Friday, September 05, 2008

Another Barry Bonds hater repents

This time it's Buzz Bissinger, who wrote "Friday Night Lights" and "Shattered Glass." In a "Sympathy for the Slugger" column for the NY Times (registration required), he says the federal government is squandering its resources in pressuring Greg Anderson's wife and mother in law. He also believes the collusion allegations.

Bissinger starts by saying "I don't like Barry Bonds" and talking about how he didn't want Barry to break Aaron's record. Then he says something's different now -- But last week’s news trickling out of the endless investigation of Barry Bonds has caused me to feel something for him I never thought possible: sympathy. And beyond just sympathy, outrage over what has turned from a prosecution into a venomous persecution of someone who, no offense to the pastime purists, is just a baseball player. And I am beginning to think that federal authorities in charge of the pending criminal case against him for perjury have exactly the same attitude many sports fans do — we don’t like Barry Bonds, and since we don’t like him, let’s teach him a lesson he won’t forget. Let’s ruin him, which the federal government is fond of doing in all too many instances.

Here are a few other nuggets. Boldface is mind --

-- Threatening family members is conduct worthy of the mafia, not the federal government, particularly in a case that is ultimately inconsequential beyond sensational headlines and another round of “I Hate Barry” frenzy. Protecting the sanctity of baseball? Protecting the sanctity of sports? It’s way too late for any of that self-righteous nonsense in SportsWorld. What Anderson has been forced to go through already, spending more than a year in prison on contempt charges for refusing to testify about Bonds before a grand jury, is sickening in its mercilessness. Once again, this is not some case involving a drug kingpin smuggling thousands of kilos of cocaine into the country. This is a case hovering around performance enhancers, which dozens if not hundreds of baseball players used.

-- He was hailed as maybe the greatest player ever in the history of the game, until he became the pariah that he is today. In fact, more than just pariah: it seems pretty clear that he has been blackballed by the league this year despite statistics last season that included 28 home runs, 132 walks and an on-base percentage of .480 in only 340 at-bats. In the stretch-run for the playoffs, there isn’t a team that can use him? Of course there is, but his conspicuous absence smacks of collusion by team owners regardless of denials by Commissioner Selig. The players’ union smells stink, and so do I.

-- Obviously, the government’s case against Bonds is weak, or it wouldn’t be embarking on the witch hunt of doing everything possible to squeeze Anderson to testify. But enough is enough. Leave Anderson alone. Leave Bonds alone. Let them deal privately with what they did or did not do. If the Feds want to earn our taxpayer dollars, they can send a SWAT team to my hometown of Philadelphia to reduce the homicide rate that is turning swaths of the inner city into another Baghdad. In the hierarchy of issues that are important in this country, steroid use in baseball has become a bottom feeder. And prosecuting someone because you don’t like him isn’t justice but the complete miscarriage of it.


Blogger M.C. O'Connor said...

Wow. Great post, Big D, I had not seen this piece. The fact that it is Buzz "I hate bloggers" Bissinger is amazing.

12:56 PM  

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