Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Where were you for 756*?

While I'm not a big baseball fan, I've been following Barry Bonds's chase of the home run record with great interest. As luck would have it, I dropped off some friends at the airport this evening and as I started the drive home I turned on the radio to see what was happening. And what do you know: Bonds was up next for his third at-bat after having hit a double and a single in his first two at-bats! The crowd was electric, chanting "Barry! Barry!" Once Bonds got in, the count quickly reached three and two. And then Bonds got a fastball. And he launched it 435 feet for his record breaking 756th home run...! The crowd went absolutely crazy! All very exciting!

What followed was a lesson in taking the high road. With the steroid controversy engulfing Bonds, Hank Aaron had previously refused to attend Barry's record breaking run. But when Barry came out on the field with Willie Mays, Aaron appeared on the big stadium screen and very graciously congratulated Barry on his singular achievement:

It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination. Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams.

Now that's classy. Quite unlike Bud Selig's classless performance in San Diego when Bonds hit 755.


AV said...

I am disappointed in the celebration and amazed that even rational people who are convinced that he is juiced will still go nuts over this "accomplishment".

Just because the crowd roars and the atmosphere is electric doesn't make it right.

It is interesting to note that in cycling if you miss a test, you are done. Out. No excuses. No second chances.

In this completely cash-dominated society everybody kowtows - the media, the fans, even some of my favorite ESPN commentators -because they are controlled by corporations that stand to make a lot of money.

Let's call a dope a dope and not let our kids believe that this was a great accomplishment.


p.s.: I am no fan of Bud but I am perfectly fine if his conscience does not allow him to take the high road.

Pandu Nayak said...

Oh come on now. Don't take the easy way out by simply disregarding what Bonds accomplished! I am in no way denying that Bonds took steroids. But one can still enjoy what he's done.

However strong he got, he still had to connect bat to ball---not a trivial task at all. Unlike your cycling example, where proper doping can substantially improve your stamina and directly help your performance, doping does not improve hand-eye coordination. Of course, when he connected bat to ball, presumably the ball went further. And maybe it increased his longevity. But it's still pretty amazing.

As for Bud, in his position as commissioner of baseball, either he should outright punish Bonds or acknowledge the accomplishment. Saying "innocent until proven guilty" while acting like "guilty until proven innocent" is pretty damn weak.

AV said...

First, let me agree with you on Bud. He is a dope (a different kind of dope).

Next, I will agree that Bonds has accomplished a lot. And I am not questioning that he is very talented (with or without steroids).

Also, yes, we can always enjoy a home run at a baseball park when it is our home team and we are big fans.

What I am questioning is whether the specific accomplishment is worthy of celebration - and that's because I am not convinced that he has legitimately broken the record. Yet.

Here's another way to look at it - Bonds' HR string starting in 1986 and up to 1999 has been: 16, 25, 24, 19, 33, 25, 34, 46, 37, 33, 42, 40, 37, 34.

Lets say he really kicked it up a notch in 1999 and hit 49 and we will give him all those HRs as being clean.

Now comes 2000 - he hits 73!!

Let's say he was juiced and would have hit 49 that year if he was clean.

Which tells me he is still 24 HRs behind Aaron's record. I would feel much better if your headline read: Where were you for 756*?

Here's a question for you: If the key witnesses in the case (Anderson, etc) finally step up to the plate (in the off-season of course) and admit to all the wrong-doings, if Bonds is found to have knowingly juiced himself, and if, finally it is proven (what is universally accepted), would you still think the same way about the "record"?

What blows my mind is that while everyone admits he is juiced, the powers that be have managed to put the lid on questioning the legitimacy of the record. With Bobby as dad, Willie as godfather and Reggie as uncle, and with 100's of millions of dollars at stake, one has to wonder how many back-door negotiations took place to get Hank Aaron to "not show up at the Park, but send a "classy" message"!

It is also amusing to see how the most one can do to minimize this accomplishment is to not show up for the game!

Anyway, enough said! Oh, one more question: Would you have reacted differently if the player in question was, say, Giambi?


Pandu Nayak said...

I'll agree with you that the title of the post should be "Where were you for 756*?" So I'll go ahead and change it. But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy listening to the moment on the radio!

As for putting a lid on questioning the legitimacy of the record, I'm not at all sure any lid has been put. Every sports talk show I listen to (including local ones) constantly question the legitimacy of the record. And fans outside the SF Bay Area positively hate Bonds.

Finally, I don't know how I'd react if it was Giambi---I'm not a big enough baseball fan. But I doubt I'd have enjoyed the moment in quite the same way... It's like Deion Sanders: the year he played for the 49ers and we won the Super Bowl, I loved him; the next year when he "defected" to the hated Cowboys, I loathed him...:-)

AV said...

Aw, thanks for the asterisk!


AV said...

Aw, thanks for the asterisk!! You didn't have to!


/* Google Analytics tracking */