Hate Bonds All You Want - Just Don't Be Stupid About It

Sunday, August 12, 2007

(posted by OMDQ)

Last night, I did something that has become increasingly rare in recent weeks: checking the "sports newspapers" section of my Google Reader. With all the blog feeds I have coming in, there's not a lot of time to read the newspaper stuff, so I just try to check it out when I have a spare moment or two.

I'm glad I chose to do that last night, because one of the first things I read was today's "Sound Off" column from the New York Post. And the very first letter? A "Barry Bonds is ruining the game of baseball" rant. Excellent.

Look, this is my opinion on hating Barry Bonds and his possession of the homerun records - if you're going to present your case rationally and give some legitimate reasons for your feelings, then hate away. There's no rule in life that says you have to like everybody. If all you're going to do is mindlessly parrot what you read in the newspaper and on the Internet without stopping to wonder how much of it is true, however, do us all a favor: shut up for a minute and try thinking independently for a change.

This is why that letter in the Post caught my attention: because almost everything in it is crap that you hear all the time in relation to Bonds, much of which comes from people with little sense of history. For instance:

Congratulations to Barry Bonds for officially ruining the integrity of the game of baseball.

The Chicago Black Sox did not officially ruin the integrity of the game of baseball. Gaylord Perry did not officially ruin the integrity of the game of baseball. Pete Rose did not officially ruin the integrity of the game of baseball. Barry Bonds, that jerk - HE officially ruined the integrity of the game of baseball. Now pitchers have to groove fastballs to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols for the next ten years just to make up for it.

He has managed to hit 756 home runs off second-rate pitching,

Oddly enough, Bonds faces the same pitchers as everyone else. It's not like the rest of the league had to deal exclusively with Roger Clemens and Johan Santana while Barry stepped in against Kip Wells and a pitching machine every night. If bad pitching is one of the legitimate reasons he has hit so many homeruns, then why isn't anyone else even close to 700?

in ball parks far smaller than those the old timers played in,

Small or not, guess which major league ballpark is one of the most difficult places to hit homeruns? That's right - AT&T Park in San Francisco, where Bonds has played half of his games since the 2000 season. (In 2001, the year he set the single-season record with 73 homeruns, it was the 32nd worst park for homeruns.) And before that, he spent seven years in Candlestick Park - the same place that people always claim robbed Willie Mays of at least 100 career homeruns. Imagine if Bonds had played in a homerun hitter's paradise like Coors Field?

using extensive body armor in order to lean over the plate.

I'm not sure what the big deal is about "extensive body armor" on hitters. Does it give them more confidence, knowing they don't run the risk of taking a fastball off the elbow? Of course. But we're talking about protection of one area on the body - that 10-15 inch area on his lead arm, which shouldn't stop pitchers from putting one in the middle of his back or under his chin if they really want to take back the inside part of the plate. Bonds doesn't get hit all that often, however - only 105 times in his career (compared to 121 so far for Alex Rodriguez, who is eleven years younger).

And if that wasn't enough, he needed to take performance-enhancing drugs to accomplish the feat.

Good thing you mentioned this, cause it might actually have a place in the discussion. And cause those points you made above certainly weren't enough.

His home run record should be expunged,

Have we altered the statistical records of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds, even though the White Sox didn't always play to win and the Reds have better numbers because of it? How about Gaylord Perry - how many of his 314 career wins should we take off the books because he cheated and threw a lot of spitballs? Or Pete Rose - does he get to keep all 4,256 of his hits despite being expelled from the game for breaking its cardinal rule? There's an idea. Let's wipe Rose off the books. Then Ty Cobb will be the all-time hit lea - no, wait, he was a racist asshole. He can't be in possession of such a distinguished record. Let's get him out of there as well. Who's next? Hank Aaron? That's more like it. We like Hank. He deserves records.

though he should get to keep the record for the greatest increase in hat size over a career.

I have no idea if the hat size increase is actually true or not, but I'm sick of hearing about it. So stop it.

The one thing this letter didn't mention that I could have actually understood was Bonds' personality. If you don't want him to hold the homerun record because you think he's a jerk who kicks puppies and pulls the wings off flies and doesn't make a good role model , that's fine by me. That's your opinion. But don't pretend that he's the only person in baseball history who has ever done anything bad and gotten away with it (like Perry did), or that he deserves to have his records taken away or asterisked because we're pretty sure he came about them through questonable ethics. If you feel that way, go ahead and take the time to tell your kids and grandkids about Barry Bonds: that he was one of the most phenomenally talented baseball players ever and almost certainly the most feared hitter you ever saw, but that he chased the siren song of immortality and possibly risked permanent damage to both his health and his legacy.

Posted by One More Dying Quail at 7:10 PM


excellent defense of the larger hat size:

"I'm sick of hearing about it. So stop it."

Way to go, Matlock!

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2007, 9:30:00 PM  

Very well put. I'm sick of the people who hate on Bonds because he's arrogant or self-centered. Big deal. Like I really need Dale Murphy to tell me that Bonds isn't a good role model for the kids. I wish those people would all shut up.

Aug 12, 2007, 9:32:00 PM  

haha...you talk about "thinking independently" yet look at all of that information YOU regurgitate.

go ahead. if you think in your heart of hearts that he was able to play this far into his career, perform rigorous hard and long workouts, and hit all of those homeruns legitimately at an advanced ballplaying age, then go ahead. You've got all of your "independent" thinking facts to back you. haha.

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2007, 9:45:00 PM  

I love idiots like you Anon...you keep the world interesting.

Try reading the piece again and then commenting.

Aug 12, 2007, 9:55:00 PM  

anonymous #1 - Sorry, I just hate the "look how much his head has grown!" argument and couldn't think of a better way to articulate it. You're right - I should have done better.

anonymous #2 - Did you actually read this or just see that the topic was mildly pro-Bonds and react accordingly? Go back and reread the part where the letter writer addressed steroid use and I agreed that it was a valid argument to make with regards to Bonds.

This post wasn't to say that Barry Bonds did or didn't use steroids. It was to say that people will attempt to make any number of senseless and historically baseless arguments to explain why he shouldn't have the record. I, personally, believe that most of those arguments are bullshit.

And here's another history lesson for you: Hank Aaron, everyone's paragon of virtue in this mess, his 47 homeruns at the age of 37, 34 at the age of 38, and 40 at the age of 39 (in an era that featured much fewer homeruns). Nobody has seasons like that at that age...right?

Aug 12, 2007, 10:15:00 PM  

Pretty good article, I agree that there are definitely people out making negative arguments/comments just for the sake of bashing Barry. That's why I can't take Bob Costas too seriously on this issue as well. I understand he does have good reasons and statements, but his bitterness makes the focus off of his valid statements but onto just how bitter and angry he is towards Barry.

Anonymous said...
Aug 13, 2007, 11:05:00 AM  

THIS is why I come to AA...Kudos!

I have been SCREAMING this same thing in Bonds discussions with my friends as well as on my blog (which, I admit, would be lucky if it got 1/10th of the traffic AA gets..but, I digress).

I've also been screaming the same thing about people opposed to a recent move to legalize table games in Kanawha County (West Virginia), but that's neither here nor there since it's not sports related.

Anyway, again, KUDOS to AA. FINALLY one of the sports-centric blogs I read and I are on the same page when it comes to Barry Lamar Bonds.

JX said...
Aug 13, 2007, 4:12:00 PM  

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