HNIC wrote a fantastic piece yesterday on Jackie Robinson and I just wanted to write a tangential post here, looking at an article Jeff Pearlman wrote for ESPN’s page 2 over the weekend about Barry Bonds’ decision to wear No. 42 for the Robinson celebration. I generally like Pearlman, and I like his politics (he’s one of the few mainstream sportswriters to be upfront about what those are). But, his piece on Bonds (about whom he wrote a well publicized book) was piling on at its most egregious. And, in the course of attacking Bonds for doing what scores of major leaguers did the past couple of days, he showed an ignorance of the complexity of Jackie Robinson himself, which HNIC so beautifully laid out.
As an aside, I want to note that my father, who died many years ago, was a political radical in his day and was among the folks who volunteered to be a body guard for Robeson during the fateful Peekskill concert to which HNIC referred. Robeson died in January, 1976, when I was ten, and I heard a lot about him, especially because my fifth grade music teacher, Mr. Scott, devoted the entire semester to studying Robeson after his passing.
OK, to Pearlman. To cut to the chase, Pearlman was deeply offended by the fact that Bonds decided to wear No. 42, comparing that decision to President Bush’s entirely phony efforts to drape himself in the clothing of an environmentalist while supporting policies that do clear detriment to the environment:
Of course, by now all noncomatose homo sapiens realize that Bush is to the environment what Hulk Hogan was to the Iron Sheik’s head. He’s pro- Alaska oil drilling, anti- the ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, pro- curtailing the federal standard for arsenic in drinking water and, most recently, anti- the right of states to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from motor vehicles.
He also hates long walks on the beach and birds that chirp.
And yet, when Bush shows up at a forest gate to kiss a leopard, none of us flinch. We are numb to the phenomenon. It is what it is — a public figure extolling a virtue, then doing zilch to support it.
Which leads us, naturally, to Barry Lamar Bonds.