Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

Baseball Should Turn its Back on Bonds

Major league baseball's spring training is underway. Once again, the cloud of steroids is hanging over the sport. Especially after new allegations that San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds deliberately used them for five seasons. Commentator Frank Deford takes a tough line on Bonds.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And more stories in the Youth Radio series can be found at NPR.org. Little League may be under way, but major league baseball still has nearly three weeks to go until its regular season. Once again the cloud of steroids is hanging over the sport, especially after new allegations that San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds deliberately used them for five seasons. Commentator Frank Deford has little sympathy for Bonds.

FRANK DEFORD reporting:

The best thing that Barry Bonds has going for him is the Hall of Fame. Yes! That's because as long as everybody endlessly agonizes about whether he should be elected to Cooperstown sometime years in the future, then less critical vigilance will be applied to him now.

Look, the Hall of Fame is a wonderful honor but it's still only just moonlight and roses. The National League of this moment, 2006, is substantive--what matters now. So, Cooperstown only serves as a convenient diversion for our charming Barry.

The second best thing Bonds has going for him is his home run totals. Nobody is happy that he holds the single season record. Nobody is happy with the prospect that he might eclipse Henry Aaron's career total, but there is no sense fretting on and on about it. What's done cannot be undone. So, rather than looking wistfully ahead to a distant future, or wallowing back in the past, let us put aside wistful wallowings and concentrate on the here and now.

The idea is for all good people to try to get Barry Bonds out of baseball. Of course, baseball itself should immediately, pronto, toot sweet, start an investigation into his entire history of drug use which has been documented so thoroughly by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams in their extraordinary book Game of Shadows. Some bleeding hearts say, oh my, so many players took steroids. It isn't fair just to single out Bonds.

Oh, please! In a crime wave you go after whatever criminals you can get in your sights. Same with a cheating wave. Investigate Bonds. Turn up the heat on him. If you're a baseball fan, boo his every move. If you're a San Francisco Giant fan, take a shower and stop making excuses for Bonds. The press should badger him every day. Surly and disingenuous as he is, try and make him accountable.

ESPN should drop a sweetheart reality show that it has given Bonds money to star in. That's disgraceful of the network, especially since it compromises its honest journalists. The player's association should not knee-jerk-come to Bonds' defense. It is no union's responsibility to unequivocally support every member's presumed grievance.

And forthwith and foremost, Commissioner Bud Selig should announce today that if and when Bonds passes Babe Ruth's old record of 714 home runs and Aaron's 755, baseball will offer no congratulations, participate in no ceremony. If the Giant franchise had any honor, it would do the same.

We were all--the Commissioner, the union, the honest players, the media, the fans, the Giants, all of us, complicit in letting the steroid era run rampant. All of the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten that time. Maybe even in the face of overwhelming evidence, we cannot even convict Bonds of anything, but we can do our best to reject him and say you're a stain on the game Barry Bonds. Go away and leave baseball alone. Out, damn spot, out, I say.

MONTAGNE: The comments of Frank Deford, senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford