Thoughts On Bonds
"Why do I have to be a model for your kid? You be a model for your kid." --Bob Gibson
Though you wouldn't catch me on one of those idiotic rafts in 'McCovey Cove', if I were living in the San Francisco Bay Area and cared about baseball as I do, I would be there to watch Mr. Barry Bonds plow his way toward Hank Aaron's home run record.
Today, I was really, really hoping to be able to write that the Minnesota Twins are the best fourth place team in baseball, and they would were it not for the San Francisco Giants. The Giants, you understand, who play Barry Fucking Bonds, as the Commissioner and many others would like to call him.
Between the homers and the controversy, is there a better story anywhere? Would you stay home?
The Bonds issue baffles me. I don't quite get what it is that makes Barry the poster child of the steroid era. Is it the home run race? His ever-scowling mug? That he obviously did something to bulk up?
Someday I think we'll look back on these episodes and wonder about the mass hysteria, try to analyze what the hell was going on. For instance, why no one questions the vast bulk that Roger Clemens has gained since he was a youth, or how steroids are the perfect tonic for pitchers, what with the drugs' ability to accelerate healing. We hear about Bonds' age and his accomplishments in this time, but has any pitcher of Clemens' age managed such feats? I don't think so. But then again, Clemens isn't about to break a record that so many hold in such high esteem.
Every damned sports magazine and pundit in the country is weighing in on Mr. Barry Bonds, even fools like me. And there's pundits who are even trying to discredit his 73 homer season, like Bill Jenkinson. This genius, back by supposedly 28 years of research, discovered that Babe Ruth, if we applied today's rules and the homer-friendly stadiums, would have hit 104 home runs in 1921.
I didn't read his book (The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs), but I'm certain Mr. Jenkinson points out, in the afterward or in a footnote, that Ruth certainly wouldn't have hit half as many bombs if he had faced the pitchers of today. Which includes many foreign-born hurlers whose skin-color would have excluded them in 1921.
In a recent issue of ESPN Magazine, one of the most simpleminded publications ever to grace the shelves, has some lovely suggestions for Bonds, which everyone knows he won't take. Because he's chasing home runs, he's is the center of attention. They suggest that Bonds just needs to smile, get people to love him, do this, do that. He won't of course, and not only because that would alter his personality as much as drugs have allegedly altered his muscle mass. Bonds has precedent--from Roger Maris to Dick Allen to the aforequoted Bob Gibson to Albert Belle. These guys did what they were paid for and basically told the world to go fuck itself.
Like Hank Aaron before him, and Roger Maris before that, Bonds is tilting at a revered personality. He's threatened with asterisks, the commissioner is being counseled to stay away by a former commissioner, threatened with exclusion from the hall. Bonds is vilified.
Yet we still watch. Which is just as it should be. If you want your baseball heroes clean cut and milk-fed, drug-free and free from any controversy whatsoever, rent Pride of the Yankees. You deserve it.