Monday, July 23, 2007

Bonds Goes Electric

Sometime in the next few days, Barry Bonds will knock 3 more out of the park and become baseball's all-time Home Run leader, the latest milestone for one of the greatest players in the history of the game... but I expect there will be no joy in Mudville when the record falls. Major League Baseball is trying to turn him into Jonathan E in Rollerball - a solitary player who thinks he's better than the game, pursuing a selfish personal goal that will actually bring disgrace to the sport unless the event is diminished or says the establishment...

You see, Bonds is juiced - he's been playing the last few years in a state of steroidal animation, as if the steroids themselves had been doing all the hitting. We can't be sending messages to kids that there are shortcuts to excellence. Plus he's a jerk - unlike the heroic, dignified path Henry Aaron took to take the Home Run King title away from Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds is doing this for Barry Bonds, in the culmination of his endless ego-trip of a career. No wonder the commissioner of baseball won't even commit to being there when the record falls - Hank Aaron certainly won't be there; another example of his quiet dignity.

First of all, why do people have to focus on the 'dignity' of Aaron so much when they only bring it up to contrast what a pig Bonds supposedly is? What kind of compliment is that? And while we're insulting Aaron, how do we know he wasn't taking amphetamines and stimulants back in the day just like every other seventies ballplayer was?

Bonds is as much of a uncooperative jerk in an interview as Bob Dylan ever was - check out No Direction Home to get more of a sense of the truly pedantic questions that came at Dylan hot and heavy, with actual answers expected ("How many protest singers are there?"); you can totally empathize with Dylan's tired, exhausted answers ("136...or 142.") that lent to his 'surly' reputation. Have you ever seen a picture of a typical Bonds press scrum? He looks cornered by a tightly-packed semi-circle of camera lenses and microphones; no wonder sarcastic comments get when you get a rep for being a prick, the questions that come at you seemed tailored to bring out the prick...Bonds' fault for playing along, but I've been more routinely horrified by recent players like John Rocker than by Bonds.

Oh yeah, and a few years ago when Mark McGwire was chasing the single-season HR title with those giant ham arms, no one was grousing about how he was cheating the whole time - and if they were, they didn't much hold it against him. And McGwire eventually took the fifth when Congress came around to asking him. Bonds hasn't even been charged with anything yet...

If Bonds was taking steroids that's because everyone might as well put an asterisk next to the last ten World Series results and any other records that went down in all this time if you want to discredit Bonds' achievements by these lofty standards of purity.

Too bad Wesley Snipes already played Bonds in Tony Scott's The Fan because he'd be perfect to star in the muckraking Michael Mann version of the story we should all be praying for right now. Fine - get Jamie Foxx.

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