The steroid controversy has continued to rage on for the better part of the last decade. Once considered the “Saviors of Baseball”, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire have been relegated to freak show outcasts. Now with the influx of new names into the despised steroid users list, an incredible phenomenon is taking place. From the ashes of the fans disgust for cheaters has raised an incredible double standard. Manny Ramirez is still enjoying the cheers from Mannywood and David Ortiz has barely experienced any backlash at all. Barry Bonds and his steroid use virtually destroyed the way he will be remembered and tainted all of his records. When Manny passed Mickey Mantle a few weeks back, barely a negative word was mentioned. Could it be that people were just looking for a reason to hate Bonds? Or has the public finally be desensitized to steroid use?
Barry Bonds is a full-fledged jackass. What if he’d had the endearing personality of Mr. Fred Rodgers? Could we really hate someone who consistently asked us if we would be his neighbors? Bonds ability to treat everyone as a lower class human is the driving force behind his demise. His unlikable personality made him an easy target for those looking to put a face on the steroid period. Mark McGwire should have had that privilege, but he did not have enough venom necessary to fill the role of the villain. Sosa could have also filled this role, but after he began being tested his skill level dropped him off the baseball radar. This left Bonds as the only hateful persona capable of carrying the burden of “pure cheater”. Bonds did nothing to negate the effects of his decisions. He simply sat back and acted exactly like Barry Bonds. It was not the cheating that made Bonds the scapegoat; it was the perfect storm of timing, personality, and necessity.
The fans of baseball have grown weary of hating. After spending the last nine years having their innocence obliterated by steroid users, a sense of desperation has set in. When news of Manny Ramirez’s use broke, the spirit to burn cheaters at the stake had abated. Ramirez’s personality also helped the ordeal blow over. That talent has not been limited just to steroids however. Ramirez spent over 7 seasons acting like a spoiled kid in Boston, but always finished his complaining with a smile. Urinating in the green monster? Manny being Manny. Cutting off a throw from his centerfielder? Manny being Manny. Complaining about his contract and saying he wants more money? Manny being Manny. When he became a free agent last year, his initial statement was “Gas prices are up and so am I.” Manny being Manny. If Bonds had made the same statement…Bonds being a dick.
The current climate is not right for bringing down the steroid users in baseball. American fans want to see success stories. In 2003 the economy was just beginning its fall, America was entering a war, and people were angry. So why not take it out on an egocentric millionaire. In fact, Bonds could very well have been responsible for 9/11. With the election of a new president, the slow but steady recovery of the economy, and a desire to move forward, social justice has taken a backseat to redemption. In a world striving for positives, no one wants to be the individual to delve on the negative aspects. Manny and Ortiz are likely going to be admitted steroid users, but who has the time and energy to turn them into villains?