It's tough to muster sympathy

Updated: March 24, 2005, 11:25 AM ET
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
OK, now I'm mad.

Maybe I'm too wrapped up in the numbers, but I've never been one to harbor "feelings" about a player, one way or the other. Occasionally, after I've written something negative about a particular player's performance or abilities, some fan of that player will write me and ask, "Why do you have something personal against [for example] Darin Erstad? Did he blow you off in an interview or something?"

Fortunately, no. I've been blown off by two players – Dennis Springer and Mark Mulder – and both times I deserved it. And even if I didn't, I wouldn't hold it against them, because talking to jerks with tape recorders must get old in a hurry. I consider myself an imposition, occasionally necessary only for the support of me and my family, and the occasional edification of my readers. So I sympathize with players who don't like talking to reporters, and I'd never hold it against them.

That doesn't mean I have to have neutral feelings toward every player, though. And though I've never been within 50 feet of Barry Bonds, I feel that now, after seeing his brief interview on TV the other day, I know him well enough to dislike him.

As Bonds sat down to talk, a clutch of reporters clustered around him. There was a TV camera there, too. And what Bonds said to the cameraman, before making any statement or answering any question, tells us something fundamental about his psyche.

"Can you show my son in this, too?" he asked, as the cameraman widened his (and our) view. "So you can see … the pain you're causing my whole family?"