I’m tired of this crap.
I have kept myself out of the national firestorm that has been the steroids ‘discussion,’ because it’s been anything but. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the media is going to sensationalize rumors and suggestions, and turn lies and assumptions into generally accepted facts. I’ve ignored the transformation of much of America’s sports media into a paparazzi-like organization that might, at any moment, move with equal zeal into such similarly important questions like whether or not various female athletes have implants, and if so, did they get them from whatever doctor did Britney’s.
Today that changes. Today, I was attacked. I was attacked by Dan Wetzel.
Who is Dan Wetzel, you ask? Dan Wetzel is a writer for Yahoo Sports. In an article you can read here, he attacked me, and all Giants fans, for welcoming Barry Bonds back.
This issue has moved into the surreal. This man has challenged every Giants fan’s worth as a baseball fan. Not that one should expect anything else from someone who uses name-calling, such as “Bumpkin” and “Balco Barry.”
Well you know what? I confess. Yes. Yes, I did it.
I cheered Barry. And I’ll keep doing it. And to top it off, I’m sick of all these whining, immature so-called journalists who spread lies and target very specific people.
This isn’t about Dan Wetzel not liking Barry Bonds. I don’t care, he’s got that right. Heck, I probably wouldn’t like Bonds if I ever met him. Dan Wetzel, and everyone else, has the right to hate Bonds. That’s not at issue.
But first, let’s separate a couple of facts from the misinformed lies.
• Barry has not admitted to using steroids, knowingly or unknowingly. According to the illegally leaked grand jury testimony, he was given and used items that he was told were arthritic cream and flaxseed oil, that resemble the now popular ‘Cream’ and ‘Clear,’ that could just have easily been Neosporin and Snake Oil for all we know. Any comments that he has admitted to using steroids, or any statement that he without a doubt has, are in fact assumption, accusation, and very much either libel or slander (depending on if it’s written or spoken).
• Being on the disabled list does not exempt anyone from being tested. Barry has already been tested at least once, in May. While there has been no official report on if he tested clean, he has not been suspended, so it’s more than fair to say tested clean. I guess this sort of thing isn’t worth a news report.
Despite these facts, lies are still published, including the former very specifically by Dan Wetzel, constantly. Why?
The fact that there is a grand jury testimony report to be misquoted at all is a crime in itself, a crime that seems to be commonplace when involving athletes on trial. And, of course, neither of the above referenced events ever saw a trial, quite very possibly BECAUSE of these leaks that would taint any jury pool beyond use, and turn such a trial into an appeal lawyer’s career case.
Where’s the moral outrage at this violation of our legal system? (Moral Outrage columns by Dan Wetzel on this topic: 0).
Instead, Dan Wetzel attacks San Francisco fans of, amongst other things, not being real baseball fans and being “Imbeciles” and “Naive Bumpkins.”
Naivety isn’t believing a man who has never tested positive for steroids, who has denied taking steroids. Naivety could be believing the accusers whose best evidence to the contrary is illegally leaked testimony and when asked for evidence of supposed hat size increases provide nothing more than old photos and pointing at them.
But Naivety definitely is ignoring the repeated reports that steroid use in baseball has been prevalent since the 1960’s, and not being as outraged when some of the most beloved teams of the 1970’s are described as having “popularizing” the use of them in.
America isn’t ready to hear the whole and complete truth. America isn’t ready to hear that performance-enhancing drugs have been around for decades, since the days of Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Reggie Jackson. And they aren’t ready to hear who in those days also tried or used steroids or other questionable items to gain an edge. Because if that truth came out, everyone’s heroes and their achievements, from every era, would be ‘tainted.’
Instead we have people like Dan Wetzel, who feels free to slander Bonds, Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro (who has, indeed, tested positive), but feels no need to do the same any other steroid users who have actually tested positive for steroid use or admitted to having used them in pursuit of championships. (Moral Outrage columns by Dan Wetzel about steroids for people not named Bonds, Giambi or Palmeiro: 0; Columns by Dan Wetzel praising admitted steroid users: 1; Columns by Dan Wetzel praising suspected steroid users: 1)
Dan Wetzel even manages to actually accuse Jason Giambi of doing steroids again. Perhaps Jason Giambi should sue Dan Wetzel for slander, as Dan Wetzel has praised Bo Jackson for suing the media after accusations of steroid usage. (Moral Outrage columns by Dan Wetzel on Frivolous Lawsuits: 0)
What is missing from the flurry of accusations and moral outrage is the acknowledgment of the people who are testing positive. The vast majority of players who have tested positive are borderline major leaguers whose names most people can’t remember off the top of their heads like Alex Sanchez. This should be a hint as to what steroids can and can't do, and an indication of who is really doing the lying and subterfuge in this witch-hunt. They don’t turn you into a Roger Maris overnight like magic, no matter what Dan Wetzel suggests. If steroids could make a guy hit nearly 30 more home runs in a season, then how come none of the major leaguers suspended for use so far outside of Palmeiro have ever hit more than 10 home runs? In their entire careers?
And, for the record, San Francisco fans booed Alex Sanchez. We booed him heavily. It didn't matter to us that he was wearing a Giants uniform.
And, of course, Dan Wetzel shows his moral priorities by brushing off “wife beaters, drug dealers, racists and murder defendants” by calling them “love-to-hate” types of people. Apparently, when players are accused of raping 19 year old girls, or even those that admit to crimes like non-steroid drug use or despicable acts like cheating on their pregnant wives, those things don’t necessitate columns. (Moral Outrage columns by Dan Wetzel condemning any of these things: 0)
But what’s most disgusting about this, the entire witch hunt and not just the unfortunate name-calling displayed by Dan Wetzel, is what a lost opportunity the steroid ‘firestorm’ was. This could have been an excellent chance to educate the world about steroids and their use by people. It could’ve been the time where journalists and lawmakers could’ve come together to make the country aware of steroids and make a real, legitimate effort to start ridding our athletic systems on all levels of the despicable things.
Instead, the ‘awareness’ raised by both the media and Congress on the subject is the equivalent of a drunk, shirtless fat guy at a game standing up and chanting “Steroid User!”
If sportswriters and lawmakers were truly serious about trying to eliminate drug use in the country, they could have told people about how many different kinds of steroids there are, and how they work and hurt their users. They could’ve brought full pressure on collegiate and high school athletic organizations to test for and punish steroid use. We could have the NCAA require that any athletic scholarship be dependant on a steroid test.
They might have even bothered to tell you that steroids won't help you hit more home runs, as even Hank Aaron has pointed out. But instead, they only furthered that myth by solely targeting sluggers with their moral outrage columns and requests to testify on CSPAN.
Any trained firefighter will tell you that the way to put out a fire is to aim at the base, where the fire starts, and not at the flashy tips of the flames. But instead, Congress and the media have solely focused on the tips of the flames, the major leaguers, and even then, only the biggest names in baseball.
Any serious effort to rid our athletics and our youth should include bringing to bear the strength of the law enforcement system on the producers of the drugs, the coaches and others who actually put the drugs into the hands of our young athletes. In addition, it should include the realization of the media that much of the pressure for young kids to get bigger and stronger to be able to succeed, in all sports, comes from them themselves (including Dan Wetzel).
And while the examples ‘set’ by major leaguers is an excellent point to be debated and the elimination of steroids from the majors a laudable goal, it should not be so overstated as to think that the sole reason that little Johnny started doing steroids is what Rafael Palmeiro did, or what Barry Bonds supposedly did, and had absolutely nothing to do with a coach saying “You need to gain 20 pounds of muscle or you’re off the team.”
But, alas, we are left with the witch-hunt, and now SF Giants fans are the latest targets in what more and more truly resembles the gossip and finger-pointing of vengeful little girls.
No, Dan Wetzel, we don’t all think as one. I know many Giants fans, some who believe Bonds took steroids, and some who don’t. And yes, it’s something we don’t particularly care to discuss, no matter our beliefs. Just like we don’t care to discuss how the game we love was once very racist, or how its championship was once decided by gamblers in a back room and not the players on the field. But we also give the game enough respect to not ridicule those who recognize that the tainted achievements of those that played in those periods were still achievements, and who want those who may or may not have tainted the game recognized, no matter what era they played in.
And we don't do it because we are 'forgiving' of 'imbeciles,' as if these people are some lower life form that must be tolerated. We do it because they are fans, too. They are just like us, except that they think differently. That's real baseball fans. We argue, we debate, and we have very different opinions. And it'd be damn boring if we didn't. We’re baseball fans, real ones, who are smart enough to love the game and accept the fact that bad things happened in it and will continue to.
And on that note, it’s time to realize what a ‘real’ fan is and isn’t. If being a fan means being a cranky, name calling pessimist who is only supposed to root for their team if they’re doing well, who gives up on a season in May, and make judgments on people based on crass assumptions, bad jokes, and inaccurate generalizations, then Dan Wetzel can have them. I’ll take my fellow San Francisco Giant fans at SBC Park, who fill the stands even as they lose, and I don’t give a flying fornication as to what they’re eating or drinking. And anyone who wants to tell us that we aren’t real baseball fans are welcome to come to SBC Park, particularly at this weekend’s Giants-Dodgers series, and tell us to our faces.
I am a San Francisco Giants fan. I am a baseball fan.
And I will cheer Barry Bonds again tomorrow.
Kevin J. Cunningham, SFDugout.com Co-Publisher and more importantly, San Francisco Giants fan
Sara Kwan, SFDugout.com Co-Publisher and more importantly, San Francisco Giants fan
Don Shin, SFDugout.com Staff Writer and more importantly, San Francisco Giants fan
Tim Denevi, SFDugout.com Staff Writer and more importantly, San Francisco Giants fan
Keith Larson, SFDugout.com Staff Writer and more importantly, San Francisco Giants fan
Chris Martinez, SFDugout.com Staff Writer and more importantly, San Francisco Giants fan
Jennifer Bregman, San Francisco Giants fan
Paul Bregman, San Francisco Giants fan
Patrick McKillop, San Francisco Giants fan
Shane McGee, San Francisco Giants fan
Patrick McKillop, San Francisco Giants fan
Steve Nicholas, San Francisco Giants fan
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