Sunday, August 5, 2007

BARRY BONDS: An American Legend!!

(I put this picture up because he looks like a big prick in it! BARRY, BARRY,BARRY!)

So, Barry’s finally done it. The chase, which had seemingly turned into a marathon, ended when Bonds blasted #755 into the left field stands at Petco Park in San Diego. Fittingly, Chad Hensley gave up the historic home run. He tested positive for a banned substance in 2005 and was suspended by MLB for 15 games.

Bonds admired his work, as he’s done so many times, before he started making his way around the bases. The crowd’s reaction was more positive than expected, and it’s a safe to assume that 60-65% of those in attendance were applauding. I waited on this column for a long time because I had grown tired of the nonstop attention Bonds has received over the last 3 or 4 years, but now I think its fitting to fully articulate my position on Bonds and offer some coping techniques to those who absolutely can’t stand the man. Before I do all of that, I will first go on a bit of a rant about Bud Selig.

Selig created this entire mess 8-10 years ago when it was blatantly obvious that a large percentage of Major League ballplayers were using steroids. He was perfectly content using the long ball to bring baseball back. In fact, he looked like a kid in a candy shop as Sosa and McGwire went on their juice-filled pursuits of the record. Once the backlash finally came, and the fans wanted the “cheaters” called out, Selig finally stepped up and admitted there was a problem. He was the only commissioner across the 4 major sports in America who openly allowed the federal government to investigate his league. Hmmm, I wonder why? Selig only started tackling this problem when it became a black eye for MLB. Don't pretend like he gave a shit about the fans. He turned this damn thing into a circus to protect the league! Ultimately, his plan failed, but his motives are obvious. The same people who argue against ESPN for abandoning "the people who got them there" should have just as big a problem with what Selig's done to MLB. He let steriods run rampant to increase the league's entertainment value and draw fans back. Right when fans caught on, he started this huge crackdown to win back their trust and support. I don't hear to many people saying fuck MLB and predicting its demise. Doesn't make sense to me.

Anyone close to baseball had to know the severity of the steroid problem well before this crackdown begun. Even casual observer’s unquestionably knew something “smelled funny” when they watched offensive production skyrocket across the league. When Bret Boone hits 37 home runs and has 141 RBI’s, something is definitely up. Why wasn’t he doing something then? Bret Boone hitting close to 40 bombs is about twice as insane as Bonds’ 73. (I’ll prove it to you if you don’t believe me.) Oh, and look at the statistics in 98'/99' and tell me their not ridiculous.

Selig’s motives have been selfish from day one, and it’s amusing how many people think he’s done nothing wrong. He should be the man facing this intense scrutiny. Instead, he’s been patronized and given the benefit of the doubt. Leaders, in other professional business settings, face punishment when they close their eyes to unethical and illegal behavior being carried out by their employees. Moreover, it’s usually discovered that they were aware of what was going on and did absolutely nothing to stop it! Lastly, employers should face the most severe punishment in the rare instances when they actually aren't aware of what's going on. They are responsible for making sure illegal things aren't happening within the organization!

Selig basically ok’d the use of steroids in MLB in order to bolster the league's public image, and now is criticizing those who used the steroids to bolster that same image again. If the media driven steroid backlash he created didn’t exist, Selig would be inviting Jason Giambi out to dinner, not forcing him to testify as part of some joke investgation. If I’ve been confusing and you’ve missed my point, go get a dictionary and look up the word hypocrite. You’ll understand what I mean.

So, when he sits out in California looking completely disinterested and says, ““I don’t think anybody can say I haven’t made a Herculean effort” when asked about his involvement in Bonds' pursuit, I hope you can understand why I want to get on the first flight to California and punch him straight in the face.

He stood up about 5 seconds after Bonds struck the historic ball . The ball was already in the stands, and the others in attendance had long since been on their feet. Some cheered and some booed, but one thing was certain, everyone at least had some short of reaction. I guess I understand why Selig stood there expressionless. He was thinking one of two things to himself.
“I created this whole mess, and now have to act like I’m upset even though I would be cheering if everyone was oblivious to the steriods that invaded my league as I sat back and allowed it to happen.” Or, “I am pissed that he tied the record because now I’m going to have to act like I give a shit about steroids for reasons outside my bank account, my public image, and place in baseball history “ Wow, I’m getting nauseated just talking about this. He should have stood up like a man and given Barry his proper respects. After all, he's the one who basically said steriods were alright by not saying anything! His reaction would have been merited only if he had truly tried to stop the problem when it started.

One reaps what he sows. Selig’s like the idiot farmer who plants corn seed, only to act pissed, disappointed, and shocked when its harvest time. “Damn it, I planted corn seeds and got corn!" Well, no shit buddy. Corn is going to grow if you plant corn seeds. The steriod problem is going to grow if you plant the seeds of their acceptence early on! Why is this man being let off the hook with the obviously idiotic defense of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."?

Back to Bonds

Unlike the announces calling the game, I knew the ball was gone once it hit the bat. I’ve marveled in too many Barry home runs to have any doubt. His pose, only rivaled by Griffey, sealed the deal, and I excitedly jumped out of my seat.

I was on cloud nine. I’ve been on “Barry Watch” for a long, long time. The whole damn thing was finally over. I was beginning to think he wasn’t going to get there with all of his injuries, his age, and his growing disgust for the personal attacks. Immediately, I sent out the same text to around 20 people, both to inform them of the historic accomplishment and create a little controversy. Below is a sampling.

Bathrick responded saying “Liking Bonds is so unAmerican. You are a homosexual”

Keg said, “Ya I’m watching juicefest.”

McCready said just one word, “awful”

Smarty (Brian Joines) Said: “I better go turn it on.” I assume he was being sarcastic.

So, the moment had arrived, and was over just as quickly. The game wasn’t stopped; no long tribute, and no Hank Aaron. He was probably somewhere far away lamenting the day Barry Lamar Bonds was born. I expected this type of reaction. The whole thing was unremarkable and that might even be an understatement. It was as if something extraordinary didn’t just happen. The most revered and sought after record in sports had been tied, and everyone sat around flummoxed (my new favorite word) This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, but it made sense nonetheless.

I couldn’t contain myself though. If you hate Barry, don’t read the next few paragraphs unless you have a barf bag freely at your disposal.

I’ve loved Barry Bonds since I can remember. I used to choke up on my bat in Little League, and had to fix the “hitch” in my swing because I mimicked his. (I guess I just never had the same bat speed.) When All-Stars came around, and we choose numbers, I always took #25. I remember watching those painful series against Atlanta in the early 90’s, and can still name off half of that Pittsburg Pirate’s roster because of him. I remember his massive first year in San Francisco, his 40/40 milestone, and how sweet he was in RBI 93 and Tony LaRussa Baseball for Sega. I loved that cross ear ring he wore. I loved the walk after he hit bombs, and I loved that really weird “snag” catch he did in the outfield for one or two years until someone told him that he looked like a cocky asshole when he did it. (I tried that in Little League too, and was unsuccessful.) Don’t ask me why, I just thought he was freakin’ sweet. I’ve met only one other true Bonds fan my entire life (Conroy aka Big Slick), so it didn’t surprise me that I was the only person in Indiana wearing an orange and black SF hat from 1994-1997.

As he approached the single season HR record, I was a senior in high school. I followed his games, and remember his record tying #70. He was in Houston, and he launched a ball deep into the stands, right in the left center gap. I remember winning a bet against Murphy because of it. I sensed Bonds was going deep, and made a 5 beer shotgun bet against him. Bonds delivered, and so did Murphy as beers were immediately being shot gunned in my kitchen sink. I remember the 2002 World Series when Barry finally lived up to his potential in the situation that mattered most. The homerun he hit against Anaheim in Game 4 or 5, was the most impressive sports moment I’ve witnessed. I have never and will never see a baseball hit that hard again. I remember reading Tim Salmon’s lips in the dugout as he said, “Oh my god. I’ve never seen a ball hit that far.” The ball didn’t land anywhere. I think its still orbiting the earth. When the Giants BLEW that series and lost, I was shocked. They were a few outs from a World Series. Barry almost had his fucking ring.

Bonds put together monster years in 2003 and 2004, but then age, injuries, and maybe a lack of steroids, caused him to slow down. The chase became a grind, and the negativity, resentment, and animosity surfaced on an even grander scale. I never worried that Bonds was going to retire before the record. He has too much pride, and is too big a prick. He wanted this record. He thinks he’s a victim. He wants to be the “martyr” who takes all of the heat for the league wide epidemic. He’s ego is so big that he thinks it only makes sense “they target me because I’m the best.” I know that’s what he is thinking.

I’ve never argued that Barry Bonds was the nicest guy. I’ve never argued that he doesn’t deserve all of the negativity. I only argue that he’s a damn good baseball player. He was the best I’d ever seen; even before he supposedly started using steroids. The only other player in his league during the 90’s was Griffey. Their numbers during that stretch are eerily similar. I just want people to understand that Bond’s never tested positive to using steroids. Moreover, he has support from a majority of Major League players both past and present. He was going to be attacked by the media regardless of whether or not he ever touched a steroid. He’s a villain, always has been and always will be. Don’t pretend that Griffey would be facing the same backlash if he was the man pursuing the record and some unproven allegations had surfaced about him. I don’t say that to attempt to prove Barry’s innocence, I just want people to admit that Bond’s would be getting attacked even if he never touched a steroid. In the end, no asterisk will be placed next to his name, and history will once again prove it has a way of forgetting how a person achieved something; it tends to focus only on results.

So, my advice to those who hate Bonds is this: Get over it and move on. A-Rod will be right on Bonds heels in around 7 years, and then we’ll have another hated guy facing unproven accusations. I think I’ve started to hear some A-Rod steroid rumors already this week. The record is Bonds’ and nothing can be done to change it. I don’t waste my time on arguments that really aren’t relevant moving forward and suggest everyone does the same. I hope people divert their attention to Selig soon. He’s the real asshole in the situation even though its far more subtle.


Barry, congratulations my man. I am happy this whole deal is almost over. Soon, I’ll only have to defend you with the simple line “what’s done is done.”

As a kid, I always loved the flashiest and most entertaining athletes, even though I am pretty close to emotionless when I compete. (Well other then the massive temper that causes me to yell at my own teammates, or criticize an idiot on the other team.) Agassi, Barry Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Barry Bonds were the athletes I started following at a young age, and they all still have a soft spot in my heart. You should have seen me during Agassi’s last US Open. I grinded out every match like I was fucking coaching him, and legitimately believed he had a shot at winning the title, even though he was moving around like a 70 yr old man. I just can’t stop rooting for the people I loved growing up. So, if I would have picked up baseball at a later age, maybe I hate Barry Bonds right now. But hey, you gotta appreciate my loyalty to the guy’s I’ve been following for over 15 years now. I can guarantee everyone that will never change!

Quick side note: My first sports recollections really start in 91’ with the Bulls win over the Lakers in the NBA finals, and then the Pirates loss to the Braves in the NL league championship. (Bonds lost three straight NL Championships. One to the Reds (4-2) and two straight to the Braves (4-3).)

13 Comments:

Guy said...

I agree about there being nothing to argue about. It's over. And thank God. I didn't even have it on when it happened-- but I did go out of my way to watch the clip. It's a big moment in baseball, no matter what anyone says.

I think Barry is a great baseball player-- his eye is ridiculous. I just don't think he would have hit as many homeruns without the roids, obviously. And its a shame because it takes away people's perception of his baseball ability.

I can't wait to revisit this in a few years with A-Rod. Although I will admit that I kinda have a soft spot for him. Hopefully hes not still with the Yanks. Seriously, if that guy tells the Yanks to shove $30mm up their asses, he will be my favorite player of all time.

Buzzsaw said...

I agree with most of what you say, here's what I don't agree with...

The ESPN analogy doesn't really hold up. I agree the "steroid era" can be compared to the present ESPN era, but that would mean that Selig's effort to change back to pure baseball would be like ESPN going back to the golden years. That won't happen, but if it did we would celebrate; and therefore celebrate this. So I don't really get it, clear it up if possible.

Also, I appreciate, and can understand your love for Bonds, and totally agree that he's one of the best ever. However, I don't see how you can honestly use the "he's never tested positive" line. Do you believe Lance never used performance enhancers?? I can't.. if he didn't he's some freak that could beat an entire field of drug users. The wrote a fucking book detailing Bond's steroids schedules, his trainer is in jail right now because he refuses to testify in Barry's case; what's there to hide?

Logan said...

Is that picture from an All-Star game or HR Derby? What a horrendously ugly piece of clothing.

Anonymous said...

Lance Armstrong is probably the most tested athlete on the face of this earth. How can he dodge testing positive everytime he gets off a bike? Let me break down how the tour works to you ignorant/piggish amercians. There is about 20 teams composed of 9 riders. Each of the teams has a leader who they ride for. The other 8 riders sole purpose is to shield wind and protect this so called leader from crashes. These wind breakers are called domestics. Lance also had teamates pulling him halfway up the fucking mountain and expending all of their energy for his sake. Lance's team was one of the best around. They kept him insanely fresh for the mountain stages that he dominated the 7 years he raced. The postal teams primary focus was to get Lance and keep him in the yellow jersey (theres a fiancy french word for it but I can't think of it right now). Other teams were trying to win sprint stages and other stages that didn't dictate the outcome of the race. All we hear about is how sweet Lance Armstrong is when in fact he had a sick ass team composed of self sacraficing individuals.

Daris said...

buzz,

My ESPN analogy is only suggesting that both parties' motives are exactly the same, and they don't have the best interest of fans in mind.

Seling is only trying to go back to the "Golden Era" because that’s when his league was making the most money, and didn’t have a huge black eye. If getting back to the "Golden Era" wasn't being demanded by a large MAJORITY of MLB fans, we wouldn't see this crackdown on steroids.

Don't be tricked into thinking that Selig is trying to "clean-up the league" for reasons other than selfishness and greed. If he had the best interest of baseball fans in mind, he would have never let this happen in the first place.

The only difference is that ESPN doesn't have to go back to the "Golden Years" because a large MAJORITY of their viewers aren't demanding it. (I just don't know how many times I have to hammer home that point.)

ESPN only goes back to the "Golden Years" if they see their ratings suffering. They would do it in a heartbeat as well, but I hope people would see how ridiculous it was.

Would you be happy celebrating the return of ESPN if they went "old school" only because they didn't want to lose money? I understand our sports news would be better, but I hope you wouldn't be praising them for making a move to protect their own asses. Ya, we got what we wanted, but why did we get it? And don’t say who cares, because it’s important to consider and has long term implications

I hope that’s not too confusing. People are right in thinking Selig is trying to "fix baseball" and get us back to the "golden years". But the question is: why is he doing that??

My analogy only works if you look at it from a league/network motives perspective.

Selig only cares about the diehard MLB fans because he has to. ESPN, doesn't have to care about "the group that got them there", so they don't. Both positions seem pretty shitty to me.

Buzzsaw said...

Anon,

You really think he was just naturally better than all of these world class cyclists who were also using drugs??? He's the only winner of the Tour not to test positive since 1995, and he was dominant in that period. I've read a decent amount of the EPO scandal, apparently when it came into the sport, two difference groups were formed in races, one in the front of people on EPO and one behind of non-users. And we know at least a couple of his teammates were on it too ... Landis... If you aren't American, aren't you supposed to hate Lance??

Daris said...

log, its gotta be from a HR derby.
Buzz, I can use the he never tested positive line because, well, he never tested positive. however, i do understand what you mean.

Am I almost 100% Bond's juiced? Yes, I am, and feel almost the same way about Lance. Bottom line is that until someone tests positive for something, its merely an accusation. Tests put to rest all doubt and question, but neither man has ever failed a drug test to my knowledge. Purely "legal" argument here, but true nonetheless.

oh, and anonymous, i'd like to see a detailed report of Lance's test history at the tour before you come on the board spouting off ridiculousness.

Who was testing Armstrong? Was it team USA? Or was the anti-doping agency testing him everytime? Where did you collect this information? Lance's autobiography? I sense you don't have any real support for your argument other than words that came out of Lance's mouth.

Literally every other rider at the top of cycling during this time was testing positive. So, my question is this: is a clean Lance better than Jan Ulrich on steriods?? Lance was that good that he beat other prime athletes who were also aided by juice?? haha, i like to think im pretty logical, and that doesn't make too much fuckin sense.

Anonymous said...

Buzz,
Are you insinuating that just b/c Landis doped that everyone on his team or anyone that used to ride with him doped as well? Thats an absurd statement.
Darius,
I regret to inform you that I do not have access to Lance's drug testing records. Nor do I have a clue how to obtain such records. Let me make a couple calls and I will get back to you on that one. Once again you people act like it's a tennis match where these people are playing against one another mono Y mono. "Outlasting an entire field of worldclass cyclists" "is a clean Lance better than a Jan Ulrich on steroids"... I guess you guys missed the whole point of my previous post. First of all out of the 180 people who enter the tour each year only about 4-6 of them have a real chance of winning. The other 95% of the people involved are working for those 12 leaders or trying to win bullshit sprint stages. So is he outlasting an entire field of worldclass cyclists? I think not. Consistantly beating the same 4-6 people? I think so. Lance had 2 other climbers on his team pulling him up the alps who were almost as talented as he was. I'm trying to tell you people that you need a very good team If you want to win the Tour.
Jan Ulrich lacked the work effort an intensity that Lance posessed when it came to training. Jan was constantly criticized for showing up to events over weight. While Jan was backing into shit and getting DUIs outside of some dirty german nightclub lance was probably focused on winning the tour and with that millions of dollars in endorsements. After coming in 2nd for the 4th or 5th time to a CLEAN Lance armstrong I would probably try to take the easy way out and dope as well! I would take a prepared Lance Armstrong with an excellent team over a doped up, waste of a talent Jan Ulrich any day of the fucking week.

Buzzsaw said...

I can't really argue with either of you because of the lack of a positive test. It's pointless to even try, but it'd be pretty naive to believe that there aren't scientists that are developing drugs to beat these tests. It's a pointless argument though, no one can really win.

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

Anonymouis,

You say that there are only 4-6 riders who Lance actually had any real chance of losing to during his Tour winning streak, right? So in fact, the Tour really does come down to a 1 vs. 4-6 competition, which is a lot closer to that “mono y mono” analogy you made Well, those 4-6 competitors tested positive for juice over and over again. I guess you think that Lance is better than the other four riders even if they are on steroids. World class athletes, with the help of steroids, can’t beat Lance Armstrong in 1 tour? I’m not saying he wouldn’t have won a majority of tours, but every single one for seven years? Seems unrealistic to me.

I know you keep mentioning that cycling is a team sport, and I agree with that assertion. I can’t agree that America’s Postal team was that much better than team Telekom/T-Mobile seven years in a row. Ulrich’s group was the best cycling team on the planet for over a decade. (Lance completely destroyed the rest of the field on his way to winning a few of the tours. So, a doped up Ulrich couldn't even make the race close??)

Let’s think about it from a baseball perspective. Assume that Bonds, Girffey, Sosa, and Mcgwire were the four best power hitters in the late 90’s and early 00’s. We suspect that three out of the four cheated. Griffey is presumably the only one who wasn’t using performance enhancing drugs. I don’t think Griffey ever won a homerun crown, did he? Well, that’s funny because I think most people would argue that Griffey was the best and most consistent power hitter of the bunch.

What Lance did is equivalent to Griffey outperforming Sammy, McGwire, and Bonds. How can one logically suggest that Lance was able to win every tour if all of the other top competitors were on juice?

I love the sarcasm. So make a couple calls and get back to me with Lance’s test history. If you can’t do that for some reason, you might want to back of your “100% sure Lance didn’t juice” stance.

I love Lance Armstrong as much as anyone, but when things don’t make sense, I have to look at the situation skeptically.

Oh, and I would take a “doped” up Jan Ulrich with his Telekom team over the US Postal team and Lance any day of the week. However, if you add a couple needles to the United States side, I might have to reconsider.

Your argument seems to rest solely on the idea that Lance is a good guy, and had a team that was 100% better than any other group in the tour.

You see, I haven't made an ass out of myself with my position on Bonds because I say that I'm almost 100% sure he juiced. I only say he's never tested postive. You assume Lance is innocent only because he's never tested positive. One argument seems to work better than the other, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Darish,
4-6 riders have a chance at winning the tour b/c of their climbing abilities. It's not like these 4-6 racers are dueling it out the entire race. These 4-6 riders aren't breaking away from the pack on a consistent basis racing by themselves. Even the guy in 120th place of the tour is there for a fucking reason. It's not because he sucks I can tell you that much. It is because he was working hard for people like Jan Ullrich, Escartin, Lance, Mayo, Pantani to get them in a position where they could have an adequate chance of winning.
I'm sorry but to have the luxury of riding behind riders like Kevin Livingston, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Hincapie, is something a DOPED up Jan never had. I don't know if you're aware of this or not but in the tour there are this things called TEAM TIME TRIALS. Since it seems like you have a lot of time on your hands why don't you go look some of these results up. The U.S postal/Discovery were usually in the top 3 if not always the best. The team was a fined tuned well oiled machine that made the tour look too easy.
You say that all the top guys were getting busted for steroids. Why then didn't lance? Example; Iban Mayo who is a very accomplished cyclist was kicked out this year or suspended before the tour i can't remember.
Lastly I don't know how you could even come close to comparing this sport to baseball. Baseball: where everyone is judged by INDIVIDUAL statistics. Cycling: where everyone is judged by winning one fucking race. Lance only cared about winning the Tour de france. Yeah he fucked around in other races before that one but he didn't really try. I'm sure if Barry and his team specifically trained for a particular game out of the year and devoted the entire year to winning that game. It could be done. I would say that he and his team could even win 7 games in a row in seven years if they really put some time into it. I'm sorry since you we're getting stupid and comparing this sport to baseball I thought I to might as well do the same.
My argument rest on the fact that all of these prestigious cyclists were getting caught for roids and that lance never did. Cycling is probably the most strict sport when it comes to drug use. Even this year they disqualified the leader of the Tour De France for merely missing a drug test. I will now dumb it down and compare it to baseball. It is like kicking out Vlad and Bonds in the same year. Kicking out the leader of the biggest race of the year. WOW. What sport can you name where a winner has been busted for steroids and banned for it. (olympics shit doesn't count)

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