You can't touch this exchange of e-mails

April 23, 2006|By RICK MAESE

Dear MC Hammer:

The headlines and SportsCenter updates are getting tiresome. It's hard to remember a time when "Barry Bonds" and "steroids" weren't linked together. There are two new books. A weekly reality show. And a home run chase injecting intrigue into the 2006 season.

It's a perfectly scripted drama, with one exception: the main character. Bonds seems like a flawed hero.

Yet his fan base hasn't deserted him. Hammer, you're from the Bay Area; you've been around baseball since you were a kid (a batboy for the Athletics? Really?). I don't get how someone who respects this game can cheer Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's crown.

Do you believe Bonds is innocent of the allegations? Is it because he's been unfairly targeted? You've got to help me out here, Hammer, because I have a hard time mustering an ounce of sympathy for the slugger right now.

Still reeling from Raffy,

Rick

Rick:

I have been around professional baseball since 1971. Intimately involved in the day-to-day activities of the game and the players. I would be on the field and in the clubhouse for three hours, and in the press box with the writers for three hours.

I've known both sides for 30-plus years. My support of Barry Bonds has nothing to do with steroids (whether or not he took them), and everything to do with the reality of greenies and the failure of the media to admit and come to terms with the advantages and benefits of the drug (which includes, among other enhancements, better hand and eye coordination, according to reports).

Meaning, if we are not going to honor records because of drug use, are we going to be selective as to which drug? This is utter nonsense! Barry is being unfairly singled out. If you respond to my comments, your comments must include greenies, the use thereof in the game and its effects on the human nervous system (and what effect that would have on other records as a result), or we cannot have this debate.

I respect the game more than you will ever know. It's like a cheating wife that you stay with in spite of her affairs because you love her so much!

Hammer

Hammer:

The attention focused on the steroid controversy also has shined light on the use of greenies in major league clubhouses. These under-the-radar amphetamines have been used by big leaguers for years, but this is the first year Major League Baseball is testing for them. Is Barry being singled out because he's accused of doing one drug and dozens of others opted for another?

I can't defend greenie use, but using it to absolve Bonds of wrongdoing strikes me as a smoke-and-mirrors way of saying, "Nothing to see here." You know who's responsible for Bonds being singled out? Not the media. Not federal investigators. And not Major League Baseball. It's Bonds.

The only reason we point a finger at Bonds is because he's the one who allowed a mountain of evidence to pile up against him. Sure, we think others did steroids and we think even more used greenies, but cases are built based on evidence. (At least they should be.)

Bonds isn't a defendant in this court of public opinion because he's a jerk, because he's black or because the media hate him. It's because he's the best hitter many of us will live to see and because there's evidence that casts doubt on his accomplishments.

If evidence surfaces that other probable Hall of Famers have greenies to thank for their success - and if experts would dare say greenies can affect performance as much as steroids - you bet it'll receive scrutiny.

Enjoying the season,

Rick

Rick:

You can't trivialize greenies! Many players say they would need more days off if they can't "bean up" (take greenies).

The question is, how many home runs did you hit, how many bases did you steal, how many games did you pitch and win on the days that you took the energy-enhancing greenies that gave you the boost you needed to perform at a high level?

Absolve Barry? This is not about absolving. Barry passed his test! If later he is found guilty of using steroids and his records are given an asterisk, it will still be a total farce.

It comes down to fairness. All drugs that help your performance should be viewed in the same light. Yes, Barry has his haters, in the press and in the court of public opinion. Some may have valid reasons and others out of envy of his skills and riches.

Our society is at a point where we love to take down heroes that we have built up. It's unfortunate. No one is immune. It's not just race. It speaks to the frustration of a confused and hopeless society. Politics, the war on terror, unemployment, medical, divorce and broken homes.

There are a lot of former great athletes looking at this whole charade and saying, when did we stop taking performance-enhancing drugs?

But Barry Bonds, well, he makes too much money. No sympathy for a rich man.

Hammer

Hammer:

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