Idol Chatter

BarryBondsIC070720.jpgBarry Bonds is busted. He’ll probably never own up to his guilt, and his lawyers might successfully get him off or significantly reduce whatever sentence he may receive. But he’ll always be an embarrassment to baseball, and he’ll forever evoke Sudden Onset Nausea for any baseball fan who has occasion to think of the man who cheated his way to baseball’s sexiest title, Home Run King.
Bonds is part of a motley crue of athletes busted recently for naughtily increasing their odds of winning in their respective sports. It seems every organized human athletic competition has seen a hero tarnished in recent months, including baseball, football, soccer, basketball, cycling, track and field–I’m pretty sure cricket and bass fishing fans are mourning their own fallen stars, too. As it turns out, cheaters prosper plenty, but we’re doing a pretty good job of nabbing them.

As New York Times scribe George Vescey points out today, Bonds could have done himself a huge favor by telling the truth in the first place, not least because his fans would have been quick to forgive him: “Americans love a good confession.” It’s true–actually, humans love a good confession, because we identify with bad behavior (we all have plenty of it) and feel solidarity with those who own up to it. (The runner Marion Jones has been vilified some for her own recent confession of cheating her way to Olympic gold, but, boy, she sure took long enough to come clean. And we’re sure to warm up to her again ’round about the time her book comes out.)
All this is mightily depressing for sports fans. It’s hard to find a sports champ who won’t break your heart these days. As a baseball nut devoted to the Boston Red Sox, I will rue the day we learn about anything improper that has boosted Boston’s winning ways these past few years. It’s bound to happen, no? It’s just part of the cycle of sports.
Which is why I am heartened, as much as a Yankee-hater can be, by the recent actions of one Alex Rodriguez. When A-Rod’s agent Scott Boras announced during Game 4 of the World Series that A-Rod would opt out of his current Yankee contract (a crappy thing to do in so many ways), and later revealed that A-Rod was seeking $350 million from the Yanks, it added fuel to my A-Rod vitriol. He’s a strutter, a preener, and an occasionally cheap player, whatever his virtuoso abilities, and I was glad that the press was piling on him for his apparently unquenchable greed.
But behind the scenes, A-Rod was reaching out to a friend, circumventing his agent (yay!) to tell the Yanks he had no desire to leave the team and was embarrassed by the ill-fated World Series announcement. Basically, he asked for his humble pie, and ate it. He’ll be a Yankee for years to come. If the Yanks pull off a World Series in the next decade, A-Rod’s actions in this past week will be a big reason why .
Better yet, this humble-pie eater has the best chance of knocking Barry Bonds down the list of all-time home run hitters. Barring injuries, he’ll do it, and he’ll do it in pinstripes because he listened to his conscience this fall. And when he does, the all-time home run leader won’t need an asterisk by his name. (Fingers crossed.) Some might scoff at reports that the Yankees offered A-Rod financial incentives for breaking the record, but hey, if A-Rod needs a boost, better it come through a bank account than a syringe.
So, I never thought I’d utter these words, but: Go A-Rod! Chase that record, and help us forget this whole sorry Barry affair.

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