Asterisk: Home Runs, Steroids, and the Rush to Judgement

by David Ezra, Mike Schmidt

Published: March 2008
Publisher: Triumph Books
Pages: 256
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781600780622

       

Overview of Asterisk: Home Runs, Steroids, and the Rush to Judgement

Baseball is facing a crisis as it is riddled with accusations of steroid and drug abuse, testing, and debates about whether or not records will need to include an asterisk. In attorney David Ezra's new book Asterisk, he explores the public trials of the baseball community and debates questions such as Are accusations of steroid use justified? Or do today's well-trained players, whose teams play in newly constructed ballparks, shatter records because the game has changed?

Synopsis of Asterisk: Home Runs, Steroids, and the Rush to Judgement

Is it too late? Have rampant accusations of widespread steroid use ruined sports? From Lance Armstrong to Marion Jones, from Shawne "Lights Out" Merrriman to Mark McGwire, the amazing accomplishments athletes have worked so hard to achieve have been diminished by relentless and repeated-but often unsubstantiated-accusations of "juicing. Asterisk confronts these issues head on, separating fact from fiction and inviting us to take a second look at the issue of steroids and the accomplishments of our greatest athletes.

Mike Stadler - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Asterisk" suggests that fans should be able to respect Bonds' talent if they consider it fairly. Before the 1998-1999 offseason, which is when Bonds supposedly began using performance-enhancers, he was clearly one of the best hitters to ever play the game. Ezra recounts plenty of statistics and some awe-inspiring anecdotes to convince a fair-minded fan that Bonds has great natural talent, an unparalleled work ethic and a genius' understanding of baseball. Of course, many baseball fans already grant this at the same time that we wonder: Given all that talent, why turn to steroids? If you are willing to accept Ezra's presentation and interpretation of the evidence as accurate, then there is a good chance you will finish the book with some doubts about whether Bonds really did, in fact, turn to performance-enhancing drugs. Ezra assails everything from the motives of the government agents working the case to the character of Bonds' former girlfriend, a key witness, to the ideas that Bonds' size and statistics are evidence of performance-enhancing drugs. Taken at face value, Ezra's counterarguments are effective.

About the Author, David Ezra

David Ezra received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Southern California, where he was an editor of the Southern California Law Review and graduated Order of the Coif. He has frequently published on topics involving the intersection of law and health. He lives in Huntington Beach, California. Mike Schmidt is a Hall of Fame third baseman who played for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Editorials

Booklist

Despite setting a new career home run record in 2007, Barry Bonds has been reviled by fans and baseball insiders for using steroids. Numerous books have attacked Bonds for his assumed transgressions, but here the San Francisco Giant slugger finds a defender. Ezra argues that Bonds' abrasive personality has resulted in a classic rush to judgment. Because nobody likes Barry, everyone is upset about him displacing the revered Hank Aaron in the record book. But the only evidence of Bonds' steroid use is circumstantial. The Bad Barry camp says Bonds is bigger than he used to be. Ezra says fine, but that doesn't prove steroid use. He counters with testimony from those who observed Bonds' brutal work-out and off-season training regimen. Detractors say no athlete has ever improved as much as Bonds during what should have been the twilight of his career. Ezra agrees but doesn't see the irrefutable causal relationship to steroid abuse. Until there is a "smoking needle," the argument goes, Bonds has been convicted in the court of public opinion for all the wrong reasons. Many will disagree with Ezra's conclusions, but he presents his position thoughtfully in what is a care-fully researched book.
—Wes Lukowsky

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Asterisk" suggests that fans should be able to respect Bonds' talent if they consider it fairly. Before the 1998-1999 offseason, which is when Bonds supposedly began using performance-enhancers, he was clearly one of the best hitters to ever play the game. Ezra recounts plenty of statistics and some awe-inspiring anecdotes to convince a fair-minded fan that Bonds has great natural talent, an unparalleled work ethic and a genius' understanding of baseball. Of course, many baseball fans already grant this at the same time that we wonder: Given all that talent, why turn to steroids? If you are willing to accept Ezra's presentation and interpretation of the evidence as accurate, then there is a good chance you will finish the book with some doubts about whether Bonds really did, in fact, turn to performance-enhancing drugs. Ezra assails everything from the motives of the government agents working the case to the character of Bonds' former girlfriend, a key witness, to the ideas that Bonds' size and statistics are evidence of performance-enhancing drugs. Taken at face value, Ezra's counterarguments are effective.
—Mike Stadler

Publishers Weekly

Attorney Ezra' s first book takes up the case of defending newly crowned home-run leader Barry Bonds in the court of public opinion against accusations of steroid usage. Like a high-priced defense attorney explaining the evidence before a jury, Ezra exhausts every angle in excessive detail. Throughout the book he makes the dubious claim that Bonds is the hardest working baseball player in the history of the game. Ezra's tedious arguments reach agonizing levels of inanity. For exhibit one, this is his banana split–to–steroids analogy: Eating banana splits is a great way to gain weight. But if you see a heavy person, you do not have proof that the heavy person eats a lot of banana splits. In fact, the heavy person may not even eat bananas.... Ultimately, readers who make it to the end of Ezra's defense of Bonds will feel like a juror who has been sequestered for six months in a cheap motel—desperately anxious to be excused from the trial. (11/19/07)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Library Journal

This is fundamentally a defense of Barry Bonds. Ezra challenges the ready assumption that Bonds became the all-time home-run champ through the use of illicit drugs. Undaunted by the star's almost wholly abrasive personality, he refutes countless "half-truths, speculation, innuendo," etc., pointing to Bonds's innate skills, unprecedented work ethic, and unsurpassed baseball knowledge. Bonds's fans may appreciate this more than others. For public libraries.

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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