This invitation for Barry Bonds to retire by Richard Hoffer of Sports Illustrated is so rife with conflict I don’t even know where to begin. Why should Bonds retire, exactly? Because he juiced? If that’s the case, then maybe 200 other ballplayers should quit too. Is it because he’s near a record? If that’s the case, then should any player who juiced quit when they approach a record? Unforunately, there’s no proof (yet), despite all of our reasonable suspicions, that Bonds knowingly took steroids, and there’s no way to punish him for what he’s done, other than to watch him break records and refuse to applaud him. Shame is shame, in the record books or not. But calling for Bonds to retire voluntarily is Hoffer’s silly idea of selective justice. The author himself says it will change nothing, and he’s right. So what’s the point, exactly? Why should Bonds just up and scapegoat himself? To make Richard Hoffer feel better about the record books? If Bonds quits, what big-picture issues are solved? Hoffer argues that Bonds’ place in the record books will be too difficult a reminder to bear, of the con job Bonds has perpetrated on the game and it’s fans. I say let the record stand, should he get there. If anything, we’ll need this reminder of his dishonesty to show us how bad things have gotten, how the MLBPA and Ownership let hucksters get away with sullying the record books. That will be the most powerful reminder of all for us, and a lesson, having a man who cheated on the top of the list. If that’s not enough inspiration to rid the game of steroids then it’s a lost cause.
So here’s a remarkable proposal: how about holding MLB ownership and the MLBPA leadership accountable, Mr. Hoffer, as opposed to one of their more accomplished foot soldiers? You are picking on baseball’s Lynndie England, guilty without a doubt, but forgiving the game’s Rumsfelds, who gave this player inspiration for his duplicity. How will that fix anything?