As of this writing, Pedro Gomez is on ESPN quoting an unnamed Giant as calling Barry Bonds “the worst teammate I’ve ever had.” For “Love Me, Hate Me” author Jeff Pearlman, quizzed today by Deadspin’s Will Leitch, the rhetoric is considerably heavier. “Now that I’m beyond the promotional, 20-second soundbite push, I feel liberated to express my conclusion of the whole experience,” says Pearlman. “Barry Bonds is evil.”
Alongside Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, he is responsible for the illegal, unethical tattering of the most important page of the baseball record book. I grew up knowing what 755 meant. Hell, my mom–who knows nothing about sports–understands 755. I hate–absolutely, positively hate–that Barry Bonds is doing this. I’m mad if my 6-year-old nephew cheats in first grade. So for Bonds to come along and cheat to surpass Aaron–it’s criminal. I read writers like Bill Rhoden and Dave Zirin–guys I respect–and I just don’t understand what the hell they’re doing. They maintain there’s no proof that Bonds used, so how can we condemn him? If we used that mode of thinking in day-to-day life, there’d be no need for juries. You either catch a person in the act of committing a crime or he’s innocent. Factually–and I mean, 100% factually–Bonds used, and the evidence is overwhelming. Game of Shadows, my book, his ties to Greg Anderson and Victor Conte, the expansion (impossible, unless he used HGH or suffers from Acromegaly) of his skull, a former teammlate like Jay Canizaro telling me how Anderson said he can design a steroid cocktail for him that would be just like Barry’s, so on and so on. Every time someone writes that there’s no “proof,” he/she is gifting the designers of masking agents. If we reward and praise the cheaters in sports, what are we saying to the kids who follow the games? What are we saying about decency and integrity?
I don’t root against Bonds because he’s a bad man. I root against him because he’s a dishonest one. For me personally, this isn’t an issue of race or class or status. It’s an issue of someone taking the game I truly love and making a mockery of the whole thing.
Regardless of where Pearlman chooses to make such remarks, I’ve got nothing but respect for his work to date and do believe he is speaking truthfully when he claims there’s no racial bias at play here. And that’s why I am eagerly looking forward to Pearlman’s extensively researched books on the careers of Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. I can think of no writer better qualfied to tackle either subject, and I promise to do everything in my power not to skip to the end of either tome to find out how either icon measures up on Pearlman’s moral barometer.
Today was not the first time Pearlman has called Bonds “evil”. It’s not the first time I’ve suggested there are other players worthy of heavy scrutiny, either, but if a talented guy like Jeff can repeat himself, so can I.