On Berating Bonds
The day suicide lines lit up like a scoreboard
White people LOVE to hate Barry Bonds. I’ve noticed this with increasing curiosity over the last three years or so. There appears to be something affirming in it for them. Don’t get me wrong. There are black people who dislike him also. But for whites, Bonds seems to illicit an animosity that borders on fanaticism. Contrary to what you may believe, this hatred has little to do with the steroid cloud under which Bonds has played for the last few years. Indeed, many whites’ obsessive contempt for Bonds began long before the “clear and the cream” infamously entered the baseball vernacular. The steroids accusations just seem to have given white folks a cause around which to rally. Undoubtedly much of the hostility toward Barry Bonds is rooted, to one degree or another, in the following things:
One is that Bonds has, for many years, maintained an uncanny ability to keep white folks – fans and media – at a distance. He doesn’t appear to need them, or court their praise one way or another. At times, he comes across as surly and recalcitrant. In a post Michael Jordan era, when successful athletes are encouraged to be all things to all people, Bonds, apparently, just wants to be left alone. Only recently, with his ESPN reality show, Bonds on Bonds, has he made himself accessible to the media. To most, the fact that Bobby Bonds, Barry’s father, had a tumultuous relationship with the media in his playing days, and that this soured Barry on the media early on, can’t or won’t register.
Another reason is that Bonds seems completely indifferent to the steroids accusations. The more the media focuses on Bonds’ alleged steroid use, the more apt he seems to be to shrug his shoulders and imply that, at least for him, it’s a non-issue. Media types want to see Bonds at least pretend to be apologetic and contrite, one game that Bonds doesn’t play well.
Also, Bonds has made statements that have further alienated him from the baseball “purists.” He’s spoken dismissively (oh my!) of baseball god, Babe Ruth. Tellingly, those who want an asterisk to be placed beside Bonds’ name don’t feel it necessary to have one placed beside Ruth’s – who completed his assault on the record books without ANY blacks or Latinos to impede him.
To add fuel to the fire, a couple of years back, he correctly identified the city of
Despite all this, I’m still left wondering if some of the animosity towards him can be traced to his blackness. Would Mark McGwire, for instance, if he shared Bonds’ personality, be the object of such universal hatred? I can’t imagine that he would. As I’ve suggested, Bonds won’t win any congeniality contests any time soon but he’s certainly no Ty Cobb, who was, by all reports, the dirtiest, SOB to ever play the game.
So now that the 2006 baseball season is well underway, the venomous jeers and hisses have become cacophonous. Fans (again, OVERWHELMINGLY white) somehow seek to restore the dignity of the game by tearing him down. Dads bring their kids to the park so that they can shout, “Cheater,” and throw inflatable syringes at him. Reporters keep seeking to corner him into contrition. And his recent stumble out of the gate has solidified his guilty status in the minds of his detractors.
Frankly, the carnival of Bonds-haters has made me begin to root for him. The resolve with which his enemies seek to ruin him has convinced me that it ain’t just about the ‘roids. So, hopefully, as white folks keep on hating Bonds, he’ll keep on hitting them out of the park. If only to spite them.