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Friday, May 05, 2006

Comments

I would include myself in both the Pro-Babe Ruth crowd and the Anti-Barry Bonds crowd. Really there are just too many reasons not to like this guy.

I liked Jason's phrase of "raping the game of its purity" in describing Bonds. I agree. The "Babe" only abused alcohol and nicotine. Bobby Bonds must be rolling over in his grave.

I know this is an unpopular stance, but I have a hard time getting more worked up about Bonds than about, say, Gaylord "Spitball" Perry or Don "Nailfile" Sutton. let alone the conveniently retired Mark McGwire or suspiciously untalented Sammy Sosa. hate Bonds because he's a jackass, but as a cheater he's hardly alone.

The problem with going down this road is that it is too easy to become a hypocrite. If Bonds should be disgraced for steroids, how about Jason Giambi? Sure, you say. OK, what about Lenny Dykstra? Um, uh....

Clout, absolutely. Anyone who boos Bonds tonight ought to damn well boo Dykstra when he comes back for the latest reunion.

I don't really see how you can compare Bonds to Gaylord "Spitball" Perry or Don "Nailfile" Sutton. Last time I checked, spitting on a baseball and using a nail file aren't felonies. The whole "Baseball never had a rule against steroid use" argument is bogus - MLB also doesn't have a rule against murder, does that mean players can kill each other? Using steroids is (and has been) against the law, period. And I have no respect for any professional athlete who uses them, whether they're a Phillie or not.

for the record, I don't like defending Bonds because I don't like him. but I think he gets turned into the poster boy for What's Wrong with Baseball when he's a henchman, not a ringleader.

I see two criticisms of Bonds here. first is that he's a cheater and is therefore "raping" the game. this is, quite simply, ridiculous. from my previous example - EVERYBODY knew Sutton and Perry were throwing illegal pitches. they confessed it openly. and yet they're both in the Hall of Fame. people have been cheating in baseball since it was invented. does that make it right? no, obviously not. but it's tremendously shortsighted to think that cheating is some dramatic new development that changes the way the game is played.

maybe you think steroid use is a more serious infraction than doctoring a ball. in terms of impact on gameplay, that's a very debatable assertion. steroids make you stronger. they don't give you hand-eye coordination. they don't give you a good swing. I'm not going to pretend that they have no effect, because they obviously do. but I could take steroids like an East German bodybuilder and I'd never be able to hit like Bonds.

the second criticism is that he broke the law, and then that's how he's raping the game. the most obvious problem with that may be a technicality, but it's no less significant - he hasn't been convicted of anything, and I think it's pretty unlikely that he ever will be. he's as "guilty" of steroid use as Mark McGwire is. there are a lot of basketball players not named Bonds that actually have been convicted of crimes, so I find it difficult to see him as the downfall of baseball civilization when ballplayers have been breaking laws long before him and will continue to do so long after him. (I'm not even going to acknowledge comparing steroid use to murder. let's call that the Bonds Corollary to Godwin's Law.)

I'm not saying Bonds is a good guy or that I would cheer for him. he's a jerk, and he's a cheater. unfortunately, that doesn't differentiate him from dozens or even hundreds of other baseball players in the last 150 years (and in the next 150 years). dislike him, boo him, criticize him, but don't pretend that he is the be all and end all of everything wrong with the game.

ae, i respect your opinions on the subject, but i would like to offer a some contrasting opinions and rebuttal to some things specifically.

one, you imply that all forms are cheating are equal (spitballs, steroids, etc.) but i think that is like saying all crimes are equal, when it is obvious that is not true. also, you mention things that steroids cannot help (hand-eye, swing) but in the same sentence admit that they do help. you can't have it both ways. fact is, it does help professional ballplayers hit more homeruns.

the biggest issue you bring up though is that his cheating doesn't differentiate himself from hundreds of other ballplayers. and you are absolutely right. it is not the cheating alone that differentiates him, it is the effect his cheating in particular has had on baseball. others have taken steroids, but few have taken steroids and increased their performance to the point of breaking cherished records. combine that with involvement in a steroid distribution ring and dishonest testimony to a federal grand jury among other issues, and he has differentiated himself.

you are right, bonds is not the be all and end of what is wrong with baseball, but at this point time he embodies what is most wrong with baseball, like it or not.

one thing i am absolutely certain of, this a terrible time for baseball, but a great time for people who like to argue about baseball! enjoy.

It's not a terrible time for baseball. Is Barry Bonds the single-season homerun king? Not in my mind. Am I concerned about what the record book says? No. He's not legit. But it can't be undone. After the season he'll be retired. Goodbye. And the game will go on.

For the time being, I have an idea on how baseball can punish Barry Bonds: underneath his name on the back of his uniform, there should be a giant asterisk instead of a 25. Because that's what all his numbers will mean to baseball fans. Hope he's happy. (He's not, though, is he.)

I like your take RSB, I think very few people will think "Bonds single-season HR record holder" in the same way as they thought about Ruth or Maris. Unfortunately, this takes away from our enjoyment of the records as well.

So much of appreciating baseball is based on naivete (such as forgetting that legends like Ruth and Gehrig played in a segregated league or that Mantle popped greenies)...the real tragedy is that Bonds's trangressions are so blantant that we can't play dumb anymore.

The MVP of the my favorite team of all-time most likely juiced but it was ignored (or, more often, joked about). I think there is this idea that if we punish Bonds enough we can return to some sort of innocence, but this is an innocence that was only possible in the first place through an incredible amount of dillusion on the part of the fans (helped by Hollywood and novelists). I think the most genuine response to Bonds and the steroid era is simply sadness.

I don't want to really jump into this fight, but my personal stance is this: I don't want Bonds to break the record. Breaking the record should be something great, something to celebrate, something that enhances baseball. Ruth hitting all those homeruns had a massively positive effect on baseball, helped make baseball into the great game it is today, totally revolutionized. Hank Aaron broke the record honorably, playing day in day out, being a great competitor, etc.

When (and if) Bonds breaks these records, every record he breaks does nothing to enhance baseball. In fact, it does the exact opposite: it tarnishes it, and ruins the significance of not just the number, but what those numbers mean.

Bonds isn't like your ordinary cheater because he didn't cheat because of pressure to make the major league team, or to heal injury, or even to make money. He did it to break records and get attention paid to him. (although even bigger oodles of money came along with that). That's what makes it different from everyone else for me.

When you're discussing a Ryan Franklin, though, I'm a lot more lenient, and a lot more understanding, and I can understand the comparisons to other cheaters throughout history.

At the same time that I guess it's possible to just vanish it from your mind, the fact is, it's going to be in the record books, it's going to be an uncomfortable issue for awhile, and even if you can forget about it that's not how it works for everyone.

To get back at issues at hand:

Lieberthal is on the 15 day DL for a knee contusion after getting hit by the pitch yesterday, and the Phillies promoted Ruiz. Hopefully, he'll continue hitting and catching well, and when Lieberthal returns Fasano will be the one getting the boot.

Also, nice win for the Phillies. I wasn't around to see it, but nice to see that Floyd survived and that Utley and Howard are on fire.

Adam, in response to what you wrote about being more lenient with a guy like Ryan Franklin, that just seems unfair. That means you're punishing Bonds for being ultra talented in the 1st place. I don't respect Bonds for using steroids and i do think any record he breaks/has broken should have a fat asterik next to it, but the guy was and is a great baseball player before the steroid business.
The reason, i think, that it's good that Bonds is going after these records is because it does bring all the cheating issues to light, the steroids and the uppers and everything. And this will help return baseball to a more level playing field that everyone should be able to enjoy more, as fans.

I missed the game, too. I see that Floyd gave up nine hits and walked three in six innings. That's two baserunners an inning. Was he as lucky as it seems?

Now we get to see what Ruiz can do. If he has a strong showing, I defy the Phils to send him back down in two weeks' time and keep starting Captain Caveman twice a week. I wasn't happy to see Lieberthal get hurt, but it does provide an opportnity to improve the team in the long run if Ruiz can prove himself worthy of the majors.

Adam, I don't get the idea that it is better if borderline players cheat (or that, somehow, cheating for money is better than for glory). Elite athletes are some of the most competitive people in the world and are always searching for an extra edge. If "Game of Shadows" can be believed, Bonds started because Sosa and McGwire were doing it and just as many elite player cheated as finge guys (actually , probably more, since the minor league testing was so much more strict).

Ruth and (to a MUCH greater degree) Aaron are inspirational figures, but how about the all-time hits record? Cobb...then Rose. The fact that a true gentleman like Aaron holds the HR record is just a nice coincidence. I don't want Bonds to break the record either, but it won't be the first time a major record is held by someone was less than impeccable credentials.

Adam, I don't get the idea that it is better if borderline players cheat (or that, somehow, cheating for money is better than for glory). Elite athletes are some of the most competitive people in the world and are always searching for an extra edge. If "Game of Shadows" can be believed, Bonds started because Sosa and McGwire were doing it and just as many elite player cheated as finge guys (actually , probably more, since the minor league testing was so much more strict).

Ruth and (to a MUCH greater degree) Aaron are inspirational figures, but how about the all-time hits record? Cobb...then Rose. The fact that a true gentleman like Aaron holds the HR record is just a nice coincidence. I don't want Bonds to break the record either, but it won't be the first time a major record is held by someone was less than impeccable credentials.

I'm not punishing Bonds for his talent. I was referring to fact that he cheated when he was already a HoF caliber player, just in order to pull more attention towards himself, and specifically with the intention of breaking records and opening eyes.

I'm not saying a person like Franklin is okay for using steroids. It's just that I definitely empathize with them more. They love baseball, they want to be able to play it profesionally and make a living at it, or they're desperate to perform up to expectations, and so cheating is the easiest way to do it. Not that it should be honored, but I don't think they deserve the scorn that is piled on top of their suspensions, necessarily.

Bonds was already made for life, as was a player like Giambi. Those are the players who I dislike the most. They already have what they sought--great stats, big paydays, etc. but that's not enough for them.

in re:

>Bobby Bonds must be rolling over in his grave.

nope, he was a jackass too.

now, i didn't like bonds in the 80s as a pirate, but that's far from the distaste i feel for him now. he's now been elevated far beyond jerkhood - how dare we think he used steroids! believe you me he thinks as little of any of us as we would a *proven* steroid cheater. by which i mean one who has been caught.

oh, and by all means ban franklin too.

I don't think you can claim to know the motivation for Bonds using steriods. I disagree with why you think he used them. I believe he loves playing baseball and is extremely competative and had a desire to be the best player ever. There is nothin wrong with that.
And what if Bonds, the Hall of Famer pre-steriods, goes up to the plate and gets struck out by mediocore (sp? sorry) Ryan Franklin who Bonds has heard through the grapevine is juicing. This would deffinately irk someone who is looking to be the best, and make them want to do what they have to do to beat that person. I mean. I'm not justifying it, but I don't think one should assume that Bonds used steriods for a more evil reason than someone else, and therefore should be hated more.
I enjoy arguing, sorry.

I'm so excited to go to the game tonight, and it has nothing to do with Bonds. I'm hoping Ruiz makes his MLB debut and plays well! He has no hype, besides this blog, but we all know that he needs to perform, so "Captain Caveman" is the one returning to Scranton in 2 weeks. By the way, I'm not sure who came up wiht the Captain Caveman nickname, but it's awesome! I saw it in RSB's post and just started laughing.

Let's hope Burrell isn't hurt though!

not to be overlooked in game last night was my favorite moment, a 3-5-4 double play. very rare accomplishment by the phils, howard to bell to utley.

Not trying to ruffle feathers here, but I was wondering what happened to Ricardo Rodriguez following the release. Well, he's started 4 games for the Richmond Braves and has and ERA of 1.21...let's hope this deal doesn't come back to haunt the Phillies more than it already has.

I'm basing what I said off of what I read about Game of Shadows, where it says he started using steroids because he was jealous of the attention McGwire and Sosa were getting.

There's a difference between Bonds juicing because he loved the game, and, say, Matt Lawton. Lawton did it because he was injured, he didn't want to be cut, he wanted to keep playing. Bonds did it when he was all ready a superstar going to be perhaps a top-tier HoF. That's the difference I see.

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