Thursday, August 09, 2007

Guilty until proven innocent

It's one thing for an individual to express an opinion on Barry Bonds' new place as all time home run leader. But, there's something disquieting about the editorial board of a major newspaper condemning someone who has not even been charged either in the legal system or in MLB procedures, let alone convicted. The Oregonian did just that in a little editorial today A record* made to be broken.

People usually want to see history made, share in it, revel in it, tell the grandkids about it. Not this time. This was history most baseball fans didn't care to see.
. . .
Of course, history still may tape a big fat asterisk to Bonds' feat. A criminal investigation is under way; Bonds' personal trainer is in prison, held in contempt for refusing to testify; baseball is probing players' alleged steroid use, too.
. . .
[Bonds] holds the record, but not the hearts of many fans. Some day another slugger will break Bonds' record. That will be baseball history worth watching -- and worth celebrating.

The Oregonian editors already know that Bonds' achievement is not worth celebrating. They don't need hard evidence. Gut feeling, that old backbone of vigilante justice, is enough.

There was begrudging respect for his abilities, but they couldn't help but insert their condemnation for Bonds' lack of charm.

Yet by the numbers, Barry Bonds is now the greatest home run hitter in baseball history. Give him his due: He is not just a puffed-up, stuck-up man, but a marvelous hitter of baseballs.

People said the same thing about Ty Cobb--and worse. What Cobb accomplished ranks him among the greatest in baseball—not how well he was liked by the press or fans. Anyone who loves baseball would be crazy not to have wanted to see Cobb play.

This issue is a little deeper. It's about the need for proof before condemnation. The next time the Oregonian editors lecture someone about assuming guilt before it's proved or about vigilante justice maybe they'll remember this little editorial and be ashamed.

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