Part of being a sports fan is making internal deals with yourself. Sure, you might despise, say, Charles Oakley when he's on the other team, but when he's on your team, he's indispensable and the guy you scream for. No matter what he has done in the past, no matter how much he has hurt your team or made you want stab him in the eye with a broken beer bottle, once he's wearing your colors, not only is all forgiven, all is forgotten. He once played for another team? You can call this hypocritical, but it's really as logical as anything else we do as sports fans, which is to say, it's not all that logical at all.
But talk about the ultimate test: It appears our beloved (and defending champion: Woo!) Cardinals are considering making a run at Barry Bonds. To be honest, this was something we had in the back of our mind before word got out that Tony LaRussa wanted to "speak" with the slugger; the Cardinals could use another power bat in the outfield, and LaRussa historically has had few moral qualms with steroid guys on his team. (Though we wonder: As a vegetarian, does he have a problem with Bonds using cattle steroids?) The notion of a Pujols-Bonds one-two punch is, theoretically, terrifying, in pretty much every conventional use of the term.
It's all preliminary, of course, and it still seems unlikely Bonds will be anywhere but San Francisco next year. But the questions remains: Could we root for a rather blatant asshole like Bonds, particularly when almost no one — including us — wants him to break Hank Aaron's record next year? After years of going after the guy, could we suddenly switch?
We prefer to think of it as compartmentalizing our brain. In the real world, where human beings peacefully co-exist in an atmosphere of common humility and concern for the collective welfare of all humanity, we would hate Bonds and would find it difficult not to cringe when we see his picture on screen. Fortunately, we have a feeling that we would feel that way about a majority of athletes if we met them in real life; they are not like you and I, after all. Could we make that transformation into a Bonds fan if he were wearing the Cardinals red? With the bases loaded, and Bonds up in the ninth inning, with the Cards down two to the Cubs, in August ... yeah, we could probably make that transformation. We wouldn't feel good about ourselves ... but we could. We accept your scorn. We deserve it.
St. Louis Expresses Interest In Bonds [San Jose Mercury News]
(Photo by Bryan Leitch, by the way.)