Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bonds on Bonds? Classy

ESPN's turned into a monster. I didn't have a problem when they fired up a 73rd channel and I don't mind in depth coverage of the Junior World Curling Championships. Sports are great and frankly I find myself wanting more after five months of college basketball. Really. The Poker Championships are essential to my well-being and ESPN radio is the highlight of my day.

But this Barry Bonds quasi-reality show is going too far. I know ESPN's got to make money and Barry Bonds is the biggest draw in sport right now. Besides being at the center of a steroid scandal, he is on the verge of breaking long standing home run records. Somebody's going to do the show, so why not ESPN?

Well maybe because Bonds represents everything bad about sports. Even if you take away the steroids, he is a brooding, selfish, egocentric jerk. He's alienated teammates, fans and the press. He's not just bad for baseball, he's bad for sports in general. he might even be bad for America, bit I think that's a probable overstatement. If ESPN is going to offer Barry an soapbox to air his own personal pity party, they should follow up with an intensive investigation into the dark side of Bonds.

I don't buy the whining coming from ESPN reporters who see a conflict of interest. Let's be honest about journalism here and dispense with the pretense that the people who cover sports are really journalists. Sports is where the lines between news and entertainment have always been blurred and on the rare occasions sport writers have been asked to deal with real news, they've balked.

One only need look at the OJ Simpson case to appreciate how inept sports writers are when real news comes calling. Another fine example is how sports writers reacted when Congress started asking questions about steroids. Suddenly, sports writers weren't having fun anymore. The reason is because with real news comes real accountability. The job gets hard when libel becomes a reality.

There are some sports writers who actually take the time to do their jobs with journalistic integrity, but most get caught up into the hyperbole of sports and they lose their way. Most end up spouting their opinions rather than fact. They get nationally syndicated radio shows and preach from their ivory towers. So let's stop with this talk of the true nature of journalism and the conflict of interest that might exist if ESPN is paying Barry Bonds for his reality show.

Nevertheless, I think this is a lousy decision by ESPN. Not because they specialize in sports news, but because ESPN should have a vested interest in promoting the right things about sports. ESPN should avoid those issues that can tear sports apart. Barry Bonds has been subjecting the public to his own version of reality for 20 years. We don't need more BS from Barry.

In the first installment of the show Barry broke down and cried about how he doesn't care about the negativity because people have been trying to hurt him and his family all along. BULL! Barry has hurt himself. Barry has hurt his family. It wasn't the media who cheated on your wife, you did, Barry. The press didn't stick steroid needles in your butt, you did. Nobody asked you to hide behind your son at a press conference when your name came up in the BALCO case, you did that on your own.

Barry's whole tumultuous relationship with the press comes from his massive ego. His dad was a famous player who made lots of money so Barry got treated differently all his life. He entered the league with a massive chip on his shoulder and it grew almost as rapidly as that swollen head bobbling around on what used to be a neck. Steroids.

ESPN should have put the screws to Barry on this one. If Barry wants his show to air, then he should answer some direct questions about his steroid use. He talks about how he loves baseball, but yet he is the one who is tearing it apart with his illegal use of performance enhancing drugs. Does he love baseball or is it more likely that he loves himself?

History proves that Barry loves Barry. How many titles has Barry won? Zero. Is that his fault? Absolutely. Barry's the one who has a history of lackluster late season performances and he is the one who ran off the talented players who could have helped him win a title in recent years. Even though former teammates have been reluctant to tear into Barry, the fact that few of his former mates speak highly of him is telling. If you can't say something nice...Barry is a jerk on and off the field.

There's no question he is talented. Even without steroids, Barry was on track with greatness. Unfortunately he let his ego get between him and the game. He didn't want to miss out on setting records so he got on the juice. That's the reality ESPN should be reporting, not some fantasy world where Bond's is a misunderstood hero with a sensitive side.

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