Today was the opening day of a new season of Major League Baseball. And you know what that means: the Commander-in-Chief gets to throw out yet another ceremonial first pitch. Bush got a standing ovation in Cincinatti, Ohio when he came out to the mound to do just that in the Reds' home ballpark today. A standing ovation. Nationally, this dude's got 36% approval, which means if Bush were magically able to throw out a first pitch in that mythical place called Anytown, USA, only about a third of the people would have clapped. But in Cincinatti, he gets a standing O from about everybody. You know, you hear stories about how red Cincinatti is, but it takes something like this to really drive home the point: these people are conservaTIVE. (Sorry, Shawn -- I feel for you. Though I'm sure, if Bush were to take the mound at Turner Field here in Atlanta, he'd get a standing ovation, too. If you're white and hail from a southern state in this country, percentage-wise anyway, it's a likely thing you're a Bush-supporter.) But, even still, it looks like Bush and his handlers, even in Cincinatti, were worried about a tepid response from the opening day crowd, so, accompanying him out onto the field, were "two injured soldiers and a father who lost his son in Afghanistan." Try and boo that, Cincinatti. I dare you. Sometimes I think Bush is more afraid of being embarrassed than I am, which is saying something.
Anyway, the other part of the MSNBC story concerns fans' first reaction to Barry Bonds coming to the plate in the regular season since a new book detailing his steroid use came out (the Giants' season opener was down in San Diego). He got himself some boos from the crowd, and deservedly so. One fan even threw a syringe out onto the field. Fantastic. The aforementioned book, entitled Game of Shadows, was written by two San Francisco Chronicle sportswriters, and it apparently lays out in exacting detail years of steroid abuse by Barry Bonds (as well as Jason Giambi) at a place called Balco. Last week, Bud Selig, the Commisioner of Baseball, hired former Senator George Mitchell to run an investigation into the allegations made in the book.
I know some of this urgency on the part of the MLB stems from the fact that Bonds is only 6 or 7 home-runs away from breaking Babe Ruth's record. That'll be a big black eye on baseball if The Incredible Bulk breaks it, and Selig is, I think, trying to keep it from happening. But how sweeping is this supposed house-cleaning going to be? Are they just working to get Bonds out of the game and then relax? Are they going to get his record straightened out? My main question is this: what about Mark Maguire and Sammy Sosa?
They were obvious steroid users, too. Sammy Sosa took the "no ingles" defense when he testified before Congress, using a translator to deliver his non-answers, and Maguire did little better by answering Senator's questions about his own steroid use with, "I'm not here to talk about the past." Which is basically like pleading the 5th without actually using those words. So Maguire and Sosa get to keep their crazy, steroid and HGH-fueled homerun tallies but Bonds is likely to get run out of the sport altogether? I'm not saying Bonds doesn't deserve it, but why is it that Maguire gets to escape a similar fate?
Is it because neither St. Louis nor Chicago have super reporters that can spend 15-months on the trail of their pharmaceutical misdeeds like Bonds had? Or, in Maguire's case, is it because he's retired from the sport and not a threat to sacred cows like Ruth, and later on Aaron? I think part of the reason storm clouds are swirling over Bonds's head right now is because nobody likes the guy. He's been a miserable sonofabitch to any fan brave enough to give him an opportunity, he's surly with reporters of all stripes, distant and uncommunicative with his teammates, and now he's trying to beat the Holiest of All Holy Records by cheating with steroids. Could part of the reason Maguire and Sosa are, in all liklihood, going to escape the wrath of Major League Baseball be because they're nicer guys?
The punishment that's almost assuredly coming to Bonds won't be MLB's attempt to scapegoat a single player for the sins of the entire sport; it'll be more like karmic retribution. Maybe years of being a sonofabitch are about to come back and bite him in the ass. But putting Bonds aside for a moment, if Selig and Major League Baseball were really serious about wiping the slate clean after the Steroid Era, were really serious about setting the official record straight, they'd investigate the nice guys who cheated, too. The cheating nice guys being Maguire and Sosa (among others). They're just as famous as Bonds, their records are just as tarnished. If it's possible, I hope the investigation Mitchell is leading can pinpoint the time these guys started using and either asterick the hell out of every stat after that, or erase them entirely. In short, yeah, get Bonds out, but be serious and get the other guys, too.
Also, great news: Tom DeLay's not running for re-election. I guess fighting all those felony charges is going to take more time than he expected. Darn. All right, I'm out.