Friday, April 15, 2011

Barry Bonds: Bonds Trial Is a Dark Cloud over Jackie Robinson Day

It's a contradictious day in the world of sports. Friday is the eighth annual Jackie Robinson Day throughout the Majors, marking the 64th anniversary of the day baseball's color barrier was broken. It's also the day after Barry Bonds went from home-run king to convicted felon.

This moment has become one of disconnect rather than one of synergy. How would Jackie Robinson, who fought for every hit in baseball and life, feel about the all-time leader of homeruns only being there because of Performance Enhancing Drugs?

Robinson played in a time when baseball was as magical as a David Copperfield illusion. A time when players had their vices off the field, but played like role models on it. The baseball diamond used to be a religious place where cheating and lying was left outside the stadium walls. A day that should be honored for how far baseball has come has been grabbed by the undertow of its own arrested maturation in its decadent time.

It wasn't just Bonds who betrayed the sanctity of the game, but many of this generations "greats" have been reduced from statuesque figures to diminutive at best. From Clemens, Sosa, Tejada, McGuire, Giambi, A-Rod, and recently Manny, the games most dominate players reached their pinnacle not from out-working others, but from out-juicing. We've witnessed "The Homerun Era", now known as the steroid one, as the games greatest sluggers have been reduced to nothing more than the greatest cheaters.

The trickle down affect is the scariest of all. The youth that look up to these iconic figures might not take steroids as a result, but might deem it okay to cheat in other aspects of life. Maybe it will be their driving tests, their SAT's, their taxes, or their spouses. Even if as Charles Barkley said almost two decades ago," I'm not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids." It would be nice if our sports stars could be models of mortality or an exemplary of ethicalness in their chosen profession.

For the most part, people can compartmentalize Brett Favre the Sexter from Brett Favre the quarterback, but it's when they blur the lines with infidelity to the game, when they cheat on the fans, that the line crosses.
In Bonds case (no pun-intended), what makes this sting the most is his place as the single-season homerun leader and all-time one. The exhilaration we felt as career homerun 756 blasted into the right-center field bleachers at A T&T Park has been replaced with anger and embarrassment at his recent disgrace.

Our faith was betrayed again when Manny Ramirez failed his second drug test, inheriting a 100-game suspension. This prompted Manny to be Manny, to not man up, and to abruptly and cowardly retire. Say what you want about Manny, from mental lapses in both the outfield and running the bases to missing the White House reception for the Red Sox 2007 World Series championship.
The one thing as fans we always thought we knew was his dedication and ego had no room for PED's. Like finding out the tooth fairy is really mom putting that five under the pillow, we were played like fools, again.

Today, players from Milwaukee to Anaheim will be wearing the #42 patch on their jerseys. With the current state of Major League Baseball, would Jackie Robinson even consider that an honor?

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