(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
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
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’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
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
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).)