Friday, January 12, 2007

And so it seems that Barry Bonds has tested positive for a banned substance.

Spoiler alert: There will be no links for the Barry Bonds section. Every single person in America has said more or less the same thing about him, so all you have to do is sit still for five seconds and a story or two or ten will find you. Yes, it's not really a spoiler alert, but I didn't want to postscript it either.

The only surprise is that he allegedly tested positive for amphetamines and not steroids. The real tragedy here isn't that he'll break Hank Aaron's record while looking like a total fraud. The real tragedy is that he has given the media one more chance to react like the Claude Rains character from Casablanca during the famous scene where, in his capacity as prefect of police, he shuts down Rick's for gambling an instant before the croupier hands him his winnings.

99.9% of Americans believe Barry cheated, but what can you do? Unlike everybody else who has taken an image hit in the fallout from the Grand Steroid Conspiracy, Barry Bonds was always a dick. I'm sorry about violating the policy against obscenity I've had since jump street (but on the plus side I got to use jump street, I've been trying to work that in for a while now), but even in my vast vocabulary of insult and invective, there is no other word that can encapsulate my distaste as brutally and succinctly.

This is a guy who went to a judge and asked for a reduction in his child support payments during the player's strike of 1994. I imagine he was paying a monstrous sum, and maybe it was hard for him to cover it with his other expenses. That's life. Many other people have to deal with the same type of problem, but they might not have the luxury of economizing the way a very wealthy man who plays a professional sport can. Maybe he could have gone without creatine for a month or two, until he got back on his feet. Better that than going into court with his hat in his hand to cry poor mouth.

I must say I enjoy his explanation of past conduct. Poor Barry did not know that the substance he thought to be flax seed oil was a banned performance enhancer. Amazing. I should go out and do something illegal and plead ignorance. I wonder how far that would get me. "Sorry, officer. I didn't know it was illegal to jump a stolen car into a school like I was driving the General Lee on the Dukes of Hazzard." I think if I did that, I'll probably do a fair bit of time in a government facility, even if I said I didn't know it was illegal. But Barry Bonds can't be constrained by mortal bonds like laws and rules.

Then there are those who loathe Barry less than I, who rationalized his conduct by saying: "He saw what cheating did for McGwire and Sosa. Of course he was going to do the same thing." Is that so? What if he saw McGwire jump off a bridge? Should Barry do that too? Obviously, it's too much to ask for a person with wealth and fame to be held responsible for their actions.

I have oversimplified things to this point. I don't think athletes should be treated like Caesar's wife, and be expected to be above reproach in all matters. I have defended Terrell Owens in this space, and will continue to do so, even though he proves himself unworthy of it from time to time. But a smart athlete tries to stay as squeaky clean as possible. Look at D Wade or Lebron or Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. They make millions of dollars in endorsements because they make it very hard for people to hate them (I do not hate Wade or King James, but I have the strength to hate Brady and Manning). Imagine how much more money Barry could have made if he'd stayed off the roids and been a nicer guy.

Of course every reporter and his brother were scandalized by Barry's claim that he took the pills from a teammate's locker. I wasn't surprised. He is, as I said, a dick. That is what dicks do. The better question is what manner of man goes into another person's stuff and starts taking his pills? Is Barry psychologically compelled to just grab bottles of pills and start cannonballing them? Does it justify taking a banned substance to say that they belonged to some other person? What a world.

But enough about Bonds. The NFL playoffs are in full swing. And even though I got to thinking that it was time to lay off the Sports Guy for a while, he just keeps right on being a tool. He has presented the Little Big Horn award to Herman Edwards for steadfastly running LJ into 8 man fronts. I must confess that I am no fan of Herman Edwards as a game coach, but he has one thing going for him that Bill Simmons doesn't. Herman played the game.

As Bill Simmons astutely notes, an eight man front means one-on-one coverage on the outside receivers. With the vast experience gleaned from years of playing Madden football on various video game consoles, Simmons thinks that it would have made sense to throw the ball to wide receivers covered by one man rather than run the ball into the teeth of a defense expecting the run. It does seem logical. Then again, on paper the Spanish Armada wins any day of the week (but not twice on Sunday). That's the problem with things that seem logical on paper, in the real world strange things can happen.

For instance, you could be playing a team with defensive ends who are considerably quicker than any of your blockers, even if you chipped with a back or max-protected (I'm not sure about the hyphen, but I think it looks better) with two tight ends. Your options at quarterback could be a very shaky Trent Green, Damon Huard who showed some potential but not enough to inspire confidence and untested rookie Brody Croyle. Your wide receivers could be past their what can only charitably called primes making one-on-one coverage a situation where you are vastly outnumbered by an Indianapolis defensive back from a very average secondary. Do you still want to pass?

Maybe Arizona could hire Simmons as their coach. Why not? No matter whom they hire to replace Dennis Green, that organization is almost assuredly about to squander the incredible potential of Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Matt Leinart. The least team management can do is to give the rest of the country a few laughs in the process.

Hell, I'm available. As a former second string high school lineman, I have no illusions of being able to command a team's respect. Nor do I have a wealth of practical knowledge, or relevant experience for that matter. But I guarantee my press conferences will be entertaining and memorable, more in the manner Ozzie Guillen or Parcells in the day. If there is a "They are what we thought they were" moment, it won't be so repetitive, even if it is as incoherent. I'll work for short money, too. I figure $1,000,000 is reasonable for a guy like me, so I want $2,000,000. And a decent severance package. Bill Bidwell, think about it.

To the Sports Guy's credit, I do agree with him 100% about Dante Hall, which is why I left the ex X factor's name out of the attack on KC's wideouts and decided to work that joke in here. But he has to give his man crush on Cris Collinsworth a rest. Collinsworth sucks as an announcer. He sucked as a pregame show talking head. He probably sucks at life in general. And on top of that, he called the game in Chicago on New Year's Eve dressed like he was auditioning for the Rex Harrison role in a remake of the Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I understand that if you held a gun to Simmons' head and asked him to admit honestly what athlete of the last 50 years he most resembled, he'd answer Collinsworth, but enough already.

It's time to wrap this up. So, in case you are wondering, if you held a gun to my head and asked me that same question. The answer is Art Donovan. I refuse to provide a link here. It's a damn shame, but he is quite simply the best professional football player to emerge from the fraudquarium that is Boston College ever. Period. End of list. Including Flutie, who won the Heisman, and the other Flutie and Hasselbeck, and the other Hasselbeck.

It's not my fault you (rhetorical, not specific to the unfortunate few who read this space) don't know NFL history. And it's a damn shame that a player that talented and a man that eloquent had to emerge from an institution I loathe, but that's life in the big city.

By the way, I only recently (as in the last week or so) realized how much I sound like O'Neil from Platoon's character from Scrubs. I did not watch the show until I read the interview he did for a recent American Airlines in flight magazine (no link, do your own leg work here, I will never link to an in flight magazine site). I will not give the character's name. I just started watching Scrubs, and I am still coming to terms with that fact.

I hate Zach Braff, and the character O'Neil from Platoon calls Barbie. But I like the janitor and the unpleasant old doctor. So I have a lot to try to understand as I go forward and watch the show. But I'm late for drinking time now.

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