So Many Scandals, So Little Time

A lot of ground to cover, but below I’ll cover the ESPN town hall on Barry Bonds in some depth.

It’s been a crazy few days in the world of sports. Last week, in a post about ESPN, I complained about the police-blotter approach so common these days in sports journalism. That was after the Vick indictment, but before the Tim Donaghy investigation became public knowledge. Those two newsmaking events, plus the ongoing homerun chase, featuring the intensely polarizing would-be king, Barry Bonds, still the subject of an endless grand jury investigation, has led many sports commentators the past few days to wonder which of the three major commissioners has it roughest right now. There’s an obvious answer – David Stern faces a threat to the integrity of his sport in a way that neither Roger Goddell or Bud Selig does. But, it’s all a dream come true, in a way, for sports media, as July is generally lamented as a slow sports month, and if you’re not a baseball fan, it’s the month many sports fans consider the worst of the year. With basketball in the rearview mirror and football tantalizingly close but still not under way, July is purgatory for the sports news cycle. Until this week, anyway.

And, for good measure, there is the almost comical level of cheating in the Tour de France. Michael Rasmussen, the leader after sixteen stages and the likely winner of the 2007 Tour, was thrown out of the race yesterday by his team for violating team rules clearly related to his skipping earlier drug tests. I have argued before that I am not convinced performance enhancing drugs should be illegal, but when it comes to cycling, I am absolutely convinced that the Tour de France will never again have a legitimate champion as long as it tries to ban PEDs and related activities.

Concerning former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, there has been much dire talk the past few days about what serious trouble the league is in, especially if it turns out, as some media reports have suggested, that Donaghy names names of other officials who might have bet on games in which they officiated and, additionally, helped influence the outcome of those games. Mike Francesa said yesterday that this scandal can “collapse your sport” and that’s been a characteristic reaction throughout sports media.

But, while the Donaghy revelations are extremely serious – we all understand that integrity of outcome is the single most cherished principle in competitive athletics – I am not convinced this is all quite so dire for the NBA. Reporting in Tuesday’s New York Times (the story was written before Stern’s Tuesday news conference), Richard Sandomir noted that the NBA, on June 27, inked new TV contracts with ESPN and TNT for eight-years at a total value of $7.4 billion. Sandomir wondered out loud whether the NBA should have informed the networks of the Donaghy investigation, of which it was aware for a week at the time the new TV deals were signed. (The NBA didn’t because the FBI told it not to).

But, whatever ethical quandaries the withholding of such information might raise, there appear to be no hard feelings:

By their reactions, the networks seem to believe that the accusations against Donaghy are isolated and that the league will upgrade its referee-monitoring efforts. Or they’re just too in need of N.B.A. programming to gripe.

“We believe the N.B.A. acted in good faith,” John Skipper, ESPN’s executive vice president for content, said in a statement. He added, “We don’t expect this to have a material impact on our agreement.”

Even if it turns out that Donaghy is not the only implicated official, I don’t think the NBA will suffer too terribly. Its major source of revenue is unlikely to be affected. Ticket sales might take a short-term hit, but I don’t think that will last. The NBA has an officiating problem – its the most arbitrarily and erratically officiated major sport in America – but that’s an old problem. If anything, this scandal will prompt the commissioner to take more seriously all of the complaints about officiating that afflict the league, to the long-term benefit of the product. The league would be damaged in the longer term if evidence of officials’ malfeasance continued to trickle out over time. But, if the current investigation identifies the wrong-doers now, the NBA will survive this.

Then Commissioner Stern can return to the serious business of making sure that players stand up straight for the star spangled banner, dress appropriately when they’re not in uniform and chew gum with their mouths closed.

ESPN held a Townhall meeting tonight on Barry Bonds, facilitated by Bob Ley. ESPN put together a good panel representing varied perspectives on Bonds. Former teammates Ellis Burks and Kirk Rueter were on it, as was Bonds’ long-time manager Dusty Baker. All three were adamant that Bonds was innocent until proven guilty and were more interested in emphasizing his greatness as a player than his foibles as a person. Lance Williams, co-author of Game of Shadows was there, as were Bonds critic and long-time sports columnist Bryan Burwell (interviewed by Michael Tillery for TSF not long ago), and veteran baseball writer Buster Olney. Juan Williams, veteran columnist for the Washington Post and contributor to FOX news was also on the panel, for reasons I can’t quite figure. The ninety-minute affair, held at the Palace of the Arts in San Francisco (in front of a very Barry-friendly crowd) was not really a Town Hall meeting. It was a panel discussion that allowed room for the very occasional question from the audience, and a couple of asides to allow ESPN’s Amy Nelson to read select viewer emails.

A few noteworthy points:

1) on the question of evidence of Bonds’ guilt, Game of Shadows co-author Lance Williams laid out the case against Bonds: the leaked grand jury testimony, tapes of Greg Anderson describing how masking agents help users beat drug tests, other interviews corroborating the above evidence. Ellis Burks responded by wondering out loud why, if there’s so much evidence, Barry hasn’t been convicted yet. Bonds, of course, has not yet been tried, but I have wondered something similar for a long time. We have all heard how rigged the grand jury system is in America in favor of the prosecution. And yet, the Bonds grand jury has been sitting for something like two years now (and just had its term extended by six months), and still haven’t handed down an indictment. Getting a conviction at trial is one thing – getting an indictment from a grand jury is an entirely separate matter. I want to make clear here that I am not saying that the lack of indictment proves Bonds’ innocence. But, if there are lawyers out there who can illuminate this process for me, I’d appreciate it. Because, to repeat, I am baffled that, given all the apparent evidence against Bonds, and given how relatively easy it is to get an indictment, why have federal prosecutors not yet secured one against Bonds after all this time.

2) Buster Olney has been unique among major journalists in declaring mea culpa about the steroids era. In a blog entry from earlier in the week, Olney described his own failures as a reporter who “did a lousy job of getting information on the growing steroid problem into print.” Olney repeated those sentiments on the panel, chastising Commissioner Selig for his hypocritical attempts to distance himself from Bonds and wash his hands of Bonds’ presumed transgressions. On his blog, using words similar to those he uttered on the panel, Olney wrote:

But history will remember this, too: Bud Selig’s statistics also were built with the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The record attendance, the revitalization of the game in the mid-’90s, the explosion of the sport’s multimedia ventures? Grown at a time when the game, by many accounts, has been saturated with the use of steroids and amphetamines, and at a time when Selig and other leaders in the sport ignored years of red flags.

If the commissioner intends to avoid games and teams and players touched either directly or indirectly by performance-enhancing drugs, he might as well forget about Major League Baseball and instead devote himself to the local Milwaukee Little League.

3) Juan William, arguing with Dusty Baker about the obvious change in Bonds’ performance level at an age when that shouldn’t have happened, was sloppy with his numbers. He said that Bonds had fourteen years with thirty homers, and then “suddenly with fifty and seventy homeruns. You’re talking about something that’s way out of line given his age and proportion. Look at Hank Aaron, who never even hit fifty homeruns in a season, but that’s someone who, through discipline and excellence is achieving the goal.”

A couple of points here. As I’ve written before, there’s no doubt about the change in Bonds’ performance level from 2001-2004. He was a fantastic player, an all-time great, prior to that time, but went stratospheric in that four year period. But, contrary to Williams, Bonds hit forty homeruns three times in the 1990s, including a pre-2000 career high of 46 in 1993. Bonds was already a great homerun hitter, having averaged nearly forty homers a year between 1993 and 1998, before the period under suspicion. Additionally, though the jump isn’t nearly as dramatic, the fact is that Hank Aaron hit his career high of 47 homeruns when he was 37 years old in 1971. In 1971, Aaron also set his career high in slugging percentage and OPS-plus. In 1973, Aaron hit forty homeruns in less than 400 at bats, an absolutely staggering performance in an era in which offensive production was dramatically lower than it has been for the past fifteen years. He was 39. So, it’s not unheard of for great homerun hitters to enter a period of great production in their late thirties. Aaron himself is proof of that. And, again, I am not claiming that Aaron’s late thirties production was nearly at the level of Bonds’, or nearly as out of proportion to the rest of his career. But, Williams caricatured the career paths of both Bonds and Aaron. He also created an unnecessary, and false, dichotomy. There is little doubt that Bonds possesses, in abundance, discipline and excellence. That he may also have cheated does not change that fact. Williams is trying hard to make a point about character here, and in the process is mis-stating the question at hand.

4) on the question of fairness in the treatment of Bonds, Olney argued that “institutional context is lost.” He pointed out that Jose Canseco was asked about steroid use as far back as 1988 and that, by the mid-90s, there were very widespread suspicions throughout the sport. In other words, singling out Bonds misses how widespread the issue has been (and, for his part, unless he has definitive proof, Olney will not base his Hall of Fame ballot on suspicions. With that in mind, he did vote for McGwire this year, and would vote for Bonds). Bryan Burwell said that the question of media fairness was an important one and pointed out that there is a 44-year old pitcher (Clemens) who has shown almost no drop-off in his performance and whose name has come up in a federal investigation involving steroids. He also noted that Lance Armstrong has gotten a relative free pass. Burwell, nevertheless, balked at using those examples to exonerate Bonds. For Burwell, Barry “did something wrong” and those others also did something wrong. Here, Kirk Rueter chimed in to rebut Burwell, insisting that he could not assert that Bonds did something wrong without proof.

There has been an ongoing divide between fellow ballplayers on the one hand, and media and fans on the other when it comes to Bonds and to the issue of steroids use in general. The panel was a representative microcosm of that, with Burks, Baker and Rueter testifying to Bonds greatness while being generally dismissive of allegations against him. Jeff Pearlman, among others, has written that this is all the product of a stupid code among ball players, that they will never rat out other ballplayers. But, I suspect there is more to it than that. On Mike and Mike, Golic has repeatedly argued that discussion of steroid use is overblown and said that Bonds is being singled out because he’s chasing a record, not because he’s done anything unique. Yesterday, Greenberg argued that what was so bad about performance enhancing drugs was that they denied to fans their ability to engage in unabashed hero worship. Greenberg said that what fans granted to athletes was that athletes could do things that ordinary guys, like Greenie, never could. But steroids called all of that into question, raising the possibility that cheating athletes were no better than the ordinary fan. Golic asked why, if that was the case, no one cared about Shawne Merriman using steroids, since Greenie’s argument should hold true across the board.

But, though Golic didn’t say it, there’s another argument here – that pro athletes are different, physically superior individuals, and they know it. And, when someone among their number stands out in their greatness, even relative to their peer group, they admire that. Some may think that drugs conferred an unfair advantage on a ballplayer. But, the admiration for Bonds’ greatness among his peers strikes me as genuine. Whatever drug use may or may not have done for him, virtually all of his peers understand that he has gifts that surpass their own. So, perhaps more than a code of silence, there is the fundamental respect for greatness that, among athletes, might be more heightened than it is among ordinary fans. Just as a great classical pianist might better understand and be better able to admire the talents of an even greater pianist than could an ordinary listener.

5) on the question of race, naturally there were differences of opinion. Ley introduced that subject by reporting the results of an ABC-ESPN poll, in which 46% of Blacks and only 25% of Whites thought that Bonds was treated unfairly. Of those who believe Bonds is being treated unfairly, 27% of Blacks believe that is so because of race, whereas only 1% of Whites believe race is the reason.

Dusty Baker said “this is America” so, of course, race is a factor, though only a part of the reason for the antipathy to Bonds, part of which, Baker pointed out, “Barry’s brought on himself.” Baker also pointed out that it wasn’t just Aaron who received hate mail, that he himself received hate mail as recently as last year, and he assumes Bonds has also been receiving hate mail. (Given that Boise State running back Ian Johnson, famous for proposing on the field to his White fiancee after BSU’s incredible victory over Oklahoma in January, is receiving threatening mail, I think it’s a fair bet that the much higher profile Bonds is also receiving hate mail).

Juan Williams pointed to the recent Sports Illustrated cover with Hank Aaron on it and said “I think they compare him as the good Black guy to Barry Bonds, who’s posited as the bad Black guy. I think you can go back to Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier and see that Whites would identify, especially conservative whites, with Joe Frazier versus the controversial Ali.” In David Remnick’s book on Ali, he notes that White America similarly gravitated to Floyd Patterson as the good Black, as against the “thuggish” Sonny Liston.

Burwell said he thought the race issue cut both ways: “I believe wholeheartedly that there is significant portion of whites who dislike Barry solely because of the color of his skin. I believe a significant portion of Blacks support Barry solely because of the color of his skin.”

6) on the question of whether Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame, Juan Williams suugested that the Hall would be “corrupted” by the entry of Bonds. Other panelists, like Baker and Rueter, noted that other cheaters are in the Hall, like Gaylord Perry, at which Williams bristled, since Williams believes that you cannot compare scuffing a baseball to steroids. Baker’s retort: “have you ever seen what scuffing a baseball does?” and motioned with his hand to suggest a dramatic change in movement. It’s an interesting and, as yet, unsatisfactorily answered question – why do certain kinds of efforts to gain an illicit edge – whether monkeying with equipment (corked bats, scuffed baseballs), or taking less scrutnized drugs, like amphetamines – get so much less attention than the group of drugs broadly called steroids?

7) Juan Williams criticized the Selig era by noting that he was an owner and was put in place by owners as a powerplay by them to take over the commissioner’s office. This corrupted the office, according to Williams, and led him (and the owners) to turn a blind eye to the steroids era. Selig, according to Williams, “has yet to take a principled stand on the issue” of Bonds and steroids, because he himself is so compromised.

With all the complaining about what a joke sportscenter has become, and ESPN now and all that, ESPN did well last night to devote ninety minutes to a serious discussion of an issue that is getting so much attention.


32 Responses to “So Many Scandals, So Little Time”

  1. It was a very ‘fair and balanced’ program. Jaun Williams killed me with the ‘currupt’ the Hall line. I guess then every player from from teh pre Jackie Robinson era should be removed since their feats are currupted and slanted due to the institutionalized bannishment players of color in MLB.

    And for whatever reason Burwell just comes off as a crotchety old Black man that hates everything about younger Black men. When pressed, he never provided and real evidence or details to his assertions that Bonds cheated. His stances appear to be soley based on second hand information he gleaned from “Game of Shadows”.

    The Greg Anderson audio tape that was supposed to be a bombshell of sorts, was a dud. Williams never mentioned Bonds, Sheff, M. Jones or anyone. I guess we are supposed to draw the conclusuion that he was referring to them? I’m sorry, but I can’t take that leap based on a 15 second, 1 way, conversation to an unnamed person.

  2. I agree that the NBA is in the worst shape in terms of PR.

    When players cheat, fans may get upset, but they can understand the motivation. Players want to win, and sometimes they’ll break the rules to do it.

    But when it comes to referees, it’s a different story. They aren’t supposed to want “to win.” They are supposed to be impartial (theoretically).

    Player scandals are easy to explain away. They can follow the basic CYA script for any organization/administration in trouble: the bad apple theorem.

    It usually goes something like this:
    “Unfortunately, some people can’t follow the rules. We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things. The NBA/NFL/NHL/MLB/Military/Police/etc is just a microcosm of society. You’ll find a bad apple in every bunch.

    As for the structure of the organization that encourages and enables that behavior… ummm…. let’s not look behind that curtain.”

  3. In case you didn’t know, Juan Williams has, like Thomas Sowell, Armstrong Williams, Jason Whitlock, John McWhorter and Debra Dickerson, made a name for himself by serving as a stand-in for “whites” in racially-charged discourse. Each of these individuals transformed mediocre, second-rate accomplishments in their primary field of endeavor (Sowell, a mediocre economist; McWhorter, a mediocre linguist; Williams (both) as subpar social scientists) into lucrative (Whitlock is waiting on deck) media-driven careers as Black talking-heads of anti-Black perspectives.

    The essence of their work is to provide Al Jolson-esque cover to entrenched agendas using specious empirical arguments (you cite Williams’ work above) and scattered ideological claims (Whitlock’s take on hip-hop and the penitentiary). These individuals are akin to a wet dream for a producer. If you need a voice that can be termed conservative (even though the overwhelming majority of Blacks in the US are socially conservative, if not politically or economically given the empirical reality), you can get that voice in Black face. You avoid of unnecessary hassle of dealing with demonizing white conservative or being hit with charges of “racism” or “unfair and unbalanced” panels.

    Each of these individuals shares a common intellectual and activist lineage…but the roots are external to the Black freedom tradition. These persons are part of the Black Appeasement Tradition (and there is one – don’t let anyone tell you different). That appeasement tradition has consisted of elite collaboration with government to undermine independent Black efforts. It has consisted of collaboration with government thugs to infiltrate, investigate and assassinate independent leadership. Williams’ is deeply ensconced in that tradition. He is no heir to that which defines the best of who we are.

    In fact, he is much more like those Blacks adored by whites for services rendered – and in that vein, he is a kindred spirit of none other than Orenthal James Simpson.

    With the 15th pick in the racial draft…

  4. Excellent points T3… Jaun Willims like the others you mentioned are the ‘go to’ Black guys conservatives and neo-cons call on to validate their claims of Black inferiority, savagery, stupidity, criminology, victimhood, etc without getting tagged as being racist. They all willing fall on the sword for these people for… money and notoriety (Whitlock and Armstrong). No matter the cause, you can always find one of these dudes carrying the water and shuoting from the highest mountain tops we (Blacks) need and support any all government sponsored setbacks to our advancement. At the end of the day you can always blame it on those thuggish hip-hop ni$$as.

  5. Thanks for the breakdown on Aaron and Bonds.

    Has anyone ever asked Barry why he believes his production went through the roof? His career has been very interesting. When he hit 73 homers, he hit 3rd in front of Jeff Kent. In 1993, he hit 46 homers batting fifth behind Matt Williams. His protection in the lineup that year ranged from Robbie Thompson to Willie McGee to Royce Clayton (can you imagine) to Todd Benzinger to Mark Carrion to JR Phillips. I wonder if Bonds could’ve hit 70 in 1993 batting IN FRONT of Will Clark and Matt Williams. In ’93 Williams hit 38 homers but walked on 27 times. Bonds had 126 walks hitting BEHIND Williams.

    I hadn’t realized that he’d spent so much time batting either 3rd or 4th or 5th in the Giants lineup.

    When you take to the time to look at this statistics (in context: batting order, complementary players, etc.), Barry Bonds has been SO extremely good for so long that it is beginning to boggle this mind. Looking back at those statistics from 1993, it should be obvious that the manager had lost his mind having Bonds bat behind Clark and Williams. His plate discipline and bat speed have always been exceptional…what was missing was the opportunity to hit in the #3 slot with a big bat behind him. In 2001, we saw what was possible. We might have seen it in 1993 if the Giants were managed differently.

  6. Anybody see what happened to Odell Thurman. I swear to God Goodell has lost his mind. This is WORSE than the age limit and the dress code for Stern.

  7. Sportsdiva Says:

    “In fact, he is much more like those Blacks adored by whites for services rendered – and in that vein, he is a kindred spirit of none other than Orenthal James Simpson.”

    Round of applause for that one T3!

    And don’t people always except them back into the fold of black collective compassion when they inevidably get spit out.

  8. I’d like to see what Bonds’ production looks like over his career (excluding 2001-2004) testing for two factors: the impact of batting at different slots in the order AND the impact of the batting averages and Walk/Strikeout ratios of the players batting behind him. That would give me some indication of an effect.

  9. Sportsdiva Says:


    WTF!?!? Goodell is really acting like an Emporer. What is his reasoning here?? Or is he telling us he doesn’t need reason anymore??

  10. Where’s Gene Upshaw????

  11. Gene Upshaw is at Goodell’s desk…..or under it, on his knees, that is.

  12. Sportsdiva Says:

    Giving Goodell a massage!

  13. SportsDiva:

    I don’t think so. Personally, I haven’t considered to be Black (politically or culturally) since the late 1960’s. I don’t mean that as a value judgment, but as a statement on his revealed preferences as I understood them. In other words, “You are who you say you are.” You are neither what other people call you nor are you what people perceive you to be. On that basis, OJ ceased to be Black (capital B) a long time ago. And he was granted “honorary white” status like Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Ben Vereen, Sammy Davis, Jr. and so many other supremely talented persons. I am not arguing the extent to which those persons accepted or rejected that status. It was also extended to Harry Belafonte. He, being of sound mind and body, has flatly rejected the invitation.

    I never “accepted” OJ back into the fold, but I didn’t want to see a PHENOTYPICAL CONVICTION of the ORIGINAL JUICE – the one who was born Black and grew up poor in Portero Hill in San Francisco. If he was to be convicted, I wanted the honorary white OJ to be convicted…the one with the blond girlfriends and the Playboy mansion parties and the accoutrements of his “new world.” I wanted the OJ represented by F. Lee Bailey and Robert Shapiro to be convicted – if it came to that…BUT – when Time Magazine decided to darken his image, it was on. There could be no mistaking the psychological, unspoken fuel to the fire – and that was unacceptable.

    He should have been depicted in the look that brought him into “white” homes in the first place…Strong, athletic, attractive, charming, etc…You know – that same clean-shaven, clean cut USC COOKIE CUTTER LOOK that is currently rocked by Lynn Swann, Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen and – damn…some Black folk do look alike. Anyway…

    When Johnny Cochrane became his lead attorney, the case ceased to be about the honorary white…it became, for me, about Johnny Cochrane and his defense of people like Geronimo Pratt…Black people. And the national reaction to the BETRAYAL of an honorary white stepping out with such ingratitude for all the gifts and money and affection and pussy that had been bestowed upon him was unprecedented. That’s not an OJ I could be concerned about. The trial, for me, was about the conviction of his phenotype. The nation, generally speaking, did not seek to convict the OJ they’d converted…they sought to convict the OJ they embraced. The OJ they embraced was on trial – not the one they converted.

    Simply, he is not mine to welcome home. He has another mother and father now – and he will always belong to them.

  14. Sportsdiva Says:

    Your elaboration was on point. I’ve never been able to articulate that same sentiment that’s been in my gut for a while because it did evolve at some point during the whole process. And the feelings surrounding these folks can be so dynamic because you do juxtapose the Portero Hills with the Playboy mansion.

    I totally agree and your last sentence said it best!

    Standing O’ for Harry B!!!!!

  15. Cornelius Says:


    For a player with a minimum one-year suspension, Thurman needed to be in total compliance with every aspect of his treatment plan (drug tests, counciling, meetings with NFL brass in NY at the drop of a hat, etc.). And, even with full compliance he is not guaranteed reinstatement. It is the choice of the commisioner as everyone now knows. Because the NFLPA made a point of having this whole process a secret one, we would never know if he was in compliance or not.

    And, it’s completely wrong for anyone to call for Upshaw or anyone from the PA, because they are the ones who agreed to the Substance Abuse Policy, and any reason why we don’t know if there is a big reason, or if Thurman simply failed to convince Goodell that he was ready for reinstatement.

  16. atlgator88 Says:

    I was recently referred to this site by a friend of mine after complaining about ESPN and sports media in general.

    Great article…I’m hooked already. As steted earlier, I was impressed with this expose by ESPN as well.

    I’m with you….Juan Williams??? Why was he there…

  17. Jweiler,
    You are correct that it can be relatively easy to indict via a grand jury because the prosecutor has the decked stacker in his/her favor (i.e. probable cause not needed, regular evidence rules not followed, broad discretion to subpoena, 4th Amend does not apply, no right to confront accuser by defendant, etc.). Although grand juries are independent, they are guided by the prosecutor and the sitting judge only answers questions or reconciles conflicts. Even if there is reasonable suspicion that Bonds did something wrong, the grand jury could indict but it’s difficult to speculate what’s going on here because grand juries are by design to be completely secretive.

    The fact that it keeps getting extended could be good for Bonds because it means that the grand jury is not swallowing the government’s evidence case. Or, it could mean that Schools finally has the evidence needed to get an indictment. Schools’ term ends October 12th, so a decision should be made before then; unless, the government appoints a new prosecutor.

    By the way, Gene Upshaw and the entire NFLPA front office should be fired for what they have allowed the front office to do. It’s utterly amazing how much they have relinquished players’ rights and power.

  18. Sportsdiva Says:

    It’s the NFL’s own lil private Patriot Act.

  19. Thurman is getting screwed. Plan and simple, he’s getting screwed and because of the other news going on nobody will care. HOw can the commish justify suspending him for two years for a drug violation and DUI when Jared Allen only got two games.? When Merriman only got four games for steroids.? When Kerney has gotten nothing? This is why the NFL sought to be exempt from anti-trust laws, so they could create this monoply and make these decisions. This is effed up.

  20. Juan Williams had no business being anywhere near that program at all. This is a man who sits back and takes the shit Brit Hume and Bill Kristol shove in his face every week on Fox News Sunday, as one of their token “liberals” and token black man.

    T3 – Williams is actually worse than those you mention; he appeals to the label of “moderate”, which makes him more insidious because that translates in pundit-speak to “rational.” He and Dickerson are in the same boat of buppie boomers who got theirs and hate everything that came after them. At least Sowell, Armstrong Williams, and John McWhorter are not dishonest about their political leanings.

    Bryant Gumbel was more correct than I knew at the time about Gene Upshaw with his “leash” remark last year.

  21. Miranda Says:

    Bryant Gumble was damn near prophetic with that “leash” statement……..Upshaw is a joke.

  22. Great post, J. With regards to point #4, and how Bond’s peers feel about him… Dave Zirin in his book tells that story about how at 2001 All-Star game Barry Bonds was calling every pitch the opposing pitcher was throwing, from his spot inside the dugout. He called the pitches as it came out of their hands (“slider away”), and all the other All-Stars gathered around in awe.

    I have no doubt that if the players voted on who gets into the Hall of Fame not only would Barry Bonds make it, but he would demolish Curt Schilling.

  23. jweiler Says:

    I agree with the general sentiments here about Williams, but he did make what was, potentially, the most interesting point of the evening, about good Blacks versus bad Blacks. One of the reasons why we don’t get very far when we talk about race is that, in normal public discourse, there’s an outdated understanding of it. Yes, there is still dyed-in-the-wool racism as straight up skin prejudice. But, nowadays, most Whites would disavow that and point to the fact that they love people in sports such as David Robinson and Tony Dungy. “Good” in this context is, I think, another word for “safe.” Bonds pushes buttons for plenty of reasons, but one of the ways race is a factor in his case is that he is not safe – he’s ornery, uncooperative and all that – and that has extra meaning, I think, because he’s Black.

  24. Cornelius Says:


    You are off on a few things. As of now, Thurman is not suspended for another year. He was not granted reinstatement and that means in 6 months he has another chance.

    You also can’t know for sure that Thurman complied with the Substance Abuse Policy and was indeed as clean as neccessary during his one-year suspension.
    I agree that the NFLPA is a joke and put the players in this situation, and I also agree that Goodell was given too much power by the NFLPA. But why people want to jump in Odell Thurman’s corner, I do not understand. The guy played ONE NFL season and in that time screwed up so royally that he was eligible for the one-year suspension through the Substance Abuse Policy. I’m not entirely sure if that has been done before or not. You generally need at least two and usually three violations to earn that “honor,” or you need to fail while you are already in the program. This guy played ONE year and could never get on the straight and narrow.

    On top of it, we don’t even know if he violated the policy again, because it’s a private matter.

    Goodell is only using the power that the NFLPA gave him. I don’t blame the league on this matter.

  25. jweiler:

    that’s sum bullshit…whether it’s coming from juan williams, chris rock (funny though) or you. this divide and conquer shit is as old as the first justification for slavery. if there were no bad blacks, all (and I mean all) the good blacks would be dead.

    this dichotomy is a mirage. oj used to be a good black when he was bonin’ white women, totin’ the rock for SC and ignoring black people. a little murder and all of a sudden, he’s a bad black. jim brown was a good black when he was winning championships for the Browns, but he was a bad black when he met with other conscious black athletes like Ali and Russell, but he was a good black when he ran over Sam Huff and the New York Giants, but he was a bad black when he left the league at 29, but was a good black when he started making big loot for studios in hollywood, but was a bad black when he was on screen with raquel welch, but was a bad black when he was brought up on charges, but was a bad black when he started working with gangs.

    muhammad ali was a bad black when he was in the nation of islam. kermit washington was a bad black when he broke rudy t.’s face. richard pryor was a good black when he was puttin’ asses in seats. richard pryor was a bad black when he free based and nearly died. richard pryor was a good black when he got multiple sclerosis. muhammad ali was a good black when he got parkinsons.

    this paradigm sucks more ass all the actresses in an A2M movie. juan williams is known for spouting contemptible shit that any goddamn two-year could think through.

    bad blacks have made this goddamn mendacious, crimogenic nation of virulent, self-entitled white supremacists (with guns and law) safe for good blacks – and they are the ones – like the bad indians who paved the foundation for this “democracy” with their blood. good blacks can earn millions of dollars or just a decent salary or relocate out of the hood or run for president because of all those bad blacks. nat turner was a bad black. frederick douglass was a bad black. sojourner truth was a bad black. harriet tubman was a bad black. marcus mosiah garvey was a bad black. mary church terrell was a bad black. and so it goes.

    in the real world, there are black folk who actually care about other black folk and demonstrate that love through service – and there are others. this paradigm is as fictional as the idea that williams could possibly tell the difference between a good black and a bad black.

  26. T3:

    Agreed as to your Post No. 8. In addition, Bonds’ increase in production (leaving aside the physical aspect) can be attributed to another variable as well: Bonds’ approach at the plate. During this time, he started (1) using a lighter bat that was shorter; (2) choking up more on the bat; (3) standing closer to the plate; and (4) wearing protective padding on his right arm so he could stand in longer and not fear injury from an errand inside pitch. These changes, combined with his already freakish hand-eye coordination that allowed him to turn on inside pitches and keep them fair despite standing so near the plate made him simply lethal.

  27. and mr. kent gets some credit too.

  28. T3:
    In regards to your first comment (uh..#3 up there):

    I think it is vastly incorrect to see the phenomenon you’re describing as strictly an anti-black phenomenon (not that you necessarily are characterizing that way). Yes, Whitlock and his ilk are providing a viewpoint that supports a particular agenda (and are being chosen to represent it solely because of skin-color), but the same is true of other issues (see Jane Roe: I think this happens because many media outlets prefer to show the non-stereotypical advocates for a position.

    I presume the reasoning there is that listeners are more likely to take seriously the voice of a person who would be or would have been negatively affected by the philosophy being espoused. I’m certainly not saying this is true, just what appears to occur.

    I know that every issue I care strongly about (environment, poverty, drug use, women’s rights, equal legal standing) is opposed by a spokesperson who stands to lose by adopting the position they are advocating.

    However, I’m not convinced that these people see themselves as sell-outs. I think it is far more likely that they actually believe what they are saying (including Whitlock). As a result, I have a hard time thinking particularly ill of Whitlock or Jane Roe…they simply believe something different than I do and advocate that position as I would if given the chance.

    The cultural forces Whitlock is supporting (tangentially) have existed for thousands of years: From a financial and evolutionary standpoint he’s doing well to promote it (humans are fundamentally conservative socially). Personally, I believe humans can and should move beyond that, but independent thought has never been promoted in any society on earth…I doubt it will ever be otherwise.

    Unfortunately, I just don’t think the phenomenon you’re identifying is, in any way, limited to one particular racial or socioeconomic group.

  29. There could be a great deal of truth to what you’ve said.

  30. jweiler Says:


    I am not endorsing the dichotomy and I don’t think Williams was, either. I agree with you about who has been characterized as a “bad” black, and I agree that the same people are put in different roles depending on the circumstances. My point, which I guess I should have made more clear, is that “good” blacks, that is, safe ones, allow people to imagine that they are not motivated by race when they dislike someone who is African American. You hear this all the time – people saying race has nothing to do with feelings about Bonds, because look how much people like a Dungy or a Robinson. I don’t agree with this way of thinking, but I think it’s been prevalent in American discourse about race over the past several decades.

  31. i knew you weren’t endorsing – i just don’t want juan to have any breathing room.

    your point is absolutely correct. i don’t disagree.

  32. Jfunk said:

    However, I’m not convinced that these people see themselves as sell-outs. I think it is far more likely that they actually believe what they are saying (including Whitlock). As a result, I have a hard time thinking particularly ill of Whitlock or Jane Roe…they simply believe something different than I do and advocate that position as I would if given the chance.

    Good post Jfunk, it has helped me alot.

    ’cause I was beginning to feel like a ‘Clarence’.

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