We can argue that substance abuse (or use of substances) has always dominated the game. Babe Ruth drank gallons of beer (and anything else in liquid form); many others were right up there with him. We have heard stories of pitchers throwing no-hitters while they were on acid or smoking pot, and tobacco in all its forms has always haunted MLB. Many of the members of the Hall of Fame were no doubt addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and who knows what else.
So the inconvenient truth here—besides the fact that Bonds has yet to be proven guilty of anything—is that if MLB is not on trial, how fair is this whole thing and what is the point? Why single out Bonds (or Roger Clemens later this year)? They have records in the books alongside other guys who may or may not have enhanced themselves too. Another truth is we will never be completely sure whose records are tarnished and whose are not. At this point no one is going to do anything about it either.
The people are the ones who pay to see games, who buy the merchandise, and keep this game (and all sports) successful. It has been more than obvious that fans do not care about the juice that players used; they care more about the effects of that substance. Baseball fans have a love affair with the game, but most especially with the home run. The homer is the Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise of baseball. It's the white knight. People don't go to see no hitters; they want a home run derby. That's why that homer contest the night before the All Star game is actually bigger than the game that follows it.
By no means am I advocating substance use or abuse. I wish players only used their natural talent and skills on the field, but I also wish all politicians could be trusted. Probably not something to expect in my lifetime or yours. In the meantime, Barry Bonds is on trial for perjury, but if he is guilty so is MLB, the owners, and fans of the game, and that is an inconvenient truth that no one wants to handle.
Photo Credit: AP