Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Every Party has a Pooper


Barry Bonds is about to tie and pass Babe Ruth on the all time home run list. Major League baseball has decided that they will not have any special celebration when he passes the Babe's mark. This has been a point of some contention. The commissioner's office has said that the record is 755 and that they would have a celebration of some sort if that record is broken. They have said that they are not in habit of celebrating players reaching second place on any all time list. They cite examples from the past and they would be correct.

The thing is that if this were anyone other than Barry Bonds, baseball would have been throwing a season long party to celebrate this event. If there's one thing that baseball is good at doing, it's celebrating its past. Baseball is woven together through the tapestry of the past. Players have always been compared across decades, across the century and a half of baseball history, but steroids have destroyed that. Barry Bonds isn't the only culprit of course, but he's just the most visible. He's the poster boy for all that is wrong with the game. His traveling circus this season has lead to fans becoming fairly creative with their signs; "Move your head, Barry. I can't see", "Bonds hitting home run number 715, worthless", and the most simple "*".

It's a shame really. The now tainted McGwire - Sosa home run chase of '98 brought so much positive attention to the game. Most of America watched with awe as the balls flew out of the park that summer. The same thing would be happening now if not for the fact that Barry Bonds is viewed as such a despicable character. He brought this upon himself, so we can't feel too bad for him. It's just unfortunate that what should have been a great moment will now feel so hollow. The moment will be celebrated in San Francisco, but there will be no feeling of joy anywhere else in the country. It'll be just like Mudville after the mighty Casey struck out.

I'm not going to blame the Commissioner or the owners or the sports writers or TV and Radio announcers today or even the public, for this mess. I just wanted to say how disappointing this all is. I guess we can only hope that Arod stays healthy and interested long enough to eventually break the home run record, whatever it may be. As a baseball fan, these opportunities really don't come along very often. Babe owned the all time HR record by the mid twenties, Aaron broke the record in the mid seventies and here we are in the mid '00's and we are on the threshold of another record. It should be a great thing but it's not.

Only three men in the long and storied history of the game have reached the 700 home run plateau. We actually have the privilege of watching one of those men every day. It should be a joy, but unfortunately there is no joy in Mudville, because the Mighty Casey was shooting up.

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