Want to get dumber?

Then read this, an article by an self-proclaimed ethicist on why no one signed Barry Bonds. He compares Bonds to a murderer, a convict, and a drug abuser; misunderstands the purpose of the Mitchell Report (it was about getting Congress to back off, and perhaps scoring some PR points); and argues that teams also didn’t sign Bonds because he wasn’t a good bet to “duplicate” his previous performances, even though a 20% drop in performance would still make him obscenely valuable.

I thought THT took a great step forward in adding Craig Calcaterra’s Shysterball blog – among my must-reads every day – but content like this “ethics” article is just inexcusable.

UPDATE: The article’s author, Jack Marshall, posted a lengthy rejoinder in the comments below.


  1. I don’t have a lot to add to what John Brattain has written. My main point is that Marshall has failed to make his case that signing Bonds in 2008 would have been different from the Rangers signing Sammy Sosa in 2007. Sammy Sosa was, for a long time, the face of baseball in ways Barry Bonds, because of his personality, never was. He was the one in commercials, including commercials promoting MLB itself. He was the one whose appearance before Congress damaged his own reputation and that of MLB. Yet he played a full season as the DH of the Rangers and the world didn’t end.

    The only differences that I can see are the indictment (which still hasn’t gone to trial) and the release of the Mitchell Report. I think others have debunked the value of the latter and I don’t buy Marshall’s argument that the Mitchell Report represents baseball’s values at all. As Brattain points out, the owners of major league clubs pocketed billions from the growth in popularity due to steroids, plus billions more in public subsidies of stadia. They were selling tickets and merchandise and broadcast rights on the implied promise they were putting on a legitimate sporting exhibition. I see the Mitchell Report as a means of shifting the blame from what they did and profited from to the players. People like Marshall, and much of the mainstream media, are complicit in that attempt.

    Let me make the point in a personal sense. On July 15, 2005, I attended the game at which Rafael Palmeiro struck his 3000th hit. The game was greatly hyped and attendance was larger than it would otherwise have been because of the possibility he would achieve the milestone. At the time, MLB knew that Palmeiro had failed a test for steroids. They didn’t reveal this fact until after the game. In other words, they wanted my admission price for the game at Safeco Field regardless of the legitimacy of the contest they were putting on the field. The result of the Mitchell Report was not me receiving a refund from the Mariners for attending that game.

    To me, the focus on Bonds as an individual is a convenient way to take the focus off Bud Selig, off the owners, off the people who come hat in hand demanding stadium subsidies and tax breaks or else they’ll deny us the game they can’t play any better than I can. If their values were really reflected in the Mitchell Report, there would have been no need for a Mitchell Report. Their real values were reflected, as I see it, in the way they handled Palmeiro’s 3000th hit, just as they had the Sosa-McGwire spectacle in 1998, and all the other steroid-fueled games ever since. The A’s don’t give back their World’s Championship, Jason Giambi keeps his 2000 MVP award, and all the games all the players were in remain with their results and stats.

    I don’t see the argument that Barry Bonds individually is the symbol of all this. I don’t see that it is ethical to support his ostracization when the owners sit in their offices counting the money they all made off him.