Preface: The regular readers will recall that about two months ago I wrote a post lamenting the fact that I am required to have a paying occupation that consumes most of my waking hours of the week, and how this seriously cuts into my time devoted to hobbies and other I’d-rather-be-doings. Apparently I have chosen to solve this problem by neglecting said hobbies in general, blogging in particular. This makes me said. Has The Man finally beaten me? Am I losing heart and throwing in the towel? May it never be! I will strive in the coming days and weeks to get my priorities back in order and resume cranking out mindless drivel for your reading enjoyment. Now, onto todays poop.
To the unsportsed, we fans must look pretty dumb. We spend our precious time, energy, and money following groups of grown men playing children’s games for monetary figures we’ll never know firsthand, linked only by a slim geographical allegiance, and allow the results of these children’s games to toy with our emotions like a teenage beauty queen. To the highest peeks of joy and exhileration to the lowest valleys of depression and anger. And then we beg for more. When we can’t go see the game in person–and spend the family fortune doing so–we look for the biggest high-defintion television we can find so we can see each droplet of sweat, each pock-marked face, each mis-shapen knuckle with stunning and arresting clarity. If there isn’t a game on, we hold vigil with our TV screens turned to one of the many 24-hour sports stations–or better yet, flip back and forth between them all. Or we pour over the rosters of our fantasy teams, spending hours sifting through lists of names and stats, all to find that one gold nugget of an undiscovered 2B/SS or 3rd WR. I am keenly aware that being a fan and rooting my heart out does pecious little to alter the outcome of a game, despite the entreaty that 25% of all games are won by the fans which was once volumously declared by a passionate SF Giants bleecher bum seated in front of me. And yet, I root. To the unsportsed, this must seem like insanity. If it seems like insanity to you, you may want to stop reading because the real point to this post won’t make any sense to you.
Barry Bonds. Arguably the most controversial name in all the land, and not just the sports land either. Barry Bonds stands on the cusp of breaking the most sacred record in all of sports, Hank Aaron’s career home run record of 755. The contorversy of course comes into play due to Bonds’ alledged use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, though to say “alledged” seems rather silly since it should be clear to any resonabley perceptive person who has followed his career that the once speedy, svelt Bonds is now a human monstrosity approximating the Incredible Hulk. Muscles can grow much larger with honest work out. Craniums aren’t usually given to late-in-life growth spurts and Bonds’ is now roughly the size of Jupiters largest moon. Personally, I once gave Barry the benefit of the doubt. Innocent until proven guilty, yada, yada, yada. But no more. Not after all the news coverage and not after reading Game of Shadows. I happen to think Barry Bonds is a colossal cheater and a pretty rotten human being. Certainly not the only professional athlete to fill those roles, but the only one who also fills the third role of eventual record breaker. The record of Hank Aaron who by all accounts did it with natural talent, hard work, and is a pretty decent human being. That’s why Barry gets the heat and Jason Giambi gets a pass.
But here’s the dilemma for me. Tomorrow I am going to the Giants game and though I have no doubts that Bonds has cheated to acheive the level of success he has acheived, and though I know what an unsavory character he is, I know that when he comes to bat I will get excited and will hope that he hits the record breaking dinger while I am in attendance. How can this be? How can I enjoy a moment of thievery made possible by the use of illegal substances? I’ve been wrestling with this lately in my brain (see, this is the part the unsportsed won’t understand). But I think I’ve found away to justify my excited anticipation and still maintain credibility enough to criticize Bonds’ penchant for law evading, cheatery. Whether its right or fair or not, Bonds is going to break that record. Short of a baseball version of Lee Harvey Oswald taking him down from a light tower with a high-powered rifle, its going to happen. So first, I have to accept that fact. Once that is understood, I am able to look at the record breaking moment like I would any other historic tragedy. I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren that I was there. Like when people tell their grandchildren they were there when the Hindenburg went down. It was awful, it was tragic, it was a shame, but it was still historic, and I was there. I was a part of history. And that’s why when Barry Bonds comes to the plate, I’ll stand with everybody else and that’s why if he hits that record breaking home run I’ll have goosebumps and be yelling, “Oh, the humanity!”