Friday, March 31, 2006

Barry Bonds Watch/ Barry and The Babe

With every sweet or painful swing (depending on the eyes of the beholder)of Barry Bonds, Hall Of Fame bound bat, America will be forced to look directly into the mirror. There is no avoiding the reality of the cultural divide. How this historic moment is viewed, and the opinion of the viewers will cause a room to go silent like verdict day of the OJ trial. You will witness anger and iniquity. Friends will stop talking for a season. Multicultural bowling teams will be missing members on league night, who won't to avoid discussing the topic of Barry and the Babe. I am pained that the game I love, respect and was reared in, will now come under attack.

Baseball was already suffering from it's inability to capture the imagination of the minority youth of today. While it's worldclass leading and cutting edge video on demand ( site and services deserves the highest accolades, it"s old fashioned, out of touch, old media marketing approach to the minority youth of today needs an update. I love baseball and I hate to see the game suffer. The old "sports" media guards will push the envelope to the detriment of society. Old wounds will be opened and fresh blood will flow from the new cuts that will be made. I always laugh and wink at the shallow opinion pieces that are written as fact, that underestimate and insult my intelligence.

Bitter sweet is this season. I walked the stadiums of baseball America in the seventies as a kid. I flew on private chartered jets with the fighting, moustache gang Oakland A's. We were a family. Cubans, Dominicans, Latinos, Italians, Irish, Europeans, Caucasian, African Americans and Jews and Gentiles. This was my life. I will not sit idle while new journalist who are in need of a ratings bump, and a book sale, taint the game and divide America. I said in my earlier open letter to Barry bonds that this is not about steroids and I stand by that statement. The real question is, Is It Worth It?. What will be accomplished by making Barry Bonds the proverbial scape goat?

Man, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, I don't care if I ever get back! I miss Harry Carey! I miss the innocence and warmth of the seventh inning stretch. I miss catching foul balls and bat day. I miss cap day, and yes I miss hot pants day! The Oakland A's actually had such a day! I miss heckling the pitchers! And swing batter swing! I miss George and his Yankees, and Reggie Jackson and the All Star blast! Come on guy's, go report on wrestling and "Leave My Game Along"!

But noooo! U want me to talk steroids, drugs, and racial divide. I could have stayed home and watched a good movie. Have U forgotten that baseball is entertainment!


Reach said...

You said it!
Unfortunately, there is one other divide not mentioned. The divide of economics. I love Baseball, from a young boy as I stood at home plate, to the adult I am today. However, I have been priced out of my love. From parking to the game. What is the game without a hotdog, from the vender walking by your seat? I do not need the beer, soda, or even the candy; just give me a hotdog. And not no $6.00 Hotdog with not even catsup or mustard. I have been priced out of my love.


North said...

Dear Mr. MC, very well said!!

we cannot, and MUST not, condemn ONE man, for the sins commited by the many, when steroid-use was not against regulations!!

I keep asking myself, why now; when he's about to break someone's record? I see something afoot; and it isn't BB's foot...

Lets Play, Ball! : )


BakaGaijin252 said...

You're right, they've perverted every sport that used to be fun to watch. I don't know what "Barry and the babe" is, though.

doubleknot said...

We also have become disappointed in not just baseball but most major sports because it seems to be all about the money now. What team a player joins is all about how much money they will get.
I remember when Hank Aarron hit his hall of fame home run.
Barry Bonds deserves his chance - if they can let player back repeatedly from drug use and jail then the steriods seem such a trivel thing.

Slappy said...

Suppose, just suppose, Bonds admits to steroid use. Juts use your imagination. Should his records still stand? Is it fair for his records to stand against Aaron and Ruth who did not use steroids? I am yet to read an answer to this here.

With Aaron there was some definite racial issues with him surpassing Ruth. However, if McGwire were in the same position, the same questions would be posed.

And can a reasonable person really not have any suspicions about Bonds' use of steroids? Use your common sense. And not just Bonds. McGwire, Sosa, etc.

And to be greatly concerned about Bonds can in fact be from a great love of the game too. Baseball like no other sport is obsessed with numbers and stats. It is a major part of its history and appeal. To prove my point, there are many "magic" numbers in baseball. Numbers that every fan knows the meaning behind with no explanation. 56, 714, 755, etc. When certain "magic" numbers are made no longer relevant like 61 was, it is a MAJOR event in baseball. And should this happen under suspicion, well concern is natural and to be expected.

To immediately dismiss those who question Bonds and his legitimacy is short sighted. Bonds is only the rime example because of the great records he is about to surpass. Perhaps the most prized record of all American professional sports. This issue is far greater than Bonds and the decisions being made today will effect the game for generations for it is the "magic" numbers that help attract baseball's new fans. And when those numbers lose their appeal, so will the game.

McGwire practically admitted to steroid use before congress. When his Hall of Fame voting occurs, you will hear very similar remarks as are being made about Bonds today. If you don't, it will definitely be for racial reasons. It will be very interesting to see.

DOD Fire Fighter said...

Put an * next to his name in the record book. Leave the real records to the men who don't use drugs to put up good numbers. Or should I say "Legit" numbers. Why oh why did they have to kill the game I love with steriods? If Bonds is proven or admits that he used them (look at the facts, that's all I ask) he should never have his "magic numbers" appear anywhere in the record books. That's just how I feel. It shouldn't matter if it was "legal" or not when he used them. It's taking away from the game I loved. Most fans will refuse to recognise any record that was obtained by someone who used drugs to get it. Time will tell.

mrwoods said...

I have to agree with you on this one man. I'm a 24 year old black man, grew up in the inner city where basketball and football reign supreme...I went to college on a baseball scholarship and absolutely love the see where it is now amongst us is truly sad. MLB could do a bit more to market to inner city black kids (i think eric davis is doing something not too sure though), but not sure that would be enough in and of itself...

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undercover said...

Right after the Sammy Sosa corked bat incident I saw a fan holding a sign that said "cork your glove" -- right after Sosa committed an error...


I was thinking "cork your face..."

Nah, it's all fun. But seriously, it's a game, so let's play it.

Kind of pathetic when grown-up people fight over kid games like baseball. Don't get me wrong, I love baseball, but it's for the fun of it!

This is baseball, not politics or war.

Offy said...

To bring race into this is ridiculous. I'm sure that there are people who are motivated to dislike Bonds because of his race, but Bonds is no angel himself and has said plenty of things himself that could be interpreted as racist.

I dislike Mark McGwire for cheating. I dislike Barry Bonds for cheating. The race of the player is not an issue to me. The fact that these cheaters have no respect for a game that I love is what matters to me.

Bonds grew up around the game just like you did. I'm actually surprised that you aren't more upset about him cheating at the game. I guess this is actually more about race than the game though. Silly me.

MC Hammer said...

low blow and totally false!! I just have more info than U do. Do you own research and U will find an article about another drug that has been in the game for years. It effects (helps hand eye coordination, fatigue, and the nervous system) in short every record in baseball becomes questionable. I already new this but I waited til this article that just came out with several players commenting on using it. The only race issue is to erase the Barry Bonds debacle!! for the sake of the game.

nicole said...

Hammer, very well written post!

Axel Wheeler said...

Hey, M.C.
Keep up your strong support of America's Greatest Baseball Plater Ever: Super Hero B arry Bonds!
This man is a Giant in a lot more ways than one! I'll do my part at
And together we'll make sure the fans remember they are witnessing history every time Barry stands at the plate.

jjp said...

Race being an issue is nothing new in Baseball. Ask Jose Canseco, he has been very verbal about it. (I take what he says with a grain of salt, though) Ask Roger Maris. Would there really have been an asterisk after the number 61 if it had been Mickey Mantle setting it?

Now Barry Bonds may some times be discriminated against, but I think many of his problems come from the things he says in the media. (Like last year when he stuck it to those guys) The media deserves a lot of what they get, but they can turn on a person.

I think Barry Bonds would do a lot better with people if he stopped talking and started smiling, even if he has to force it. If he really isn't having fun playing, and he's not just talking to talk, but really hates playing the game now, he has made a LOT of money to date, why not walk away.

As for the entertainment value of baseball, its true that the major leagues have fallen quite a bit. I find 2 places that this is not the case: the minor leagues and college. The stadiums are much smaller, it's an intimate setting. The ums can hear you, the players can hear you. There is a much different feel in those kinds of settings. I'm lucky, I have a very nice college stadium and a very nice minor league stadium within 5 miles of my house. (one is a 20 minute walk...) Baseball is still alive at levels below the majors...

D.R. said...

I take issue with you in many ways with your article.
1.) When you say, "I will not sit idle while new journalist[s] who are in need of a ratings bump, and a book sale, taint the game and divide America," it seems to me you suggest that Barry and those who used steroids were innocent bystanders, that they haven't harmed the game as bad as those who blew the whistle on them, and that those like Denise and Ray Garibaldi, who watched their son die from his exposure to steroids, are less important than the entertainment factor explicit in your statement "Have U forgotten that baseball is entertainment!" No Hammer, we haven't forgotten, but we also want baseball players to remember that it goes beyond entertainment, individual records, and championships. Baseball is about fair competition, sportsmanship, and good-will. Take away these elements and baseball will lose its soul.
2.) You bring racism into an argument that doesn't demand it. Sure there are some who don't like Barry because he is black, but how much sense does it make to now want one black man to triumph over another black man's record? This is about the integriy of Hank Aaron v. the cold, rude, behavior of man clouded in a controversy he helped to spin out of control (after all it was HIS trainer and HIS friend that distributed the steroids to many, many other players with his full knowledge).
3.) Finally, I think you betray your own experience and your own heart in this piece. As a Christian evangelist your foremost desire should not be entertainment, but men's souls. You should worry about those children and teenagers that are continually being told that cheating and using substances that are harmful to your body is the way to excell, not hard-work and prayerful seeking after God's glory. Baseball can bring glory to God through fairness, integrity, and the use of one's body to show the greatness of God's work in humanity. But when people go to the extremes that steroid users have, to participate in illegal activities (steriods are illegal to purchase and use in America without a prescription and a legitimate use, such as a medical condition), and to harm their bodies in the process, then God's glory is slighted and man takes the place of God once again, as he did in the Garden.

Hammer, I know you are a much deeper person than this article suggests. You should set the example that was set for you by ballplayers and by those who brought you to faith in Christ. Don't let your friendships or your love of baseball come before what is right, true, and Godly.

May God bless you in your pursuit of truth.

Phil said...

But, if steroids were not illegal prior to last season, is it cheating?

But even if you choose to disregard that, and consider it cheating, is it any different than Gaylord Perry, who's in the HOF, who probably rarely threw a "legal" pitch in his life? Or any other pitcher?

DOD Fire Fighter said...

Phil, it is illegal to use steroids in this country. It's always been illegal. Baseball didn't have "set" rules on steroids until a few years ago. So YES it was illegal under the law of the land.

Gaylord Perry's pitches against steriod abuse? Come on... Not even in the same catigory.

D.R. said...

Gaylord Perry didn't break federal laws when he threw "illegal" pitches, but even so, two wrongs don't make a right. It's too late to go back and pull Perry from the HOF, it's not too late to make a stand for what is right. Besides the most harmful thing Perry could have done to himself or others was throw a wild pitch or encourage others to cheat by putting a foreign substance on the ball. Steroid use in young adults can cause serious problems at the time, and even worse problems down the line. It can lead to death, as in the case of Rob Garibaldi, Lyle Alzado, and Griffith-Joyner.

Let Barry keep the records he has now -- I don't care! But, for the sake of the game and the children who idolize these "stars" make him submit to several random tests every month -- make all of baseball do the same and make sure HGH and all other banned substances are being tested. Let's get it out!

MC Hammer said...

I have said from day one that I do not advocate steroid use in sports on any level (medical, yes). My heart goes out to any parent who have lost children to any drug, starting with crack, meth, and on to steroids. This is not about steroids!! this is about a media that is choosing one drug over another and they know it! Give me the debate of "Greenie's vs Steroids" and I'll tone it down!

D.R. said...

If you feel that way, then expose those who are using and supplying these 'Greenies' and then get them out. I don't think the right approach is to continue to uplift those who are known users of banned substances just because the unknown ones aren't being exposes. The right thing is to bring justice to all, which doesn't mean ignore all because of the some who are being missed, but rather expose all. There is no doubt that Bonds has been targeted because of his name, but again he was complicit with an organization that was laundering money and dealing in illegal drug trafficking. For what it's worth, I think Fainaru-Wada's and Williams's book heaps equal guilt on all involved, especially those in track and field. Yet, Bonds continual denials in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary has only caused more focus to be placed on him. As I am sure you are aware confession and repentance are the only right and true paths. Encourage your boy to do the right thing Hammer. Wield the sword of your influence to do what is right, not cover up what is wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to interact with me. Feel free to stop my blog Christ and Culture when you get a chance. Just tonight I posted a book review of Game of Shadows. I would love to have your imput, as well as that of all your readers. May God bless you and make His face to shine upon you for His glory.

Phil said...

I realize steroids are illegal. My comments were not to condone their use. I was merely making a point - the argument with Barry is whether he "cheated" or not. No one mentions other players who are known "cheaters". (I am not saying Barry has or hasn't, just pointing out a bit of a double standard).

That's all I'm saying.

Slappy said...

The Gaylord Perry comparison is misleading. Especially if you ever saw Perry pitch. The equivalent would be if Binds showed up at the plate with a needle in his arm. A needle filled with water or some harmless substance. After a thousand times at bat with a harmless needle the Umps accept the needle and no longer question except upon a rare occasion. Perry was blatant about it and most likely rarely cheated for he was rarely caught.

Is a player sliding hard into 2nd to break up a double play cheating? Players often slide to take out the thrower and often miss the bag entirely. Is that cheating? The Tommy John surgery has saved dozens of careers. The operation artificially enhances the arm's internal structure and improves in an operation overnight what mother nature has been been working on since the dawn of man. Is that cheating? Laser eye surgery to artificially improve eyesight. Is that cheating?

I think Bonds cheated but its a VERY difficult problem to solve as to what is cheating and what isn't. Very soon steroids will seem archaic and rather useless when one will soon be able medically enhance one's strength, agility, coordination, eyesight, speed, etc with whatever medical discoveries are to be discovered next. Steroids have been around for more than 50 years. What technology lasts that long? All sports will have to deal with this issue. Professional bodybuilding and football have already learned to deal with it by just accepting it. It is probably inevitable for other sports too. Wait until we start seeing 8' 9" forwards in the NBA.

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alyceclover said...

I don't know too much about all of this. Everything about the game has changed since Babe's time. It wouldn't be a fair contest to compare a 1920's car with a 2006 one as far as ability to win a race. So why compare anyone's ability to beat Ruth's homerun record? The bats were different, the balls were different, the gloves, the turf. There's always been scandals revolving around players, remember the wife-swapping? I miss the old days when even poor kids could get a bleacher seat for a buck. Now some middle class people take bleacher seats, love of the game, but just can't afford other seats. My brother of course has his season planned, and didn't miss opening day. After that player strike that year, he said he wasn't going to go to games anymore. Good sportsmanship used to mean it's not if you win or lose but how you play the game. Drugs have been around forever. Know that the Babe was a heavy drinker, who knows what drugs he (or they) may have used to enhance there skills. I had to ask my daughter, the other day, why steroids were bad; thought it kind of like those power supplements that body builders use. Maybe that's how Bonds (and others) look at it too.

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