Tagged: Barry Bonds

756 From The Stands

OK, so this guy and his cell phone video camera probably won’t win a Pulitzer, but it’s still interesting to see it from the left field bleachers and the unmistakable energy of a fan.

An Open Letter to Henry Aaron

Dear Mr. Aaron,

When I was two months old, you drove a pitch from Al Downing into left field to pass Babe Ruth and become the all-time career home run leader.  I’ve always been happy that this event happened in my lifetime, but it has been bittersweet for most of my life, as I was not old enough to sit up on my own, much less appreciate the history made on that April evening.  And, for most of my life, I figured the only way I was ever going to see the home run record broken was by watching the replay of your 715th.

I thought that the game of my lifetime wasn’t conducive to producing a home run career like yours.  I thought it would stand for all time.

And then, Barry Bonds started to approach it.  For three or four seasons, I eagerly anticipated the moment where your record would be brought before the public as a testament of your greatness as a ballplayer and as a man, and you would pass the torch to a new generation, a new man, a new home run king.

In the months leading up to last night, your refusal to discuss the impending passing of your record rang hollow, seeming more "bitter" than "sweet."  I understood your reticence to discuss the topic and be there when your record was passed, but felt that maybe all the class you had shown in 1974 had faded a bit.

And then, last night, Barry Bonds hit home run number 756.

As the ball left his bat and went screaming into the right field stands, I jumped and shouted.  I had seen something I never expected to see:  A new home run leader.  As he trotted about the bases, I thought that is was a shame that so many people in baseball, the press, and in front of their televisions across the country were doing so much to temper what should have been the greatest night in baseball in the last thirty years.

And then, as Barry Bonds crossed home plate, thanked his God and his dad and hugged his son, your message came across the screen at AT&T Park.

You had no half-hearted words of encouragement in the face of "innocent until proven guilty."  You showed us all that it is not the man that matters, it is the accomplishment we should be celebrating.

Many, many people dropped the ball on this one.  But you showed us why you are the home run king.  You showed us class, Mr. Aaron, something that has been missing on all sides of this pursuit.

Thank you.

Screw Bud Selig – I’m Cheering for Barry

Excuse the title, but you’ll see why in a second.

There’s a new blog here that made the front page of MLBlogs with its first post (yes, I’m jealous), and for good reason:  He’s the writer is in the minority and is cheering for Barry.  Check it out at http://screweverybody.mlblogs.com/

The actual tagline of the site he links is "Screw Everybody – I Like Bonds."  I’m not on that bandwagon, as I don’t think I like the man.  But then, I’ve never been invited to dinner at his house, so I just don’t know.  I can’t judge a man’s personality without meeting him, and just because he’s a jerk to the media doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.

But for this guy, I’m going to repost a blog entry I wrote more than a year ago over on my myspace page (yes, I’m ashamed to admit I have one of those), but I will reprint it here. (Of course, some language has been edited).

Friday, April 14, 2006

 

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack

Alright, time to put on our imagination helmets.  Prime your brain, and get ready to enter imagination land!

Are
you ready?  Sitting in a nice, soothing place?  Alright, you’re in
front of your computer, so strike that.  Have you done your meditation
exercises to slow your breathing and heart rate into a state of ohm?
Good.

Now, with that, imagine you’re a NASCAR driver.  Not just
one of the many, but one of the best to ever sit behind the wheel.  Of
course you’re a white male with a mustache and hero to millions of
people with a Toby Keith CD lodged in their dashboard.  Collectible
plates adorn your face, your signature gets good money on eBay, and you
have to shoo sponsors away with a broom.  In the land of Dixie, you are
right up there with Robert E. Lee.

Your career has been
stellar.  You’ve won at Daytona multiple times in your career, though
never won the Winston/Nextel Cup, something that you desperately want
to do.

Now, as I said previously, in the South you have a huge
fan base.  But NASCAR has exploded across the country in an unimagined
way the last few years, and you just haven’t caught on with the new
fans.  You’re a bit surly, and the media has never really been your
friend, so fans in other parts of the country have gravitated toward
faces like Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr.

You realize that
you’re getting on toward the end of your career, and these other
drivers are getting all the press.  The public loves them, though you
know you are a better driver than they are.  There’s nothing they can
do that you can’t on a racetrack.

Then, one day, you learn something very interesting.

A
few years back an automotive engineer invented a new type of fuel
injector that increases the oxygen to fuel ratio, leading to increased
fuel efficiency and higher speeds.

And these new guys are using it.

You
check around and lo and behold, NASCAR knows about it, but it isn’t
banned.  Why?  Because faster cars put more meat in seats.  Not
everybody is using it, and you can still win without it, because no
matter what the advantage under the hood it still takes a talented
driver to control the car at those speeds for that distance.

The
downside is it’s dangerous.  People in this sport and others have died
young because of it.  But this is a game of winners, and those not
willing to take risks don’t stay in the Nextel series very long.

Do you use it?   Of course you do.

Are you a cheater?  Let Dictionary.com answer that.

Cheater: To violate rules deliberately, as in a game.

In other words, if it ain’t against the rules, it ain’t cheating.

Say
what you will about Barry Bonds, but you know as much about him as I
do.  Which is to say that you know a lot less than you think you do.

Let’s
start with this steroids thing.  At this point, I’m gonna assume that
Bonds used them, though we have to remember that it has not been
proven.  But if he did, we have to remember that, at the period he used
them, they were NOT outlawed by Major League Baseball.  Bonds has NEVER
tested positive for steroids like Raphael Palmiero, which means that it
cannot be proved that he used them after the ban and testing was put
into place.  Therefore, every single statistic Bonds has in his career
is absolutely legitimate according to the rules of baseball.

Some
will argue that regardless of the MLB’s stance on steroids, they’re
still an illegal drug.  I say if you’re gonna nitpick with that
argument,  let he without sin cast the first stone.  Especially since
Major League Baseball turned a blind eye to amphetimines until last year, because it’s incredibly hard to naturally get up for 162
games a year.  Mike Schmidt writes in his new book about the
availability of Benzedrine in the clubhouses when he played.  How many
of your heroes played on speed?  Do you really care?

Of course,
there’s the "Bonds is a jerk" argument.  But again, what do you
really know about the guy that hasn’t come from the media?  I worked
for years in sports collectibles.  I was an autograph hound until I
turned 18 and got a stick up my butt about kowtowing to someone younger
than I, calling him "Sir" when I asked for his signature (a decision
that karmically came back to me when I joined the Army at 26 and had
officers barely old enough to buy cigarettes).  I’ve heard stories of sports’
biggest jerks being the nicest guys in person, and the so-called
"nice guys" being complete douchebags.

But these are momentary
glimpses and interactions with lives much broader than the momentary
handshake or autograph request most people get in their time with a
celebrity.  Would you want to be judged by a near instantaneous
interaction with somebody?  Suppose you’re having a bad day.  Or,
suppose your autograph is worth a LOT of money, and you know that 90%
of the people asking for yours will just turn around and put it on
eBay, making money off you.

When it comes down to it, Bonds may
be a jerk.  But it’s not his job to be Mr. Nice Guy.  It’s his job
to play baseball, and to do it to the best of his ability.  When it
comes down to it, a baseball player has to hit a round ball with a
round bat, the hardest thing to do in all of sports.  And no amount of
steroid or HGH or "clear and cream" will help with that.

This is
an issue where we have to step back and take a look at the bigger
picture.  And while you’re doing that, ask yourself this question and
try to answer it honestly:

If this were Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa, the two guys who "saved baseball" in 1998, two of the nice guys,
chasing Ruth and Aaron, would your attitude be any different?  Even if
the steroid shadow were following them, would you see this in a
different light?

I think most of us would.

You don’t have
to like Barry Bonds.  That’s not your job.  You can have whatever
opinion about him you want.  But if you want to pin this whole scandal
on somebody, if you want to lay blame, I think it’s time we place it
right where it belongs.

On Bud Selig’s doorstep.

Major
League Baseball ignored steroids for years because stronger player hit
longer balls, and home runs put fans in the seats.  Baseball owners
grew fat and rich off their juiced players, and it took the Federal Government to get them to budge off their bloated ***** to
finally do something about it.  And now, they’re letting Barry Bonds be
their fall guy, take the blame for the blind eye they turned for years.

I
will be cheering Barry, because even without the last seven seasons
he’s still the best player I have ever seen.  And I hope he hits home
run #756 so I can see Bud Selig squirm like the snake he is.  I
want to see how he deals with these idiots demanding an "asterisk" by
the record, and see how that’ll lead to a witch hunt of McCarthian
preportions, trying to find out who was on steroids and who wasn’t,
which records should stand or be noted with a "*" and which shouldn’t.

And I want to see this knowing that Bud Selig is responsible for it all.

Sidenote:
Of course there’s the perjury thing, which just hit today.  The grand
jury is reportedly looking into whether or not Bonds lied under oath.
This, of course, is very serious and a potential problem for Bonds.
But remember that it’s a legal problem, not a baseball problem, if he
is indicted and found guilty.  It goes back once again to the period of
abuse.  If he used them when they were legal in baseball, he didn’t
cheat.  He just took advantage of Major League Baseball’s head in the
sand.  And remember, it’s extremely hard to prove perjury.

You don’t have to agree with me on any of this, but I hope it gets you to at least look at it from a different angle.