Monday, July 30, 2007

7-30-07: Barry Bonds

Good weekend. I visited camp with my father yesterday. He had to fix a part of the climbing wall. Took a while, but he got it done. I mostly walked around to see what had changed since I worked there. Not a whole lot, just some expansion in some areas. I think it makes it easier for the counselors when there are more distractions for the kids. I hated improvising shit to do.

I have to say, I am very impressed with Skype, especially its video chat capabilities. Joanna was in Japan at a hotel, and the video was almost as clear (with a few glitches now and then) as when we first tried the service in adjacent rooms! Sure, it's not crystal clear, but it's still pretty damn good. The voice quality is pretty good. We tried iChat (over AIM), and the video was fantastic, but the audio wasn't as good. So, we chose the better audio. Either way, it's FREE. Fantastic.

Barry Bonds (as of today) is two home-runs away from breaking Hank Aaron's record of 755 career home-runs. It is the most heralded and respected record in all of baseball, or even sports in general. It's bigger than career wins, home-runs in a season (held by Bonds), and total hits. Hank Aaron was, and still is, considered an American hero for his efforts. But Bonds isn't, and nobody cares about the record. Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, took months to decide if he is even going to be there when Barry breaks the record. Not if he is going to applaud Bonds for his feat, just if he was going to be at the game at all!

There are several arguments surrounding the current record chase about how Bonds should not be congratulated for what he has done. They're calling him a cheater. People bring asterisk ("*") signs to games to illustrate how they feel the record is tainted and should be recorded in the history books as a farce. Bonds is booed left and right, in every ballpark outside of San Francisco. One argument against Bonds is that he has lied about using steroids, or that he has never denied using them, so he HAS to be guilty. But I say... where is the logic in that? How can we call it "America's pastime," but treat a baseball star like Bonds like this? He has to be proven guilty, not assumed guilty. Unless he outright says "I have used steroids," you can't logically confirm he has used them unless you have evidence. A leaked grand jury testimony is illegal, and can't be counted in, and the people behind that deserve to be in jail. I hate it when people say "[Troy Ellerman] was trying to help America learn the truth, and he's being thrown in jail. How is that American?" It is ABSOLUTELY American. Ellerman committed an illegal act; he cheated. He is no better than the (allegedly) evil Barry Bonds.

The largest misconception in all of this is the true effect of steroids on an athlete. Let's assume Bonds used them for a brief part of his career, despite having never failed a drug screen. Steroids are used to help an athlete train harder than normal to develop more strength. This usually leads to more muscle mass. Bonds, a good power hitter, relies on bat speed (he uses the smallest bat in baseball). He has always had that bat speed. How? His frame. If he wanted to bulk up in muscle mass, it would possibly make him a little stronger, but it would likely effect his swing, which an athlete like Bonds might not want. You simply can't get around on a ball as fast with all that muscle in your chest in the way.

The other issue is: Bonds was probably not the only athlete using steroids at the time. Jose Canseco has admitted to using them. So has Mark McGwire (but legally). Where are all these other ballooned numbers? Shouldn't they be punished? How would you do it? AND... what about pitchers? Certainly a pitcher on steroids had to throw a few pitches during games. If he got a win, should that count? What if he pitched to Bonds? The misconception here is that Bonds, if on steroids, was in a much more level playing field than people make it out to be nowadays.

The biggest issue is the absolute cowardice of Major League Baseball in this. If he was being treated better by Bud Selig, I guarantee he'd be getting more appreciation from the fans around baseball. Selig, who is friends with Hank Aaron, seems to be letting too much of his personal feelings about Bonds get in the way of his role as Commissioner. Selig makes himself out to be an idealist, a janitor who has cleaned up the game. That's great. That's a wonderful thing. But that's irrelevant. You're the Commissioner, Bud. It is your job to represent Major League Baseball IN GENERAL, not just your dreamland league. Baseball has never caught Bonds cheating, so how can you objectively say anything but "We must congratulate Barry on his achievement" ? You're letting your emotions get in the way of doing your job, Selig.

I can almost guarantee that if Barry Bonds were a nice guy, he'd be seen in an entirely different light. Look at how baseball cherished the home-run race of 1998 with McGwire and Sosa. McGwire has admitted to being the same sort of "cheater" that Bonds is being accused of being, but he was loved! Race may have a small role to play, but most of it is that Bonds is an asshole. He doesn't care what people think of him, and that is his right. Ty Cobb was an asshole. So was Babe Ruth. But, people loved them for their achievements.

Bonds is being treated as a whipping boy for the ignorance of Major League Baseball's past. A past they in which they had full control. Shame on them. Let's go, Barry. You're still an asshole, but you deserve way more credit for your achievement than you are getting. I'll be cheering when 756 clears the wall.

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