bonds with the Giants, they were already starting to do more recently, and hopefully this should open things up to more, depending on what he wants to do. But ideally he would be great on the bench, helping teach our hitters to ID pitches and give all his hitting tips and reinforce them in game situations. And, perhaps even better, he was a masterful base stealer, he should have tips to help our players steal bases better as well.

      Delete

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