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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Barry Is Back in the News: Also, Total Chaos

So it appears the Giants are going to pay Barry upwards of $15 million to see if he can finally break Hank's record. Maybe Bonds will end the suspense by bringing his personal trainers into the lockeroom and voiding his contract. I have a terrible feeling about this. Not just that he is going to actually break the record, but that he will eventually be embraced by "average" baseball fans, which is to say the "general public." At the forefront will be ESPN. They will debate the issue on Around the Horn, immediately echoed by PTI, immediately echoed by Sportscenter, immediately echoed by Baseball Tonight, and the only conclusion they will come to is publicity.

I'm sure Barry's PR people will turn it into a race issue. By PR people, I mean probably Page 2. This argument should really produce zero credence since a) Hank Aaron was also black (in a time when it was actually difficult to be black and not just "apparently" difficult to be black), and b) Mark McGwire is white, and he has been banished from baseball's hallowed grounds - the Hall of Fame- and conversations unless they begin with "Congress" or "hearings." The average American forgives and/or forgets as a general rule for pretty much anything, unless of course they are passing judgment on a Republican. And for whatever reason, and more than likely for no reason at all, Barry will be forgiven when his infamous home-run clears its final hurdle. The game will be suspended, music will be played, Barry may actually cry, hug his family, make a run at being human, shake some hands, and amongst the pomp and circumstance the purists will shudder, and their cries will be overwhelmed by exploding fireworks signaling baseball has forever changed and baseball players have forever been tainted.

It was one thing when changes were innocent, when games were played at night, when they added the DH, when games on radio no longer dominated the air waves, but this time as baseball presumably turns its head, the most important record in all of sports will abruptly lose its meaning with one swing of a bat made by a man swinging solely for himself. Maybe I am naive about players from yester-year who assuredly had their own shortcomings and made their own mistakes. But for me there is almost a romantic link between our national pastime, ballplayers and booze, and chasing women in its golden age. And now... horse steroids? And greenies? And the national pastime has taken on a quite literal meaning with recent threats of government intervention. Certainly they didn't have 24-hours of reporters and photographers and ESPN Hollywood (aka Sportscenter) to deal with in the 40's and 50's, etc. but there is a reason we will always associate Hank Aaron with class. And though his famous swing will not be heralded with the accomplishment of Jackie Robinson, at least it isn't a far cry to imagine Hank's home-run swing was made for more than just himself.

And in keeping with the theme of this blog - that Barry Bonds brings the world closer to the apocalypse every time he goes yard - the current headline on Drudge - "Tomorrow's Forecast: Chaos."

Oh, and Barbaro is dead.