Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Baseball Roundtable

I was sick as a dog all weekend, but I have to admit that Prince Fielder’s trash talking of the Pirates’ Matt Capps had to be a high point of my year so far. You know the story – Saturday night, Capps drilled Fielder with a pitch that almost hit him in the head. On Sunday, Fielder came back, hit two home runs (and barely missed a third), and scored the go-ahead run when Bill Hall singled off Capps. After he slid home, Fielder jumped up and started screaming at Capps – the TV announcers kindly said he was merely excited, but it was clear he was screaming at the Pirates’ pitcher, who was standing behind home plate. The replay clearly showed Prince was politely accusing Capps of engaging in intercourse with one of his closest relatives.

I, for one, applaud Prince for his trash talking. It wasn’t like he didn’t back it up – he came out like a man and got it done. And after watching the Brewers sleepwalk through a morose two decades, it’s great to see some fire and emotion back in the team. Unfortunately, it’s too late to retroactively name my son “Prince.”

Of course, the Brewers, despite their league-best 21 wins, still remain invisible to ESPN. I turned on “Baseball Tonight” last night at 6:00 to catch some highlights. The hosts talked about Roger Clemens’ return to the Yankees (currently in last place) from 6:00 to 6:18. When they went to commercial, they promised “more on the Roger Clemens” signing later in the show. Sure enough, at 6:30 we got a live update on the Clemens situation from Michael Kay, the Yankees’ broadcaster. They squeezed in a few highlights from the day, then finished up the show with – you guessed it – more Clemens news.

It goes without saying that anything in baseball outside of New York and Boston doesn’t merit coverage from ESPN. But this is ridiculous. When Christ finally returns from the dead to forgive us of our sins, he better sign with the Yanks or the Sox – otherwise, nobody will ever know.

ESPN also deserves criticism for their reporting on a poll they conducted that shows divergent opinions between blacks and whites with regard to Barry Bonds. The poll shows that by a nearly two to one margin over whites, African Americans take Barry Bonds’ side on everything. For instance, 76 percent of whites believe Barry Bonds knowingly used steroids, while 37 percent of blacks believe he did.

Of course, through ESPN’s view of race, the only conclusion that could be drawn from these numbers is that whites are unfairly treating Barry Bonds. They inexplicably brought on Stephen A. Smith to hammer this point home.

They don’t even consider the flip side of the equation – that 63% of blacks are willingly deluding themselves into thinking Barry Bonds didn’t knowingly use steroids. Let’s back up for a moment – Barry Bonds has admitted to using steroids. That isn’t in dispute. He contends that he was somehow tricked by his trainer for years into taking the cream and the clear, which contained human growth hormone. The question is whether you believe that he knew what he was taking or not – and 63% of blacks must believe Bonds is the dumbest man alive.

I read “Game of Shadows” cover to cover. It documents Bonds’ steroid use in great detail, year after year. If you believe Bonds didn’t knowingly use steroids then you either haven’t looked at the evidence or you are willingly fooling yourself. Reasonable people can disagree about what that steroid use means, or whether Bonds is being unfairly targeted, but to argue that he didn’t knowingly cheat says more about yourself than about Bonds.

In trying to convince you you’re a racist if you abhor Barry Bonds, ESPN ignores another monumental fact. Part of what’s so galling about Bonds is that he’s about to steal the most sacred record from Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron is… black. Yet Aaron handled his career with grace and dignity, which is antithetical to Bonds’ entire being. So we’re unfairly injecting race into our opinion of Bonds because he’s about to steal a record from another African-American? How does that make any sense?

Yet ESPN is willing to throw this hand grenade of race out there, without having either the decency or intellectual capacity to argue both sides. It truly is despicable.

On Jackie Robinson Day, you may remember the wall-to-wall complaining on ESPN about how there aren’t enough African-Americans going into baseball – as if this were a matter of national importance, rather than simply of personal choice. That being said, is it pretty cool that the Brewers have four American-grown black players? Yes it is.

UPDATE: I got home from work at 9:30 tonight, turned on ESPN just in time for SportsCenter. And what was I treated to? That\’s right – Clemens, Yankee highlights, and more Clemens. Incidentally, one more note on the Rocket – in the steroid era, when something happens that nobody has ever seen before, it\’s impossible to believe it. We may never know what substances Clemens was taking (there\’s no test for human growth hormone), but it\’s awfully coincidental that a 45 year old can go out and throw 95 miles per hour – something completely unheard of before he did it. And if someone ever documents his cheating? I\’ll have just as much vitriol for Clemens as I do Bonds.

2 Comments

  1. Barry Bonds has no idea what racism is. If he did, and truly understood what Aaron went through when he passed Ruth, Barry would do the honorable thing and retire tonight.

    Oh, and if Christ returned, CNN would certainly cover the event. And call it a Karl Rove publicity stunt to energize the base.

    jd

  2. When Christ finally returns from the dead to forgive us of our sins,

    Now THERE’S an assumption!

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