Barry Bonds Fan Club Getting A Little Jealous Of McGwire AcceptanceS

As baseball's prodigal son returns to the St. Louis bench, some in San Francisco are wondering why their own disgraced steroid user wouldn't be welcomed back with open arms.

John Shea in the San Francisco Chronicle doesn't quite excoriate baseball people for not being harder on McGwire, but he does take them to task for (hypothetically) not rolling out the same red carpet for Bonds, should he return to the game.

[I]magine Barry Bonds wanting to return to the game.

I asked Commissioner Bud Selig for his view on McGwire, and Selig, in favor of the former first baseman's return to the game, said, "He's handled himself very well."

A follow-up question: "Would you have the same feeling about Bonds if he tried to return?"

Selig: "Oh, I'm not going to get into that. Every situation is unique."

Well, they are. In this case, Shea argues, the difference is that McGwire's home run tear was good for baseball, while the BALCO scandal wasn't. Excellent point. He also opines that since Bonds broke Hank Aaron's record, and Aaron is good buddies with Selig, the commish has a personal vendetta. Not as excellent a point.

It's a fallacy to write that McGwire's gotten a particularly warm reception upon his return. But there's three very good reasons why the media might not take as kindly to Bonds in a similar situation. First, McGwire's admitted to using PEDs. Second, he didn't commit any crimes when lying about taking them. Third, the media actually like him as a human being.

Before you accuse me of blaming an entire fanbase for the crimes of a single columnist, take a look in the comments section: half of the readers maintain that there's no evidence Bonds took steroids at all. Shea is preaching to a choir that's drowning out the real world with the same tired song.

McGwire, Bonds deserve same reactions [SF Chronicle]