Rev. Jackson, Barry Bonds, and the Turkey Baster

Not that anyone cares, but Reverend Jesse Jackson — whose career high point to me is still his 1984 guest-hosting stint on SNL (remember “The Question Is Moot”?) has given his unsolicited opinion again on something that he has no immediate association with — this time the Barry Bonds/syringe-tossing incident at Petco Park during Opening Day.

On Monday, following the eighth inning of the San Francisco Giants’ road loss to the San Diego Padres, a fan threw what appeared to be a syringe at the embattled Bonds. The object did not hit him, and Bonds disgustingly carried it off the field. Security officials at San Diego’s Petco Park remarked that approximately a dozen other similar objects were confiscated from fans attending Monday’s game. Several other fans held aloft signs critical of Bonds and his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Despite apologies from Padre officials and the discovery that the object was simply a toy and no larger or harmful that a turkey baster, the Rev. Jackson saw an opportunity to get his name in the papers, calling for the fan’s arrest and a complete investigation of the incident. Noting that Bonds is creeping closer to Babe Ruth’s home run total, Jackson also compared Bonds’s treatment by the fans to that of Hank Aaron’s when Aaron was himself closing in on Ruth’s HR record of 715.

Now while I certainly do not condone throwing objects at professional athletes while they’re earning their living, Jackson’s comments are far more offensive than some idiot’s fan’s dumb idea of a joke. Hank Aaron was a class act, a man who performed at an amazing level while being the target of unspeakable hatred and racism by those who for some reason felt that only white players should hold major league baseball records. Bonds is one of the least-liked figures in pro sports history, an insufferable, humorless egomaniac whose admittedly impressive legacy will forever be tarnished by the increasingly believable allegations that he has been playing baseball for several years under a steroid haze. He is not targeted for ridicule because he is black, as the Rev. Jackson alleges. He is targeted for ridicule because he is a jerk.

The Rev. Jackson’s call to arms to protect a spoiled superstar from almost being hit by turkey basters threaten to diminish the memory of the real racism faced by one of America’s true sports heroes. Jackson should leave the Bonds story alone and go back to sketch comedy. Judging by the last time I watched, Saturday Night Live could use him.


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