Friday, November 16, 2007
Barry Bonds is...Frank Costello
Costigan: "As for running drugs, what the f--k are you doing, what are you doing? You don't need the money or the pain in the ass, and they will catch you."
Costello: "I haven't needed the money since I took Archie's milk money in the third grade. Tell you the truth, I don't need p---y anymore either. But I like it."
That's dialogue from The Departed, Marty Scorcese's 2006 Oscar-winner for Best Picture. Young Billy Costigan (played by Leo Dicaprio) is an undercover cop sent to infiltrate the Boston mafia and bring down the aging Don, Frank Costello (named after the New York mob boss of the 50's and 60's but based on Irish mobster Whitey Bulger, currently second on the FBI's most wanted list behind Osama Bin Laden, and portrayed by the legendary Jack Nicholson). It's my favorite part of the movie because it gives insight into the mind of a madman: Costello is 70 years old and has made enough money to retire to Florida and kick his feet up for the rest of his life; only with him, it's not about the money and never really was. He's just a thug at heart, a career crook, and he lives to take part in criminal activity. It's his passion, his pleasure. He was never gonna stop, no matter how much money he accumulated. As Tom Sizemore's character (also financially set for life) said in Heat before the classic bank robbery and subsequent shootout scene, "For me, the action is the juice." And so it was with Costello. And in the end, they caught him.
Isn't that the Bonds saga in a nutshell? Before he is believed to have begun doping, before the start of the 1999 season, he had already totaled 441 jacks, 445 bags, three MVP's and eight gold gloves. At 33, he was a Hall-of-Fame lock. One of the very best all-around players EVER, his resume nearly unmatchable and at the time untarnished. But like Costello's desire to cheat and still and kill and all of the other things gangster's do, Bonds had a fatal flaw that would lead to his downfall: jealousy. First it was for his friend Griffey, then for Mac and Sosa. Bonds considered himself the best player in the game, and rightfully so, but Junior got more attention. That was one thing; at least Junior was clean. But then McGwire and Sosa take off the race for Maris' record, and they start overshadowing Bonds too, only it's obvious to him they're using the juice, so he decides, "F--k this, I'ma get on a little cycle of my own," and it turns him into the modern-day Babe Ruth, to the point that he ends up breaking the all-time home run record. Only he's doing it at a point in his career when even the best athletes have started their decline, and it doesn't help that he looks like Hercules now, so the suspicion begins to arise...and arise...and arise...plus he's Barry Bonds, so you know he's gonna get the most attention, so he becomes The Target, The Gotti, The Capone, and then a book comes out with details and stories, and it doesn't help that nobody likes him because he's been such a jerk his entire career, so it becomes a witch hunt in which no one is willing to give him the benefit of a doubt, and it becomes commonly accepted that he cheated, and now he's about to break Aaron's record and taint the game's most hallowed mark, and now it's just a raging volcano, and yesterday, it finally erupted.
"...they will catch you."
They caught him.
Now he's looking at 30 years at the most, a forever tarnished legacy at the least, for cheating and lying about it. Costello ended up getting killed by his mole in the state police department, Collin Sullivan (played by Matt Damon), after a tense confrontation brought about by Sullivan's discovery that Costello had been cooperating with the FBI - so that they would allow him to continue his life as a criminal, of course. But for the purpose of this post, the details of their comeuppance don't matter as much as the primary reason for their downfall:
The refusal to leave well enough alone.