It's a stressful day for Major league baseball, as commissioner Bud Selig has launched a steroid investigation just three days before the start of the 2006 season. Emotions are running high. Everyone seems to have a different opinion about the issues at hand.
There's a great article in thursday's edition of USA Today about Barry Bonds and the complex question of race against the background of the growing steroid scandal swirling around the San Francisc Giants Slugger. Here's an excerpt:
"As opening day looms Monday, baseball prepares an investigation of steroid use in the major leagues and the letters keep arriving, a debate gathers momentum:
Is Bonds, seven home runs from surpassing Babe Ruth for second on baseball's all-time home runs list, the latest African-American athlete to suffer the effects of racism, similar to the experience of all-time leader Hank Aaron?
Or is the anger directed toward Bonds a product of mounting evidence he used performance-enhancing drugs to reach this point in history?
Or could he be paying the price for a career of surly behavior toward fans and the media?
Whatever side of the debate they take, the participants — Bonds, other major league players and observers of the game — fervently and heatedly argue they're right.
"White America doesn't want him to (pass) Babe Ruth and is doing everything they can to stop him," says Leonard Moore, director of African and African-American Studies at Louisiana State University. "America hasn't had a white hope since the retirement of (NBA star) Larry Bird, and once Bonds passes Ruth, there's nothing that will make (Ruth) unique, and they're scared. And I'm scared for Bonds."
(The rest of the article can be viewed at www.usatoday.com)
....I take issue with the above statement from Mr. Moore, and I sent him an e-mail this afternoon to express my viewpoint about what he expressed. Here it is. If he responds, I'll post that here as well.
Subj: Barry Bonds & Steroids.
Date: 3/30/06 3:35:13 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: Scott Wichmann
CC: Scott Wichmann
Dear Mr. Moore,
I read your comments in thursday's USA TODAY feature story on Barry Bonds, and I have to respectfully disagree with you on a few points. You stated "White America doesn't want him to (pass) Babe Ruth and is doing everything they can to stop him,"....and "America hasn't had a white hope since the retirement of (NBA star) Larry Bird, and once Bonds passes Ruth, there's nothing that will make (Ruth) unique, and they're scared. And I'm scared for Bonds."
I am a white male, and rather than being offended by your comments, I simply choose think they are the comments of someone who has not considered all angles of the story. (And, frankly, someone who doesn't really follow the sports world that closely) There are some black americans that think, as you seem to, that MLB is going after Mr. Bonds "Simply because he is black," and choosing to ignore the overwhelming evidence that he used illegal perfomance-enhancing drugs. Conversely, there is a certain section of white America who hold onto racist attitudes for whom your assesment is correct. But they aren't the entire story.
The presumuption that ALL white people in America don't want to see Barry Bonds pass Babe Ruth is preposterous. I would be all in favor of his surpassing the Bambino's home run total had he gotten to where he is without the use of performance-enhancing drugs. It would be nothing but good for the game of baseball. Mr. Bonds would be a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer even if he had never gotten involved with Messrs Conte & Anderson at the BALCO Lab, and it pains me to see the overwhelming evidence of his 'juicing.'
To me, his accomplishments would be more impressive (from a historical perspective) had he NOT used perfomance-enhancers in an era where many others did. I have so much more respect for guys like Ken Griffey, Jr for playing the game the right way, even though his numbers don't have the eye-popping totals of Mr. Bonds. It has nothing to do with race, at least not for me. I wish that MLB would place an asterisk next to the MGwire single-season total of 70 homers and duly note the statistics of Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco. The stats of slugger sammy Sosa are suspect as well. The entire era in baseball is tainted, (Much like the segregated pre-1947 era) and unfortunately for Mr. Bonds, his monumental achievements make him the present poster-boy for the rampant corruption and borderline consumer fraud that Major League Baseball played a huge role in perpetuating.
As a diehard lifelong baseball fan, I am more concerned about the safety and sanctity of Hank Aaron's magic total of 755 career home runs. Mr Aaron's homerun total represents something: Personal Integrity. How can you play the race card as your entire hand without looking at the issue of Steroids? You say you fear for Bond's safety-- What about his health?? Can you defend the man simply because he is a successful black man, staying ignorant of the other issues surrounding him?? What about the many young black (and white) men who will follow Bonds' lead, risking their health for a huge MLB payday?? Do you not fear for their safety?? What would Jackie Robinson say?? Two-time MVP and current Nationals manager Frank Robinson has advocated purging the stats of anyone found guilty of using steroids. He happens to be a black man-- is he a traitor to his race??
To adress your childish point that white america is mostly upset because it hasn't had a 'White Hope' since Larry Bird-- Just what the heck is a 'White Hope' anyway?? Aren't there plenty of white athletes who excel year after year?? Ever hear of Tom Brady? Roger Clemens? Mario Lemieux? I hardly think that white America is primed to lash out at Barry Bonds because of the residual shockwave caused by the retirement of Larry Bird in 1993. Your statement oversimplifies the complexity of the issue.
I look at athletes like Ichiro Suzuki, Yao Ming, Mike Grier, and the Irish National Baseball team as examples of sports figures who have made a positive impact on the world by defying convention and showing us what is possible. I will always root for anyone to strive for their best on the field as long as they display integrity, honesty, and passion. I am even willing to forgive those who have allowed that passion to cloud their judgement, as long as they are willing to take personal responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, it seems, Mr. Bonds is incapable of doing so, as is also the case with Mr. MGwire, Mr. Palmeiro, and the entire Major League Baseball hierarchy.
I look forward to your response, as it will probably contain points which I have heretofore failed to consider. Nevertheless, I wish you well.