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.