MARCH 2, 2004
Rash To Tar & Feather BALCO Boys?
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (according to information given to federal investigators) that current pro-baseball players Barry Bonds, Marvin Benard, Jason Giambi, Benito Santiago and Gary Sheffield received performance enhancing drugs from Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson - who received them from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO).  Retired player Randy Velarde was also mentioned in the report as receiving enhancers from Anderson.  

Bonds, Giambi and Sheffield have been the focus of conjecture throughout this Spring Training with respect to whether or not they were guilty of using illegal performance enhancing drugs.

This latest news, for some, will serve as oxygen to the flames of the speculation.  However, for others, this news is sufficient evidence to conclude their findings.

In the case of the latter, what will this mean for the players?  Rather than to make presumptions about the professional or legal ramifications, where so much is still a contingency, the attention here will be the impact on the players involved in terms of their life at the ballpark – specifically, the fan reaction.

The reception in their home parks will most likely be mixed.  Certain home fans will always “stand by their man” no matter what shadow may be cast upon them.  Other home fans may elect to turn their backs on the players to demonstrate their disapproval of the use of enhancers.

But, what reaction should these players expect while playing in road games?  Think about that for a minute.  

When Jason Giambi or Gary Sheffield, as members of the New York Yankees, make their first trip to Fenway Park this season, and each takes their turn stepping into the batter’s box, what do you think they will hear?

When the Giants' Barry Bonds has his first 2004 at bat as a visitor in Dodger Stadium, what will be the crowd reaction?

Even without this latest news, these players would ordinarily be jeered in these spots.  Now, on top of the usual reception, they should fully expect to hear the singsong chants of…………

Steeeer-riods, Steeeer-riods, Steeeer-riods………….

In the majority of their road games, the headliners in the BALCO bunch should expect to get an earful (and then some).  Is it fair?  In baseball, fair is often dependent on which side of the fence you live.  Therefore, there is no definitive answer to that question.

However, there is another question that comes to mind on this – is it wise for fans to react to these players in such a manner?  The scrawling on this scorecard says it could be somewhat risky.

The BALCO incident may very well be just one stop on the tracks of the Doping Discovery Express.  If other stops are made (meaning other distributors are busted), more players will step off the train and will join Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield, et al.  One of these players may just turn out to be your personal hometown hardball hero.  The odds of this happening are better than those of it not happening.  And, if this does happen in your town, as an added bonus, all fans in attendance age 14 or older will receive a free glass house in which to reside, compliments of the “What Goes Around Comes Around” Corporation. (Discretionary throwing stones not included.)

Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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