Costas was just on MLB Tonight, on the MLB Network, to discuss the fallout of the Barry Bonds ruling. The words coming out of his mouth felt like he has been secretly listening into my inner-most thoughts. I felt he was absolutely spot on. Here's the transcript of what he said:
Is there any real reasonable doubt that Barry Bonds used steroids, used them in copious quantities, and that a man as intelligent and aware as Barry Bonds, as meticulous about every aspect of his training and nutrition didn't know exactly what was being administered to him, exactly what was happening every step of the way? What planet do you have to be on, forget about planet, what solar system do you have to live in, to believe anything other than that?
Having said that though, I think that people get off on the wrong track when they talk about criminality or morality about this issue. I think it would have been excessive for Barry Bonds to go to jail. I guess perhaps he faces that now, unless he wins on appeal, having been found guilty on the one count, but I think it's absurd for Barry Bonds to go to jail.
I think it's also absurd when people talk about morality. Hundreds and hundreds of guys used steroids during that era. Some of them are among the nicest guys, in many respects, that any of us will ever encounter. And who could say, really? Who could say with a straight face that Barry Bonds was a lesser human being than Ty Cobb? That makes no sense.
But what we can say is, on the question of authenticity, that's where we should focus. Not on criminality or morality. Authenticity. And the authenticity of Barry Bonds' late career achievements is not to be respected. 73 is not an authentic number. 762 is not an authentic number. Mark McGwire's numbers are not authentic. Sammy Sosa's numbers are not authentic. The authentic single season home run champion is Roger Maris. The authentic career home run king is Hank Aaron.
You would have to believe that the Earth is flat to believe anything other than that. People will come up with any rationale they want to come up with, spin it anyway they want, there are probably still some Barry Bonds apologists out there that will say, "You see? This proves that he didn't do steroids, or he didn't do much." Nonsense. Just look at the numbers. Barry Bonds was in the major leagues for many years before he started using steroids. He was already an undisputed first ballot Hall of Famer, one of the very best players of all time. And then, he went to a place that neither he, nor any other player who's ever lived, has ever been. He wasn't just enhanced by steroid use, he was transformed. His numbers took a quantum leap into a video game category. Anybody who thinks otherwise is deranged.
Having heard what I just said, you may be surprised to hear me say this, but unlike some people, Tom Verducci for example, and I certainly respect Tom's knowledge and opinion, he's kind of an absolutist on this. Tom says that if he has reason to believe that you ever used steroids, no matter your career achievements, he wouldn't vote for you, and I understand many voters feel the same way. I think it's possible to separate some of these guys. I would not vote for Sosa, I would not vote for McGwire, I would not vote for Palmiero, I might not even vote for Manny Ramirez. But I believe that Barry Bonds, or Roger Clemens, had already established clear Hall of Fame credentials before there's any evidence that they began using steroids. You could make a case that you could withhold a vote for them the first year, the second year, kind of as a protest, but that ultimately you might vote for them for the Hall of Fame. In a slightly different scenario, the same thing might be true of Alex Rodriguez.
I could understand tempering justice with mercy in some of these cases. There's no doubt that Barry Bonds, on his true natural merits, was one of the very best players who ever lived. And there's also no doubt he, you know, went to another place through the use of steroids, and that place was not authentic.
Wow. Excuse me while I grab a towel, because my brain just got f***ed by Bob Costas. Truer words have never been spoken. I just hope that in the coming years, more writers who have HoF votes begin to see things as Costas does.