Monthly Archives: December 2004

Cease and Desist – The pink hats have got to go

My brother and I have an ongoing debate. This debate reached epic proportions around the dinner table on Christmas Eve with the added input of Manley sisters Beth, Jen and Carolyn and Carolyn’s charming boyfriend, Butch. We argued about the disturbing phenomenon of pink Red Sox hats. Well, disturbing if you’re me, Beth or Jen, adorable if you’re Kevin or Carolyn (who owns one). If you’re Butchie, you reside firmly on the fence because it was in fact you who bought said hat for your girlfriend and you realize that you’d do well to keep your mouth shut in this debate less someone call you to the carpet for supporting the bleacher bimbo industry.

Now, I have no problem with women supporting their favorite sports teams. Quite the contrary. If you’ve read any of my entries before you undoubtedly know that I wear my rooting passions on my sleeve. Or on my head. In the form of a hat. A blue one.

I am of the mind that the colors of the Red Sox (or the Patriots for that matter as this pink hat nonsense has started to creep into NFL merchandising as well), are red, blue and white. Not pink. And yes, I realize that pink is simply red and white combined but this is not a freakin’ Valentine’s Day card, it’s a baseball hat. Why you need a special color scheme to let the rest of the world know you’re a girl is beyond me.

My brother tried to get me to admit that it is the girls who wear such hats that I have such hatred for and not the hats themselves. He may have a point though I would only go so far as to admit to hating what the hats “represented.” As far as what that means, I can only assume that there is some evil little man in some evil little office somewhere deep in the recesses of the Major League Baseball marketing department and he’s watching men across the country dragging their girlfriends to baseball games and wondering how he could make the game more “girl friendly” because clearly buff atheletes in tight pants and the presence of Gabe Kapler are not enough. (Bye, Gabe! Enjoy Japan. We’ll miss you!) And whilst twisting his evil little mustache he got the “Eureka!” idea to start making team apparel in “girly” colors. Hence the pink hats. And now there are pink jerseys. This must stop.

My problem is not with female sports fans. My problem is not with the color pink. My problem is not even with guys dragging their girlfriends to the parks because they want them to have a common interest. My problem is that creating a subset of athletic apparel specifically for a certain demographic is demeaning and panders to women. I don’t care if women don’t like sports. I don’t care if some girls don’t know the difference between a touchdown and a home run. I don’t care if they’d rather spend their time doing their nails and shopping for shoes. Hell, I love a new pair of shoes as much as the next person. What I hate is that Major League Baseball is essentially saying, “We know you don’t really care about baseball and you’re only here because your boyfriend made you come but look, we made a cute little pink hat just for you so you can be a fan too.” It’s like they’re making it easier on people to pretend to be fans. And I don’t like it. If you want to be a fan, you can damn well wear a blue hat with a red “B” just like the rest of us. Hell, you can go retro and get yourself a Pat Patriot hat with old school logo if you want. Go crazy with the throwback jerseys too. But do it because you support the team and the players and not because you saw J-Lo wearing the same thing in a video where Ben Affleck grabbed her ass.

Perhaps I’m too sensitive about this. Perhaps I’m making too much out of it. And maybe my brother is right, it’s the girls who wear the hats whom I truly can’t stand (except for Carolyn because she is lovely and knows baseball and smells like flowers and kittens). But I do feel that the pink hats are a transparent attempt to appeal to the bleacher bimbos with the overly processed blonde hair who to go games and sit beside their boyfriends and whine that it’s cold and that their feet hurt when no one told them to wear fake fur and high heeled boots to a freakin’ baseball game in late October, especially one at Fenway Park which is only NINETY years old and is known neither for its comfort nor its warmth and they are taking the seat away from someone who would gladly sever an arm for the privilege of squeezing ourselves into a slot-backed chair made for someone in 1912 who was three feet tall and weighed sixty-eight pounds and not complain about it but would instead enjoy the game and not only not bitch to your boyfriend but also chat him up about the fact that Pokey hasn’t been the same since hurting his toe and would even buy him a beer because he would get the next round. And we would wear a BLUE hat with a RED “B” on it while we do so. Because we are not making a fashion statement. We are supporting our team. If you don’t want to be here, don’t come. Leave your pink hat at home and go get that manicure. We’ll keep your boyfriend company over a plate of hot wings at Boston Beer Works after the game.

I simply cannot abide the pink Red Sox hats. And the Patriots hats? Please, can you think of anything less likely to say “smashmouth football” than a powder pink hat with a tastefully rendered “Flying Elvis” logo? Perhaps needlepoint bench cushions for the players on the sidelines? I feel bad for people who’s favorite team wears purple or teal (sorry Vikings and Panthers fans but there are no less threatening colors in sports) and I would feel very, very sorry for New Orleans Hornets fans if any existed since the sartorial transgressions of both purple AND teal adorn those uniforms. But unless you are a 12-year-old girl in 1992, there is no excuse. I don’t even consider pink a particularly girly color. Men can wear pink all they want, no thanks to Russell Simmons. But it does not belong in a sporting arena. And it does not belong on your head. Stop it. Stop it now.

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The Fat Man, the Diva and Edgar

So, David Wells, huh? Yeah that’s probably going to take me a while to get used to. It’s not so much that he’s not a good pitcher. Because, he is. He’s a good, solid lefty starter. He’s a proven postseason performer. He’s a big game pitcher. All that is great. It’s that he’s David Wells. And, you know, despite what people say to pump him up, he can’t very well stop being David Wells. People say that you can learn to love anyone provided they try to earn your love. And they’re probably right. But I have spent the better part of my life, or at least from 1997 on actively hating David Wells. And not in a “I don’t like that guy because we can’t figure out a way to beat him” way. Or even a “That guy plays for my enemy and therefore, by the transitive property, that guy is my enemy” way. But more like a “blinding, white supernovas of hatred are shooting from my eyes every time he appears on screen” way. ‘Cause, yeah, he’s David Wells. He’s the Fat Man. He’s Blubber Butt. He’s a drunken slob. He’s many more unprintable things that I’ve called him throughout the years.

Prior to the Sheffield infusion this season, David Wells and Jorge Posada were my two most hated Yankees. No, not Jeter. That’s too easy. And Jeter, despite what he represents, plays hard and seems to genuinely respect the game. He looks like a Muppet even though the media (read: Fox Sports) have brainwashed the masses into believing he’s cute but whatever, good looks are not a prerequisite for good ballplayers. See also: Randy Johnson. But there was something about Posada’s rat face and Wells’ complete disregard for the finer points of the game that really irritated me. Posada has no chin and a sorry excuse for an ass so I can usually comfort myself by saying that at least our catcher is hotter. But Wells just irked me. He calls himself a “throwback.” I called him a jackass. And now he’s on my team. I have to root for him. I have to call him “Boomer” without even a hint of irony.

We keep hearing about how his “colorful personality” as Larry Lucchino put it, is going to fit in so well with Boston’s self-proclaimed idiots. Um, maybe. Then why do I see a powderkeg ready to explode? Curt Schilling is notoriously loquacious and I think we all know how Schilling feels about various things, (the Yankees, ALS, Ford Trucks, the President, the war, Pedro), but Schilling also has an extremely intense work ethic. Wells, to be kind, doesn’t. I suppose it’s possible that these two can share a clubhouse without actively trying to kill each other. But I wouldn’t expect them to be best friends.

Besides, Wells is completely bald. How is he going to fit in with the Mannys, Damons and Arroyos of the world? Ah well, I suppose now Kevin Millar has a drinking buddy.

That said, I think it’s probably a good thing that the Fat Man (I shall continue to refer to him as such until he deems himself worthy of a new nickname. Or until he beats the Yankees, whichever comes first), is not moving into a rotation with Pedro Martinez. Our Dominican Diva is not ours any longer and while I do feel a bit sad about the whole thing, I think it’s the right solution to what would have become an increasingly complex problem. Pedro is 33. That is not old but have you seen Pedro Martinez lately? He’s a small man with a small frame and freakishly long fingers. If I’m the Red Sox, I’m betting on Pedro not being, you know, Pedro in four years. Hell, Pedro wasn’t Pedro this year. There were times when he pitched well, brilliantly even. But there were more times when he made us nervous. The Pedro of old didn’t make us nervous. The Pedro of old was a guaranteed “W.” The Pedro of old shut up, did his business and played baseball. Today’s Pedro is different.

What surprises me the most about the whole thing is that people are surprised he took the money. Pedro calls it “respect.” We all know what he means. We’ve seen his diva act for the past seven years and by and large, we let it slide. It’s fine when he’s on your side. It’s even kind of endearing at times. Pedro’s a badass and a headhunter but he was our badass and headhunter and if you don’t like it, well you can damn well step into the box and face his 97 mph fastball. We put up with it because he always proved his point.

This year, he stopped making his point so clearly. Yes, he’s still a wonderful pitcher and the Mets got a gamer for a few years. I hope they enjoy him. But lately, it seemed that Pedro needed more help. Pedro needed defensive brilliance behind him or baserunning blunders in front of him (Thanks again, Jeff Suppan!) to get out of jams. There were still times when he could twirl it with the best of them but for the first time this year, Pedro labored. He actually admitted that he couldn’t beat someone. Or don’t you remember that “The Yankees are my daddy” business? We’d never seen that before. The old Pedro did not get beat. The old Pedro was too proud for that.

I don’t think this is a case of the Red Sox bailing on a player once he begins to show signs of mortality. Far from it. I just think they were making the smart move by refusing to mortgage their future to satisfy their aging present while still showing the necessary “respect” to one of their own. And I think it was the right move. That Pedro didn’t bite and chose to pack it up and head to New York is his decision. I wish him the best there. Who knows, maybe he’ll pull a Roger Clemens, undergo a resurgence and toss two Cy Young seasons. Good for him if he does. I hope his contract doesn’t become an albatross, the likes of which the Mets are so familiar with (Oh hello, Mo Vaughn). I hope both sides get what they want from this deal. But I’m glad the Red Sox held their ground. Pedro Martinez is no longer a member of the Red Sox and that’s okay. I don’t know that I wanted to see arguably the best pitcher of my generation fade away. Because something tells me that Pedro will not go quietly. He is too good a pitcher and too proud a man for that.

While Theo let Pedro walk and brought the Fat Man to the buffet, the Nation was up in arms over what we viewed as the shadiness of our team. The team that will set out April 11th to raise the Championship banner and receive their World Series rings (in front of the Yankees, no less. Bug Selig, sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I just want to hug you!), is shaping up to look remarkably different than the team that hoisted the trophy in the parade a few weeks back. We’ve lost a starting pitcher, we still haven’t signed our catcher (Theo? Seriously, I’m warning you on this one. Do not dick around), we lost our franchise shortstop and the guy that replaced him probably isn’t coming back either. Derek Lowe is in the Witness Protection Program somewhere and even our team doctor is gone. But at least, as of today, we have a new shortstop. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome the shortstop of the 2005 (and 2006, 2007, 2008 and possibly 2009) Boston Red Sox, Edgar Renteria!

What can I say, Theo? Score! Many of you will remember Renteria as the unfortunate soul who hit the weak grounder to Foulke which ended the game, the series, the crying and the wailing and gnashing of teeth of 86 years of Red Sox fans. And to think, the poor guy is going to have to see that clip replayed over and over ad nauseum for years to come. Because, yeah, we aren’t liable to let that go anytime soon.

But Renteria is a good player. A great player even. I don’t think the Sox overpaid either as they’re getting him for roughly $10 million a year which is less than the $15 million annually that Nomar reportedly turned down in spring training last year. Wow, does that seem like decades ago or what? Renteria is also only 29-years-old. He’s younger than Nomar, Jeter, A-Rod and Cabrera. His range is second only to Royce Clayton whom you’ve never heard of before because he plays for the Colorado Rockies and they have the dual misfortunes of wearing purple and sucking so very hard. By contrast, Renteria comes to us from the Cardinals. Admittedly, the last time we saw the Cardinals they were trying to get out of the way of a Red Sox-shaped freight train but make no mistake about it, the Cardinals are a good baseball team. And Renteria was a large reason why.

Thinking about this guy in the number two slot behind Damon gets me all hyped for spring training. His defense is excellent as well. I’m really excited about this guy. Theo and company apparently outbid St. Louis and Detroit for Renteria’s services and his comments about the team, calling them “traditional” and “winners” are already rubbing New Englanders the right way.

That’s the thing about the Hot Stove League, there are ups and downs, sometimes on the same day. A new guy comes in, an old guy leaves. You miss out on the hotshot starter but you stage a coup and steal a coveted rookie. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Now, Theo, about that starting catcher position…

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Just Two Months Before Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training

I miss baseball, y’all. And I don’t mean in the way you miss a favorite TV show before the new season starts or the way you long for how the pizza place on the corner used to make the best pizza around before switching to the sauce that’s too sweet. I mean I really, truly, honestly miss baseball. I miss getting home at 6:15 and knowing that pre-game starts in fifteen minutes. I miss knowing that there is always, always something on television. I miss the sound of the crowd and the way Jerry Remy butchers the Spanish language by saying “Buenos noches, amigos” while demonstrating how to use the SAP button. I miss how you can always hear that nutbag in Tampa Bay who sits right behind the plate and picks one opposing player to rag on for the entire series. I miss shots of Terry Francona rocking back and forth like Rain Man on Vicodin in the dugout. I miss arguments with my ex-boyfriend over whether or not Johnny Damon is the best lead-off hitter in the AL, besides Ichiro (yes, yes his is and don’t even give me the Derek Jeter argument). I miss the clever patterns the groundskeepers cut into the grass. And yes, I miss Jason Varitek’s thighs. But mostly, I just miss the game.

It’d be easy to say that I miss it because this season ended so well for my team. Not that “well,” is the proper word for it. More like “nearly two months later I still break out into spontaneous giggles when I catch a glimpse of the David Ortiz Wheaties box that sits on top of my TV.” But in truth, the winning probably makes me miss baseball less. Last year, I missed them even more. And it wasn’t because of the losing. Sure, that hurt but, come on, Aaron Boone? I missed baseball because as soon as Boone’s shot cleared the upper deck it hit me, I would have to go a whole five months without seeing my boys again. A whole five months without a chance to avenge a loss. A whole five months without hanging out with my friends.

I know, it sounds pathetic. But when you spend an entire seven months, day in and day out reading about, following and watching the same twenty-five men (with the occasional Cesar Crespo and Lenny Dinardo thrown in for good measure), you start to really care about them. And not just their batting average. You notice little things about them that only seasoned fans see. You know that Varitek always turns his toes in when he hits from the left side and you know that Kevin Millar wiggles his bat back and forth to the point where it actually extends in front of his batting helmet. You know that Papi always spits on his left hand and slaps his palms together in between pitches and you spend an inordinate amout of time wondering after the poor soul who has to collect his batting gloves. You know that Cabrera scoots down until he looks like a tiny, wiry, compact spring ready to pounce and before The Trade, you could imitate Nomar’s OCD batting routine right down to the last toe tap. You wonder if Mark Bellhorn even knows what inning it is and if he’d get to first base faster if you told him the opposing team’s uniforms were covered in Cheeto dust because brother looks stoned.

I miss this.

I miss the arguments that go along with baseball. I miss the way my dad and I call each other after every big game and dissect, nearly pitch for pitch what just happened. Hot stove discussions and arguments are one thing but there are only so many times I can have the “Jason Varitek isn’t worth $10 million a year,” “Yes he is, I can’t hear you, LA LA LA!” argument before it’s time to move on. That’s the great thing about baseball. There’s something new to dissect and discuss and spit about and swear at and research and scream at and argue over every night.

I miss getting into it with Yankees fans and giving them that look. The look that says, “Were there not laws expressly forbidding such behavior, I would very much enjoy ripping off your head with my bare hands and stuffing it down your neck sideways.” I miss having a nemesis. Trades and Winter Meetings and attempted out-maneuverings are fine but the game is still played on the field and “Ha! We swiped Curt Schilling from under your nose!” doesn’t have quite the same satisfaction to it if Curt Schilling does not then proceed to march out onto the field and make you look like a bunch of flailing beginner swimmers in the batters’ box.

I miss loving Johnny Damon unconditionally even if, just maybe, he’s more than a little insane and he keeps running into things with abandon. Walls, fences, other players. I miss his hair and the fact that at every Sox game, no matter where they were playing, you would find a group of people dressed up in wigs and beards and calling themselves the Damon Disciples. I miss weirdos.

I even miss Pedro’s antics and the histrionics the local media gets into every year when he leaves early for the All-Star break. He may be a Dominican Diva but he’s our Dominican Diva. For now, anyway.

And I don’t just feel this missing so acutely because of my fan affiliation or rooting interests. I spent a week this past summer traveling from Philadelphia to Tampa Bay to Atlanta to check out the ballparks. Only one – Atlanta – involved the Red Sox. I loved just sitting in the stands in Philly with a watered down ballpark beer and a $1 hotdog (I know!) and just watching a meaningless June game between the underachieving Phillies and the hapless Expos because for once, I didn’t have to work myself into a fanatical fit over who would win the game. Each pitch was not greeted with a gasp and each hit did not induce dry-heaving. I was just enjoying the game.

It sounds so pastoral and so very “The Boys of Summer” but I miss caring so much about something that, really, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t mean that much. I miss spending a good six hours a day either watching, reading about or someone related to the information gathering of baseball. I miss peppering daily conversations or emails to my dad with phrases like “Manny’s hammies” or “Pokey’s range.” I miss my righteous snits wherein I scream unintelligible things like, “Goddamit, Bellhorn, YOUAREAWASTEOFSPACE!” and throwing the pasta spoon across the kitchen. I miss burning garlic bread because I can’t see the television from the kitchen and every time I hear Don Orsillo say, “Full count, runners are going,” I have to drop whatever I’m doing and rush in front of the TV to see the payoff. I miss inflicting pain on my couch pillows and dancing in my bedroom to the strains of “Dirty Water” when things end well.

I miss bars and beers and the fact that you can run up to strangers wearing the same hat as you and scream “Papi!” into their face and you’re liable to be greeted with a high-five rather than a restraining order. I miss the ups and downs, the slumps and streaks, the wins and losses. I miss my boys. I miss baseball.

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I Can’t See Around Barry Bonds’ Giant Head

So everyone that knows me and knows that I can’t keep my eyes off a sports section or away from obsessively checking ESPN.com every seventeen seconds has asked me for my take on this steroid business. ‘Cause y’all know if it’s sports related, Kristen has an opinion on it. See my previous “Can we all just shut the hell up about Peyton Manning?” rant. But here’s the thing, where this steroid thing is concerned, I’m a little more neutral. I know, shocking, but allow me to explain.

Two weeks ago or so, it came out that in his grand jury testimony, Jason Giambi admitted to using steroids. A sports-obsessed nation clutched its’ collective pearls and tsk tsked and we read about the Yankees attempting to dump Giambi and his prohibitively large contract once they had proof that it was through his own doing that he became little more than the world’s most expensive paperweight this year. And then we all moved on. For a day or so.

Then, we found out that Barry Bonds, “Mr. 73 homers in a season,” “Mr. Assault on Hammerin’ Hank’s Homer record,” “Mr. Buy Some Kentucky Fried Popcorn Chicken or I will crush you with my comically large head,” also took steroids. Now here’s what surprised me. People were shocked. Shocked and appalled. That Barry Bonds took steroids. Read that again. This speaks to a more clueless national consciousness than the fact that the public was surprised that Ashlee Simpson used backing vocals on Saturday Night Live. At least that one, I suppose you could be all, “But it’s called ‘Saturday Night Live’ so I just assumed…” Yeah. Okay. But can you honestly tell me that you believed Barry when he said that he’d never knowingly taken steroids? For real? You believed a man who, prior to his 73 long balls which set the major league record, his previous high was 49 the year before? You believe that a 36-year-old would magically get 24 homers better over the span of one year? And more to the point, have you seen Barry Bonds? Have you looked at his Popeye muscles lately? Have you noticed that he has trouble fitting his head through a regulation-sized clubhouse door and that ain’t just because of the ego crammed in there?

Sportswriters and radio show hosts are all up in arms about what to do regarding Bonds’ past and eventual records. Was he on the juice when he hit 73 homers? What about if he breaks Hank Aaron’s record? What then? And it goes beyond Bonds. Once you start those arguments you get into the whole “Mark McGwire was on Andro when he set what was at the time the single season home run record in 1998 with 70 and even though Andro wasn’t banned then it is now so isn’t that kind of unfair?” thing. And what about Giambi’s 2001 MVP year? What of that? Does that not count anymore? Or, if you’re a Red Sox fan, what about Giambi’s two ‘roid-enhanced home runs in last year’s ALCS Game 7, without which, New York surely wouldn’t have won the game and the Red Sox would have had to talk about “85’ing the Curse?” What of that?

It’s a particularly messy and unpleasant can of worms. More so because baseball, more than any other sport is obsessed with history. You cannot toss a knuckleball without hitting someone’s run at a record. This year it was Ichiro who broke George Sisler’s single-season hit record. Next year, it’ll be something else. And the problem becomes that much more difficult when you realize that baseball is, by and large, defined by its past. It is a historic game that has remained largely unchanged for the past century or so. The game that Ted Williams and Ty Cobb played is the same game that Bonds, McGwire and Giambi play. There are still ninety feet between bases and thanks to a Curt Schilling Ford Truck commercial repeated ad nauseum this year, everyone in Red Sox Nation knows that there are still 60 feet, six inches between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. There are still three outfielders, four infielders, a catcher and a pitcher. The positions haven’t changed, and for the most part, neither have the rules. So what of these new records? Many argue that players have gotten bigger and stronger naturally and as such, the games’ records will change. Fair point. But what about the ones that have gotten bigger and stronger through unnatural methods? How does that change history?

This is the part of the argument where it gets a little sticky. I’ve heard the argument – hell, I’ve even used it myself in the past – that steroids, unlike gambling (another no-no or haven’t you heard of Pete Rose?) affects only one player and does not tarnish the integrity of the game. I disagree. I would argue that it does, and how. Let’s say that Barry Bonds eventually breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record – something that seems nearly a given at this point. And let’s say he was on steroids for at least part of his record-setting seasons. Does that not tarnish the integrity of the game? Is Hank Aaron, long synonomous with the game of baseball, not shafted? Is Babe Ruth not unfairly pushed aside? And what of the players who have never used steroids? What glory do they get because they’ve chosen to play the game the right way and use their talent and hard work to get ahead? Many argue that players who use steroids only hurt themselves. I disagree. They hurt every other player, past, present and future who will eventually be listed below them on an “all-time” stat sheet. They hurt the fans who pay lots of money to watch men compete in a pure game of sport. They hurt high school and college players who, whether they admit it or not, hold these pros up as role models and emulate their behavior. And yes, they hurt themselves. But most of all, they hurt the game of baseball. They are saying that they, the players are above the game by essentially declaring, “It’s not enough for me to get paid millions of dollars to play a little boy’s game. I need all the records and adulations too. Even if I have to get them unfairly.” It’s the ultimate disrespect. In a sport where history is the game and the pursuit of history is what we all play for, aren’t unfair means to an end the ultimate disrespect to the game of baseball? I think so.

The matter of punishment is more difficult. No one is going to admit that steroids aren’t all that bad or that those who choose to use them shouldn’t be punished. But what someone says and what someone does are two completely different things. On the one hand, we all understand that steroids = bad but on the other hand, home runs sure are fun to watch. On the one hand, what about the high school kids who start popping pills? But on the other hand, that home run chase is really helping us sell tickets. Baseball has itself in a tight spot. Partly because it’s so difficult to determine exactly what effect steroids have on a player’s abilities in the first place.

My dad has always said, “It’s still a round bat and a round ball,” and he is right. Barry Bonds is an excellent baseball player, with or without the use of steroids. As is Jason Giambi. And Gary Sheffield. But therein lies the problem. What if you’re not that good? Jeremy Giambi, Jason’s brother, has also admitted to using steroids. No one cares. Red Sox fans will remember Jeremy Giambi primarily as the distraction that we flirted with at first base in the beginning of the 2003 season while making David Ortiz ride the pine. That didn’t work out well. (Also, Papi? We’re sorry. We’ll never doubt you again. Who wants fried plantains?) But no one has yet come up with a scientifically quantifiable way of determining exactly how much better a player becomes after using steroids. It’s just as reasonable to assume that at least as many players become worse because the excess muscle mass messes with their timing and coordination. But the problem is that we just don’t know.

So does Barry Bonds get an asterisk in the record books? Honestly, I don’t know. He will argue that history will punish him harshly enough simply because from here on out, no one will be able to have a discussion about Bonds’ records without mentioning steroids. Perhaps that’s true. But eventually, these things get lost in the shuffle. When people talk about Rogers Hornsby they don’t often mention that he was a member of the Klan. So what’s to say that in fifty or sixty years people will say of Bonds, “Yeah, he was good. Hit some monster bombs. Best hitter I’ve ever seen. Big head, though.”?

I don’t know what the proper punishment is. I don’t know if the stain of history is enough or if a more tangible asterisk is needed. What I do know is that somewhere, Ted Williams, long believed to be the “best hitter who ever lived,” has approached Bobby Bonds, Barry’s father and said, “Listen, buddy, you best get a message to your son because that is my title and I did it the right way.”

So maybe instead of vilifying the Giambis’ and Bonds’ of the world, we should pay tribute to the Aarons’ and the Williams’ and the DiMaggios’ and recognize that, though they may be surpassed, those guys did some pretty impressive things too. And they did it in a time when steroids weren’t an issue. They weren’t saints, hell, if you can find me a professional athlete who is then you are more idealistic than I. But those accomplishments are something to be remembered. Let’s not forget the old players, the ones who played with nothing more in their bloodstream than a pint of whisky and some pine tar.

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