By Daniel I. Dorfman–
Major League Baseball has so many things working to its advantage including a century old resilience to overcome every challenge placed before it. Right now MLB’s powers-that resilience is being fortified by a strong emotion: apathy.
The Barry Bonds trial unfolding right now in San Francisco has reopened some of MLB’s ugly wounds. The Giambi brothers and Marvin Bernard testified yesterday how they received steroids from Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson. More players are expected to be questioned soon and yet there seems to be a feeling of “who cares” to the whole thing. I don’t even suspect the VERY up close and personal testimony from Bonds’ mistress on Monday garnered much water cooler conversation.
We should care about what is going on there. We are talking about both the all time single season and all time home run leader and how he made a mockery of the game. True, if there had ever been any warm feeling around Bonds more people would likely be following about the Bonds’ courtroom drama. What we have learned among other things is Bonds is a jerk. That is something about as shocking as Rahm Emanuel uses profanities. But since Bonds has always been thought of a creep, no one seems to think twice about it.
But the general apathy toward the steroid era stretches beyond Bonds. Look at Sammy Sosa. It was 19 years ago today the White Sox traded him to the Cubs for George Bell. But instead of Sosa being revered, he is now an embarrassment. The most powerful offensive force in Cub history is excommunicated from the team and it seems unlikely they will ever be a reunion.
Meanwhile in St. Louis, Mark McGwire enters his second year as hitting coach of the Cardinals. The questions about his steroid usage have stopped along with any hopes he will make the Hall of Fame. He’s moved on and we’ve moved on and yet it feels incomplete.
We’ll see what the reaction if Roger Clemens goes on trial as scheduled now for July for lying to Congress about his use of steroids and HGH in 2008. Yet I doubt it will be much different than what is going on with Bonds today. People don’t want to be bothered with steroid talk anymore and they want to enjoy the game.
Granted, people have a lot more important things to be worried about in these challenging times than if a baseball player gets a needle stuck in his body. But a nonchalant attitude is baseball’s best hope toward people forgetting what happened. Everyone including the press, baseball officials and to some extent the public was guilty for overlooking the obvious in the late 90s and early 2000s and that got us to where we are today with statistics that are as believable as $4 bills.
No doubt MLB has made strides in cleaning up the game but there are still steps that need to be taken. The testing has to advance so HGH can be detected as well as designer PEDs that escape the procedures now in place.
If this shameful period of baseball history just slip into the history books with a collective shrug of the shoulder s and pressure is not placed on the game’s authorities to make sure the game is not as clean as possible, than look one day for another scandal.
If that happens, the shame will extend not only to those on the field, but those in the stands as well.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.