Wednesday, August 08, 2007

And so it is...

I didn't want it to happen. And I certainly didn't want it to happen against my favorite team.

But as CNN.com loaded when I opened my internet browser at a quarter till the ass crack of dawn this morning, my eyes jumped immediately to the blank stare of Brian Schneider and my heart sank.



And so it is. Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals joins the infamous club already populated by the likes of Al Downing, Tracy Stallard, Steve Traschel, and Chan Ho Park.

To Bacsik's credit, he seems to be handling it in a classy manner: "Me and Al Downing I guess will be linked for a long time," Bacsik said. "Hopefully, I can win 20 games and be an All-Star like him someday."

After reading Game of Shadows, there's little doubt in my mind that Barry Bonds is both a cheater and an asshole. Either one is reason enough to dislike the guy and be sad that he now holds both home run records, though the cheating thing is certainly the more compelling reason. Put the two together, though, and it's easy to see why most wish to hold him up as a poster boy for all that's wrong with Major League Baseball.

That would be a mistake. Though the evidence certainly suggests Bonds deserves our vile, he was not the first nor the last player to cheat by using steroids. There is also compelling evidence that previous home run heroes McGwire and Sosa were using, while Clay Hensley, the pitcher who gave up 755 to Bonds, was also busted for a positive test.

As many have already said, the suggestion of an asterisk for either of Bonds records is silly. Baseball, unfortunately, is a game of cheaters and scandals. The rules change from era to era, and different facets of the game become stronger or weaker. We'll always qualify certain events by remembering they occurred in the dead-ball era or the era of the dominant pitchers of the 1960's. Now we have the Steroid Era, and Bonds' achievements, remarkable as they are, will always be linked to suspicions of cheating, unless proof to the contrary emerges.

There's an excellent post from Chris on the subject, and he makes an important point. Much as we'd like the baseball record books to be a roster of American heroes, they're just numbers, not morality. Barry holds the records, for now at least. That's a fact, and we can't ignore. As for me, I plan to save my respect for the likes of Hank Aaron and Roger Maris.

Oh yeah, we won the game. Suck on that.

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