Monday, July 30, 2007

You're probably not going to like this post...

Sometime within the next few days, Barry Lamar Bonds will tie and then break the all-time Major League Baseball home-run record of 755, held since 1974 by Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves.

When that occurs, most baseball fans who live outside San Francisco (where Bonds has plied his trade since 1993) will scream bloody murder that Bonds' record should be taken away from him, because HE CHEATED.

To which I respectfully reply, so what?  The hallowed halls of Cooperstown are FILLED with people who are alleged to have used corked bats, amphetamines, thrown illegal pitches like spitballs, or alleged to have used other means to scuff up baseballs.  Hell, it's even been insinuated that the spectacular 1951 stretch run of the New York Giants that led to the playoff and the Bobby Thomson homer that won the pennant was the result of illegal sign-stealing by Giants personnel using binoculars.

As they say, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'!  So, do NOT whine to me that Barry Bonds should be hated because he CHEATED, because it insults my intelligence and makes me angry.

On the other hand.......

Barry Bonds, unlike Hank Aaron, grew as the son of a good-but-could-have-been-greater ballplayer named Bobby Bonds in relative wealth in the Bay Area.  He went to good schools, and was awarded a scholarship at Arizona State University, long thought of as a GREAT baseball school.

Unlike Aaron, who had to play in the Negro Leagues before he was signed by the Braves, Bonds, while talented enough to win three NL MVP awards by 1994, has, by all accounts, treated everyone not named Bonds like a piece of shit.  His teammates, for the most part, barely tolerate him because of his self-absorption and his whining.  He is, in short, the LAST player you would want to break this historic record and the LAST person you want as the public face of Major League Baseball.

The fact remains, however, that, even if EVERYTHING in the book, GAME OF SHADOWS, is true, Barry Bonds would NOT have used if it had not been for the fact that MLB executives, the MLB Players Association, and the media turned a blind eye to the fact that stars like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were apparently using performance-enhancing drugs, and breaking the single-season homer record while doing it.  Hell it wasn't even ILLEGAL in MLB in the late 90s. 

If no one in MLB cared then, why make the fuss now?

Because Bonds is widely perceived to be an asshole, that's why.  Too bad, folks, he may well be all of that and more, but ask yourself this question: If it was THAT important to you, why didn't you as questions in 1998, when media-friendly McGwire and Sosa were in the homer race?  

BECAUSE YOU LIKED THEM, THAT'S WHY.

See, I understand that Barry is hardly anyone's ideal as a human being, and I can understand those who grew up idolizing Hank Aaron (justifiably so, I might add) might be pissed off that this punk is going to break the record.  From an intellectual standpoint, it's more honest not to want the record broken from THAT line of reason than the whines that Bonds is a cheater.  That, I understand.

Two things: First, I have outlined why the cheating line falls on deaf ears here.  Second, as Bonds himself has acknowledged, he won't have the record for 33 years as Aaron has, as Alex Rodriguez, at the tender age of 32, is about to hit his 500th homer in the next day or so. Barring injury, it's not a stretch to think that A-Rod will pass Bonds in the next 6-7 years.  If that happens, good for everyone.

Finally, my point is this: it's OK to hate Barry for being a prick and a punk, just don't insult any of us by calling him a cheater.

He wasn't the first, and he sure as hell won't be the last.

17 comments:

Save This MG said...

This is exactly why I no longer watch or support professional sports and very little college sports. They cheat. They lie. And they're the biggest bunch of spoiled babies I've every seen.

You can have 'em.

autoegocrat said...

I guess I'm just going to make you angry.

Barry Bonds a cheater, I don't give a hot damn about his personality, and I think he should have both his arms broken off and Bud Selig should be beaten with the bloody stumps for ruining baseball.

If we aren't supposed to hate cheaters anymore, then why don't we just become Republicans?

leftwingcarolinablue said...

My first reaction was to revisit our never-ending argument in terms of what I--along with others presumably--have said that somehow "insults (your) intelligence." But I'll pass on that as it will do no good and, as you realize, excusing Bonds for "doing what (a whole lot of others) did" is essentially the same as believing that under some conditions and circumstances, 2+2 can equal 5, 7, 0 or whatever the Powers that be wish for it to equal. It's a world that since nothing is, anything goes. Postmodernism running the asylum, promoting itself as breaking barriers, eliminating binaries and seeking "justice" while, in actuality, doing nothing but providing another unintentioned means to seek and abuse power.

I did not grow up exactly, in your words, worshiping Mr. Aaron, but he was one of my early childhood "heroes." So were Muhammad Ali, Alan Page (I guess I didn't care if he went to that Indiana school), Arnold Palmer and Dean Smith. In my late thirties, I liked Mark McGwire, not so much for his home run hitting, but his apparently social minded decency, especially as it regarded abused and abandoned children. I did not, however, have the revulsion that many in St. Louis seemed to have after his Congressional not-testimony. Whether he makes the Hall of Fame, I don't know. As I've said, I think Sammy "I Can't Remember English" Sosa should have to wait a year and then be elected. Gaylord Perry was, of course, a cheater and "spit" his way into Cooperstown. He did not,however, threaten to break Cy Young's legitimately earned all-times win record. Pete Rose was properly banned and will--apparently--never see the Hall except as a tourist. He was, in your words about Bonds, a prick as well and his sins came with consequences. That can say something, as you rightly point out, about the complicity of Bud "Deaf Eye and Blind Ear" Selig as well as Donald "No Concessions, Not One Inch Back at Stalingrad" Fehr who all but certainly knew what was happening with Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro and--among presumably others--Sosa, only to do nothing.
None of those players, however, cheated their way toward probably the most important record in baseball. As you say, Bonds is doing it for spite, whining and not feeling "appreciated." That's the garbage here, not those of us who wish that the our childhood game meant something even similar now to what it did then. Sentimental, of course: memories of Aaron, Mays, Clemente hitting, running and throwing as well as Brooks Robinson defeating the Reds all by himself: yep. But, in Ryne Sandberg's words, "it was played the right way." I doubt it will ever be so--more or less-- "right again." That's the sad part and why, in essence, I scan the standings and watch as little as possible outside the World Series. Well, I seem to have focused on Barry and your intelligence after all. My apologies for any offense tendered--to you.

Memphis Blood Supply '07 said...

I have a tough time following your line of thinking here, LWC. Would seem to me that you're saying that cheating is permissible, as long as everybody's doing it. You posit as "fact" that Barry Bonds was somehow coerced into using steroids by the do-nothing attitudes of the MLB during the McGwire/Sosa homerun chase. I doubt that. While the MLB's policies (or lack of same) may have somewhat created a culture in which this sort of behavior was more common and frequent, it was, and has always, been Bonds' decision to do whatever he chose to do. If and when he did use steroids, he is by no means a victim of his own poor choices.

With regards to personality, you are absolutely right that McGwire and Sosa's aw-shucks personas may have helped them avoid closer scrutiny by members of the public or the media that didn't want to see what they simply didn't want to see. But again, if Barry has acted like an arrogant, race-baiting, prima donna has brought the scorn of the whole world down on him, he has no one to blame but himself.

But to your original point--we should note hold players, coaches, or officials to the lowest possible standards of conduct, off or on the field. It is NOT too much to ask that each and every person who draws an MLB paycheck behave lawfully, ethically, and dare I say it, graciously to the fans, media, fellow players, managers, etc. Those who do become our heroes.

Memphis Blood Supply '07 said...

PS, go White Sox.

TN420 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TN420 said...

What's really silly is that Bonds would be a great athlete without juice. So why he saw fit to go that route is beyond me.

I know that pitchers are faster than they were when Hank played, but not that much faster. Also, homers are not produced by power, they are produced by technique.

Bonds knows his accomplishment is tainted and that will never go away.

Mr Turnbow said...

LWC has a point. Sammy Sosa took steroids and everyone knows it. He also acted like a complete fool a few years ago at that congressional hearing when he claimed he couldnt speak english. But he's going into the HOF and no one is going to say hardly one word about him. You know why? He smiles at everyone and shakes their hand and signs a million autographs. Most of the anti Barry Bonds sentiment exists not because he took steroids but because he doesn't suck up to the sportswriters and fans. Pete Rose is another good example. He's a no good for nothing crook but fans and most sportswriters love him because he sucks up to them.

LeftWingCracker said...

Mr. T, you are dead on, sir.

There would be whispers and murmurs, but not the outright revulsion were Sosa the man chasing Aaron.

GoldnI said...

I wrote something about this over the weekend, and I completely agree with you on this one. You can take all the steroids in the world and it won't make you a better hitter, it just makes some of the hits go further. So in that regard, Bonds is still a great athlete. And it would be perceived differently if he were Mr. Nice Guy.

Sharon Cobb said...

I agree with Autoegocrat on this one.

The drugs DO make all the difference in the world.

When my ex husband fought Larry Holmes in the last 15 round heavyweight championship fight, he had been doing coke and roids for days. (It was 82--they didn't drug test before a fight then)
Anyhow, everyone thinks my ex was so brave to go 15 rounds with Holmes, when in reality, he was drugged out of his mind and numb to most of the punches.

So when Bonds breaks the record tonight, to me it will be just another crack in the crumbling wall of what is left of ethics in pro sports.

Hank did it for real. Maybe he would have had an unbreakable record if he had had roids.

It's all relative.

Sharon Cobb said...

PS--
In fairness to my ex husband, he was never afraid in the ring, including Holmes, drugs or no drugs.

kibitzer said...

My God! Sharon, you were married to Randall "Tex" Cobb! Yes, you're right, this guy was pure bravery. I saw his fight with Holmes. He got battered so much and so hard that Howard Cocell did everything but throw the towel in himself!

Where is he now? What years were your married? Wow! That's one of the unexpected connections of all time.

Sharon Cobb said...

kibitzer,
We were together in 1982, broke up in 1983, got back together in 1986 and married in 1987 an divorced in 1997.

His movie career...due to moi.

He's in Philly--been there since the mid 90s when he left me for an alternative base player with purple hair and blue eyeshadow who played in her husband's band.

He doesn't work. He mostly hides to avoid his alimony to me, and his child support to his first wife.

Regarding Howard C., the night before the fight Howard was in the elevator with Tex and told him that he was upset with Tex for being away from his wife for Thanksgiving. Without missing a beat, Tex said,"Yeah. Your wife called to thank me." Poor Howard quit calling fights after this one.

You can read what happened on my blog--go to the archives and check Nov 26. I posted the same tribute to the fight two years in a row. Also, click on my Flickr badge on my page. I have a really good photo of the fight up on there, as well as some other interesting pics.

That all being said, I have seen and lived first hand athletes who get away with anything and everything because of who they are.

These guys get away with murder, sometimes literally, and most of them shouldn't be glorified.

Shavers and Ali are the only fighter I know (of people I knew cause of Tex) who are the real deal. In baseball, we all thought Mark McGuire was the real deal. Turns out he was all juiced, too.

It's like Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, as a comic, it doesn't count if he gets a laugh from someone who is high, because they're always laughing.

TN420 said...

Heh,

I'l never forget the look of utter shock on Holmes' face when he leaped in the air and hit Tex in the temple with every ounce of power he had, only to have Tex peek over his gloves and smile.

Those were the days. :)

Sharon Cobb said...

420-
I'm pretty sure my irregular heart beat started during that fight.

Tex and I had been dating about 6 months when this fight happened. It was the first fight of his I saw.

He was fine after the fight. I needed sedation.

His first words after the fight were, "Let's party!"

Apparently, the fight was much harder on those of us who watched it than those who were actually doing the fighting.

Sharon Cobb said...

Bonds hit 755. Alex hit 500

The Cubs Are in first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!