Monday, May 22, 2006

Barry's Bonds

Been reading about the home run chase for a while now. Lots of hubbub about when Barry's gonna pass the Babe, and whether or not he's going to catch the Hank.

Well, as of this past weekend, the current poster-boy for "All that's wrong with Professional Sports" caught up with the Great Bambino, and is one home run away from knocking the Legend himself into third place all-time. He may have already done it, for all I know. Thing is, I'm not a huge baseball fan.

I never played little league baseball. Jr. Jazz basketball and six years at halfback in the South Davis Soccer Association were more than sufficient for me. And if I played with my friends, football was the game of choice outdoors. I used to play catch with my buddy Greg from time to time, but for the most part, my sentiments on the Major Leagues were crystallized by Rick Reilly back in the late 80's when his "Glory to the Gridiron" column showed up in the back of my Sports Illustrated.

Still, the "Barry Issue" covers a lot more ground than just America's Pastime, and that's why I think I'm somewhat interested in it. Interested to make the following observations, anyway:

I read one article on that debated whether Barry's name will eclipse The Babe in generic sports references, as in: "You can pitch to that guy; it's not like he's Babe Ruth". Now, while you could say that about Barry, the truth is that no matter what records he breaks, Barry Bonds is never going to be Babe Ruth. And I don't say that because he's a jerk, or because he took steroids, and it certainly doesn't have anything to do with his race. The point is that Babe Ruth is a sports "Legend", and as much as the media tries otherwise, we aren't going to see any more sports "Legends". In fact, the more the media tries to overpromote these guys, the less legendary they become. Babe Ruth was maybe the best baseball player that ever lived (and he was a jerk, too, as I hear); "Babe Ruth" was a myth. Barry Bonds may compile the greatest stat line the Major Leagues has ever seen, but Barry Bonds will never become "Barry Bonds". Barry Bonds is far too human for that.

I don't pardon Bonds for (allegedly--do we have to keep saying that?) using steroids, but in some ways I think singling him out is kind of like singling out Wal-Mart. You telling me everyone else is clean? Even if they aren't using steroids, they're using dietary supplements, intense weight training, taking advantage of all sorts of modern technologies, and probably getting laser hair removal, too. If I have to boycott Wal Mart, then how do I justify NOT boycotting Target, K-Mart, Shopko, and every other "big box" retailer out there?

I think what I'm really trying to say is this: We're just going to have to be happy with the game itself, because the business lost it's innocence a long time ago.