Jeff Pearlman

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Holier than thou bullshit

love-me-hate-me

Haven’t been able to update the past few days, because the family and I are on vacation way up north in Long Lake, N.Y.

But I will, quickly, address one thing: The holier-than-thou-bullshit charges many fired after my latest Bonds post.

Believe me, I understand the sentiment. I really do. What I don’t understand, however, is this continued acceptance of cheating. Someone mentioned that I clearly have a vandetta against Barry Bonds. Sooooo not true: I have a vandetta against the steroid era; about ballplayers who cheated, knowingly, to enhance their careers.

I’ve written this before, but it holds true: I consider Sal Fasano, the longtime journeyman catcher, to be a good friend. I believe him, 100 percent, when he says he never used PED. Right now, at age 37, Sal is slumming in Triple A with 19-, 20-, 21-year-old kids, stopping off at Pizza Hut or Burger King en route to some half-filled stadium. While he loves the game, that’s not his motivation. His motivation is to provide for him family, to reach his maximum pension and to continue to receive the health care professional baseball offers, which affords him the best care for his ill son.

If Sal never used, and others catches have (which we know to be true: Zaun, LoDuca, Pratt, etc …), it is more than a mere “part of the game.” It’s semi-criminal: Using an illegal drug to boost your own status at the expense of another.

I just don’t understand the thinking here. Yeah, guys took shortcuts in the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s. But this is the era I’ve covered, and a longstanding pattern of cheating doesn’t make it right.

Yeah, maybe I am holier than thou. But the phrasing itself sort of implies that I’ve decided to take similarly evil steps in my own life, and now I’m condeming others. Not true: I don’t plagerize. I don’t ask better writers to do my work. I don’t swap bylines with Buster Olney or Jonathan Eig. I try my best, and if my best isn’t good enough, I accept it and either try harder, or move on.

Word.

PS: And as for the Rocker comment (see comments), John knew the entire time that we were doing an interview. He told me things off the record that I never used, thus implying that he was aware everything else was on the record.

  • I don’t think it’s so much an acceptance of cheating Jeff, I think many of us are finally accepting the fact that 80% of players used PED’s at some point in there careers and we can’t pick and choose who does and doesn’t get in based on how we feel about them.

    I’m not going to lie, I hate Bonds, but I love Manny, if I need to accept Bonds to have Manny in the HoF, so be it.

    Steroids and PED’s don’t make you hit a ball, they make you hit it further, you can’t tell me that 700 of Bonds’ home runs were 385 footers. It kills me to say it, but I think we need to just understand that it was the steroid era, no asterisks and no labels, but we all know that was the era those players were a part of once the reach the HoF.

  • Drew

    I’ve got to be really honest – it’s depressing that we live in a society where calling cheating wrong is considered ‘holier than thou.’

    I don’t care what moral stance you take; there are some standards which are universal, and a person who’s willing to stand up for those should be applauded, not attacked.

    Of course, I’m a Christian minister – so I’m a closed minded, gay hating, backwards thinking, ignorant hypocrite, right?

  • Yes, PED’s dont make you hit the ball but as a player; when you’re in your later late 30’s/early 40’s and chasing records and somehow are still bashing homeruns at a crazy rate, then yes, PED’s come into play.

  • jweb271

    I lived in Texas through most of the Palmeiro era. As his career was winding down and he was beginning to amass insanely good career stats I began to wonder–not about steroids, I was naive still–but how this guy who was never even the best or top three probably at his position, a guy I watched all the time and never considered much more than a good baseball player, was suddenly one of “the greats.”

    It didn’t add up to me, that a player who seemed just, well, good, could manage to have numbers better than so many who seemed great. Of course, we all found out why soon enough, but this is another thing I take away from the era, the elevation of mediocre or good players is so apparent in hindsight that the steroid problem makes complete sense. What I mean is that, in my mind, did I ever think I was watching a Hall of Famer in Raffy before the sudden accumulation of lifetime numbers? No.

    Bonds was better. Would he have ended up with Hall numbers? Hard to say. Maybe. But if we put in Bonds, don’t we have to put in Raffy? And, my god, Sosa? That’s pretty damn ugly in my opinion. That’s horrible. Isn’t it easier in the end to keep them all out?

    Anyway, so much of this debate surrounds loopholes about what was and wasn’t technically legal, but to me, they all knew they were doing something wrong. They all hid it, lied about it, conspired to get away with it. They knew. And they were terrified of getting caught because they knew there would be serious ramifications such as this, but they sure enjoyed the big money and numbers in the meantime. They benefited. They’re rich. We shouldn’t feel sorry for them.

    And for the record, Selig and Fehr shouldn’t get in over this either.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life