I have this picture in my mind of Barry Bonds frantically peddling a racing bike through the French Alps as he’s chased by pit bulls, all while an NBA referee uses his cellphone to check the scores before deciding whether to call traveling or not.
There are so many crash and burns going on in sports right now you’d have to be a NASCAR fan to keep track of them all. This year in the Tour De France the yellow jersey isn’t given to the leader, but to the guy who collects the urine samples.
At least there the teams have the decency to shove their disgraced cheaters over a cliff. In San Francisco Giants fans embrace Barry Bonds — or they would if they could get their arms around head, that is. I’ve had my differences with MLB Commissioner Selig over the years (though I thought his son-in-law was a real nice guy when he was with the Twins and I worked for the Sports Commission), but I give Bud credit for not wanting to be anywhere near the stadium when Bonds breaks the record.
The only reason I would go would be for the chance to catch the record-breaking ball — so I could call a press conference the next day, use a big ol’ hypodermic needle to inject the ball with gasoline and then set it on fire. (Sure, I’d miss out on a lot of money, but on the plus side I’d never have to buy myself a drink for the rest of my life). I know, you can’t “prove” that Bonds is a juicer (though his post-career endorsement options may be limited to Hamilton Beach and the Waring Company) but who are you going to believe — Barry, or your own lying eyes?
I remember 30-some years ago when Hank Aaron was closing in on Babe Ruth’s record and how much hate mail he received from folks who didn’t like the idea of a black man breaking the mark. Those fears seem even more ridiculous today when a cheater is about to do it.
As for Michael Vick, I have no doubt the Feds put a lot of heat on his lower-level associates in order to bag him and I think he’s (justifiably) in serious trouble and in for serious jail-time…unless he now becomes the key to blowing the whole dog-fighting sub-culture in professional sports wide open by naming names. Somehow I just don’t think he’s the only young athlete with a lot of time and money on his hands and a taste for violence and gambling. I remember an article in Sports Illustrated a couple of years ago that focused on how a number of NFL players loved raising pitbulls. It was all positive on how much they loved these dogs, but now you’ve got to wonder.
If there’s anyone who’s got to be sweating about tips of icebergs, however, it’s Daniel Stern and the NBA. In a game who’s rules have always seemed rather whimsically officiated, the reactions I’ve seen to the fact that a referee will be indicted for fixing games has been less, “You stink!” and more, “Ya think?” No worries, though, Mr. Stern; Pro Wrestling is still packing them in and they’ve got the trifecta: steroids, mad dogs and pre-determined outcomes!