SirTheory’s Treatise on Life

(opinions on just about anything)

Barry Bonds

I was flipping between ESPN and the Discovery channel this evening. Mostly because a)I was bored and b)I was really quite bored. My interest in ESPN was to see if I could catch their re-cap of the Phillies game. While I watched the last few innings, and basically know everything that happened, I always like to check up on the most influential sports channel out there and see what they have to say about what happened. See what kind of opinions they are feeding to the rest of the world.

Ever since Barry Bonds came within one home run of tying the record ESPN has insisted on showing us every Bonds at-bat live. Which is actually a really cool thing. I missed the tying home run last week and wasn’t really making any plans to make sure I caught the record-breaker. But I had just switched from Discovery to ESPN when they cut to Bonds’ third at-bat of the night. And boy-howdy did he hit the son of a gun. So I figured I’d be that guy and give my opinions on what this home run means in this day and age.

What this home run will highlight more than anything is how America truly views Bonds and steroids. Regardless of “innocent until proven guilty” the reality is that most Americans feel that Bonds knowingly took steroids. I have several views that are probably not original, but perhaps may help clarify the issue for someone.

1) Even if everyone in baseball was totally clean of steroids, it is still two totally different eras of the game.  Rules are different, ballparks are different, dimensions are different, pitchers are more intelligent, hitters are more intelligent, the pitching mound is different, the goal are different. It is really. really. different. I have long been a fan of some really intelligent person figuring out what the main eras of baseball are, so that statistical records can be kept by era and not perpetually. It just makes sense that way. Because we are really not playing the same game that they played 100, 75, or 50 years ago. Or even 20 years ago.

2) Bonds’ record isn’t going to last as long as Hank Aaron’s record. Of course, I can’t say that with full certainty, but Alex Rodriguez is the youngest player to reach 500 home runs. Barring a slew of Ken Griffy Jr.-esque injuries he is a very likely candidate to over take whatever Bonds final number is.  And any one of the young home run hitters have a shot at being a career home run hitter and could stick around 20 years hitting bombs.

3) Baseball is too focused on indivudual statistic achievement. Statistics have done a lot of good for the business of baseball. But baseball isn’t a business, it is a backyard dream. Statistics take away from that spirit that made the sport so endearing during the years it was America’s favorite sport. Now instead of the game being about one team triumphing over another team, it is about so-and-so player reaching such and such milestone. While that has a certain appeal it really takes away from the game-to-game accomplishment and general goal of winning as many games as possible to try and be the ultimate victor in the World Series.

4) Cheating has always been a part of sports, especially baseball. Not only has it been a part of baseball, but it has become romanticized. The idea of a pitcher rubbing his spit into a baseball captures our imagination. That was cheating, but not only did they get away with it, but they have also been enshrined into the hall of fame as being great. No one really considered putting any asterisks beside the name of any pitcher caught putting spit on a baseball. Or if they did no one remembers it now. Granted, there is something a lot less romantic about picturing someone with a syringe in his butt… but it really is basically the same.

5) The benefits of steroids are all conjecture without any real basis in hard evidence. It follows the idea that if someone has more muscle, they will hit more home runs. Which sounds good. Yet, there are skinny people who hit home runs. Look at the afore mentioned Ken Griffy Jr.. Or even Jimmy Rollins. Perhaps if they looked like Bonds they would hit more home runs. It is hard to say. Yet we have no way to test that. You can look at Bonds numbers during a time people think he didn’t take steroids, and his numbers when they say he did, and there would be a huge difference there. But how much of that is really attributed to more muscles? How much of it would instead be due to just more experience, and getting smarter and more selective at the plate? How much would be due to studying hours of footage to learn your opponent? Remembering how he got you out last time?  There is a lot more to hitting home runs than just muscle. Heck, simply hitting the ball, let alone so you can reach base, is no easy task. Steroids sure won’t help you make contact or hit the ball fair. I have often contended that perhaps one of the biggest advantages steroids give you is mental. Kind of like the kid who thought he had magic shoes, so he won the race… only to find out the shoes were normal and it was simply the mental edge that gave him the confidence to win.

Ok. Lets stop there. I may not be right about all of those, but they are the thoughts that have allowed me to appreciate what  Bonds did this evening. Congratulations Bonds.

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August 8, 2007 - Posted by | Sports

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