sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Monday, May 08, 2006

.....I just sat around last night, reading and watching the Phillies-Giants game on TV. Every now and then I would glance up to see if Barry Bonds was coming to bat. I realized this really could be the night that Bonds ties Babe Ruth's home run record. I asked myself if this is something I really wanted to see. What the hell, I told myself. If it happens, it happens.

In my ongoing effort to be an open-minded human being, I asked myself why I don't like Barry Bonds. I don't know him, and I personally don't know whether or not he used performance-enhancing drugs, in spite of the evidence that he did. A big part of it is the fact that I've never really cared for his team.This dislike goes back to the old MLB alignment, when the Giants were the Reds' divisional rivals. It seemed as though the Reds always had a tough time winning in Candlestick Park.

Just looking at Bonds is tough, too. Anybody disagree that Bonds radiates arrogance? Listening to his three-man cheering squad of Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Peter Gammons talk about how frustrated Bonds has been over fan reaction during the Giants' road trip didn't help matters any. Poor Bonds, I thought to myself.

Fortunately, Michael Sokolove's N.Y. Times review of two books on Bonds helped ease my conscience a bit.

In case you haven't heard, 'Game of Shadows' alleges "that Bonds participated in a sophisticated doping program that resulted in a late-career offensive surge unheard-of in baseball history. Over his first 13 seasons, Bonds hit a home run every 16.1 at-bats; from 1999 through 2004, he hit one every 8.5 at-bats.

"The book is economical in its character study of Bonds, which is wise because what the authors do include just confirms his well-established reputation for boorishness. Its real strength comes in the connections it makes between the baseball doping scandal and the wider culture of drugs in international sports. "

Meanwhile, Jeff Pearlman's 'Love Me, Hate Me' "tracks down Bonds's former teachers, scout leaders, neighbors and teammates from Little League up through the majors — more than 500 people total. The legwork is impressive, but nearly everyone says a version of the same thing — that Bonds is a thoroughly miserable guy. The kind of person who throws sweat socks on the floor just to watch the clubhouse attendant stoop to pick them up."

OK, I feel better. But I hear what you're saying: If it bothers me that much, I should just change the channel.


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