Archive for May, 2006

…. Sick and tired

I am. Sick and tired. Sick and tired by all the anti-Barry crap. Sick and tired of the endless “in the old days, so and so was a true gentleman,” or some other version of that horseshit about Aaron, or Mays or Ruth or whoever. Sick and tired of the sanctimonious, the righteous, the “God save the children’s”. For crying’ out loud…. Let. It. Go.

In as simple a way as possible, Stick & Ball Guy reminds everyone what so many seem to have forgotten:

Superstar athletes are human beings.

Some are assholes.

Some aren’t.

Some are great people.

Some aren’t.

Ruth wasn’t the devil. He also wasn’t the nicest guy in the world. He was a huge drinker, at a time when alcohol was about as legal as steroids are today. He was a womanizer, cheating on his wife constantly. He was a glutton, a problem in the clubhouse (he and Gehrig famously didn’t speak for years), he was considered, at best, a pain in the ass, by every team he played for. To suggest that Ruth, Aaron, or Mays or whoever was somehow exempt from being a human being borders on ignorance at the highest level. No hero is without flaw, as none of us are.

Reading this telling us what Bonds’ legacy will be, is a clear and depressing reflection of how far our journalistic standards have fallen, (And I know we’re talking about a sports journalist. Ten or fifteen years ago, SI wouldn’t have printed a piece like this on toilet paper.)

In the meantime, the greatest player of our generation has to go to media school so that he can come across as a nice guy for the media:

…. Bonds said it would hurt if, after he is done playing, an asterisk was put next to his records.

“It would hurt. I would be disappointed,” he said. He also said he didn’t know if that would happen but in his heart he believes it will happen.

However, he told Gray that he doesn’t believe Major League Baseball is attacking him personally by investigating steroid use; he thinks baseball is doing what is best for baseball by looking at the whole period.

Bonds talked a lot about how he’s trying to change and be a happier person. He’s working hard to react better to questions that he considers stabbing. He said he wants to be liked.

Yeah, I would too, if every single day, another sports report came out telling the world what a dick I was; regardless of whether I was or not. See, that’s the part no Bonds attacker wants to confront:

It doesn’t matter anymore if he is or isn’t; if he did or didn’t. The shameless personal attacks, the singling him out, how Verducci has conveniently forgotten his thousands of words telling us how “everyone’s using steroids” ….. What an embarassing chapter in baseball’s history. You want to blame Bonds for this? Please. Blame SI. Blame ESPN. Blame Lupica and his friends. Blame Selig. Blame everyone, before you try and tell me it’s all on Barry. Interesting how the media didn’t go after McGwire (or Sosa, for that matter) until after he wasn’t in front of them every day. Then again, he was a great clubhouse guy, right?

…. Alone in second

…. We are family

As a SF Giants fan, I’ve said it many times, and in many different ways, but ESPN’s Brian Murphy says it best:

…. WE can think what we want about Bonds. WE can be disappointed by his guilt. YOU, on the other hand, don’t understand the history, the journey, the ride we’ve been on.

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YOU don’t remember the 90 losses in 1992, the potential St. Petersburg Giants. YOU weren’t there that day when Pacific Bell Park opened, and the Giants had the prettiest park in the land, the House that Barry Built. It’s family. WE can talk about our family, judge our family. YOU, on the other hand, are an outsider. You are not family. You are not to judge.

Thanks to reader Jay for the link.

…. An Interview with Jeff Pearlman

…. Ruth’s record

Barry Bonds finally caught the Babe, hitting his 714th home run yesterday, in a win against the Oakland A’s. For some perspective on the accomplishment, here’s Mike Lupica:

…. With Bonds, we are caught in this terrible place, as fascinated as we are by him, because he is a terrible guy. We are caught between belief and disbelief, knowing what a great player he was, what an amazing talent he was, before he got this big, before BALCO, and this book “Game of Shadows” made us believe the worst about him. The way we believe the worst about players playing now, without the kind of evidence the writers of “Game of Shadows” got on Bonds.

It should have been a fine baseball day yesterday, even if Bonds only went into second place on the all-time list. It was not. Because it was him, on this home-run Saturday in baseball. It was history, all right, just the wrong kind, from the wrong guy.

And here’s Murray Chass:

…. Bonds is easily the most controversial player in baseball today, maybe the most controversial in baseball ever, maybe the most controversial in any sport. The steroid scandal has elevated him to that status. Has he or hasn’t he? Did he hit a significant number of his 714 home runs because he used steroids or other illegal performance-enhancing substances?

We don’t know. We suspect he did. Most people probably think he did. If a substantial percentage of his 714 were chemically aided, maybe he doesn’t deserve to be placed in Ruth’s class.

Ruth ate hot dogs and drank beer. If either helped him hit home runs, more players should have followed his example. They might have fattened themselves, but they would have been better hitters.

It’s not likely, though, that Ruth’s diet played a role in home run history. If Bonds used steroids, they undoubtedly have.

One argument has been set forth that is designed to mitigate the accusations that Bonds would not have hit 209 home runs in a four-year period (2001-4) without using steroids. Pitchers, the argument goes, have also used steroids and would have been tougher for Bonds and others to hit. In other words, they might have all been cheating, but they were doing it on a level playing field.

And here’s me:

Congratulations, Barry. There can be no doubt that it took a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication and sacrifice and pain to get to this point in your career. So much has been written about all of the perks you enjoy, the size of your entourage, the recliner; that it is easy to forget that, steroids or not, you work as hard as any athlete in any sport ever has, and have for going on two decades. I will continue to marvel at an athlete who is willing to pay the price to get the most out your ability, even now, 20 seasons into your career. An athlete that has every reason in the world to retire, to quit and finally relax, out of the spotlight; but refuses. Whether you pass Aaron or not, it has been quite a ride.

…. Talk talk

…. Friends in high places

…. Hammin’ it up

For those of you who’d like to hear my voice, I was on AOL Sportsbloggers Live, earlier today. Here’s the link. I certainly was guilty of repeating some of the BS I sling here, and it was funny to hear the different ways people can pronounce my name.

Anyway, take a listen. I thought I did pretty well, actually.

…. Stumble, bumble, fumble and glum

The Giants are 14-14 after yesterday’s 8-4 loss to the Brewers. The whole league seems to be batting .400 with 80 home runs and ten thousand RBI, but the Giants boast one of the weakest lineups this side of Triple AAA. Of course, who really expected it to be different?

Matheny, Feliz, Neikro, Vizcaino, Sweeney, and Vizquel are all the same player. Ray Durham spends all of his time in one of three places; the DL, months-long slumps, or 20 game-hitting streaks. He’s now in the midst his third consecutive slow start, and that, along with Bonds’ inability to get back to normal, Steve Finley hitting like a 40-year old, and Moises Alou breaking down again, and you’re looking at one of the worst offenses in the entire league. That Sabean and Magowan could sit down and decide that these are the players they want, with all of the good, young players out there, is beyond belief.

And, yes, I’ve heard about Sabean tapping an unwanted resource, these old/older players. This team has taken that approach to its absurd conclusion. Every day it seems we hear about another record; oldest starting outfield, oldest infield, oldest lineup, oldest this, oldest that. How about best? Best catcher, best right fielder, best infield? Best #2 hitter, best lineup? El Lefty Malo put it best when he said that the Giants have four #8 hitters in their lineup every day. I’m supposed to believe that this team can compete with the Cardinals or the Mets or the Astros? In what universe?

Ahhhh…. I knew this coming in. From the end of the 2002 World Series through today, the Giants have gotten worse and worse, position by position. Randy Winn and Jason Schmidt represent the two deals Sabean has pulled off since ’02 that have worked. I don’t have the time to complain about the $70 million dollars he wasted on Alfonzo, Neifi, Reuter’s extension, JT Snow, Double Play AJ. How about Armando Benitez, well on his way to becoming a $27 million dollar garbage can. Could a little research into his workout habits have given us some indication that he was another Livan, working on burritos instead of weights?

Where is the silver lining for this team right now? It’s pretty obvious that if Bonds does start hitting again, teams will not let him beat them. And why should they, with Mark Sweeney batting fifth?

…. Pay attention

Last May, I attended a press screening for the movie Up for Grabs. It was a terrific movie that I laughed my way through. For a Giants fan, it has to be considered a can’t miss hit. Here’s what I said last year:

…. In a way, some of the highlights made me feel a little sad, because that energy and excitement is somewhat diminished. The constant carping and moralizing by announcers, talking heads, sportswriters and the dummies we voted into Congress about how steroids has ruined the game, how these great ball players have ruined our lives and dashed our hopes….. You know, for me, it’s not these ballplayers who’ve ruined it. It’s all the moralizing and demonizing and finger-pointing…. it’s the ruinous, irresponsible innuendo and speculation that’s really hurt the game.

When you see Up for Grabs, you’ll remember. You’ll remember what these players gave us. You’ll remember how it felt to be there when they did it. I was there for about ten Bonds home runs in 2001, (including, I think, number 57). I remember. I was there for Bonds’ 660th (actually, it was his 600th). These were magical, incredible, amazing moments in sports history. Watching Bonds hit #73 literally brought tears to my eyes, made me shiver. I watched McGwire hit his 62nd home run, watched him hug everybody in sight. Watched him skip around the bases like a little boy, high-fiving the Cubs players as he rounded the bases, and the Cardinal fans go absolutely berserk. Magical. I’ll never forget it. McGwire doesn’t owe me an apology. He doesn’t owe me a Goddamn thing. I owe him. I owe Bonds.

Now he’s a cheat, Bonds is a cheat? They hurt me? Ruined baseball for me? Verducci is ruining baseball. Bill Madden telling me that he’s gonna make sure that McGwire’s name goes down in infamy, he’s ruining the game.

Mike Wrankovics, the man who made the film, has sent me an email telling me that you can see it tonight, 11pm, on Spike TV. I don’t get Spike TV, but you might. Check it out if you can.

All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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