This entry was posted on Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at 9:05 pm and is filed under Baseball. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are several phrases that we as Americans tend to toss around with reckless abandon, using them as blanket defenses against tough questions and even tougher answers. “Innocent until proven guilty” is one such phrase – a sentiment embedded in the country’s vernacular that, shockingly, doesn’t solve all our problems. It’s this phrase that Commissioner Bud Selig invoked in his recent statements concerning Barry Bond‘s pursuit of Hank Aaron‘s career home run record, hiding behind the words rather than voicing an opinion that is etched across his grimace at each crack of the slugger’s bat. It’s a sentiment that many have expressed, embracing the warm comfort of a nation’s mantra rather than facing the reality of a situation wherein the most sacred record in sports has been broken by a known cheater.

I say “known” because I prefer to keep my head well above the stifling blindness of the sand. I understand that while this country was founded on certain principles, they were written down by men of reason, and therefore were not meant to be read and interpreted without the influence of our own reason. For surely every murderer caught red-handed is not innocent in the eyes of his captors until a court of law vouches for his guilt. Clearly the public did not presume the innocence of a man like O.J. Simpson given the furor that erupted in the wake of his acquittal.

I don’t mean to compare Barry Bonds to the likes of murderers and thieves. I mean only to explain that the concept of innocence without legally-binding guilt is not one that I can embrace. Why should any one forestall their own verdict in the absence of that of a jury? Aren’t juries, after all, compiled of people like you and I? People that are asked for their opinion, and asked to make a decision. If we were in the shoes of that jury, we couldn’t very well say, “I’m sorry, Your Honor, I can’t condemn this man. He’s innocent until proven guilty.”

In short, I, like many fans, believe Barry Bonds cheated baseball, using anabolic steroids to promote unnatural protein synthesis, increasing his muscle mass while reducing the effects of wear, tear, and perhaps most importantly, fatigue on a 40-year-old’s body. I believe that perhaps as many as 50% of all major league ball players were using in the mid-to-late 90s, that Roger Maris remains the single-season home run king, and that many of the heros of my youth may one day be tainted by the same spectre that now hangs over McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. So be it. It is too late to change history and restore the record books, but it is not too late to proceed forward with open eyes. I, for one, choose not to perpetuate the cycle by continuing to ignore something that’s staring me, mockingly, in the face.

If the glove fits, Barry.

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