Monday, May 15, 2006

Beth on Bonds

Wow, two days of rainouts have left me desperate for some baseball. I even found myself watching the Braves - although I turned it off before Francoeur's walk-off grand slam.

I have to comment on Barry Bonds and his pursuit of the all-time home run record. He's one short of Babe Ruth's record of 714 - and controversy has swirled around him. Major League Baseball has said it won't celebrate him when he passes Ruth - that they'll celebrate when he passes Hank Aaron. Fans on the road have been brutal to him - he's had a fake syringe thrown at him, had people jeering and catcalling him, and holding up cruel signs (some of which are pretty clever, actually!). The only people who seem to like him and want to celebrate with him are the hometown San Francisco fans. They missed their chance to celebrate #714 this week - Bonds went through the recent homestand without a homer, his last homer coming in a game at Philadelphia over a week ago.

Why is there such ambivalence? Some have claimed it's racism - that people don't want to see a black baseball player pass arguably the greatest white player ever. Hello - is not the all-time leader also an African American?? No, I think the problem is much more fundamental - people don't like Barry Bonds, not because of his color or his talent - but because he is not a nice man. Selfish, self-centered. The whole world revolves around him. One needn't look further than his tv series "Bonds on Bond," during which the cameras follow him and allow him to pontificate to the camera. When he was going through the whole BALCO mess last spring, he totally alienated me - and I consider myself to be a fairly typical, forgiving fan.

But my feelings were cemented this weekend when I read a column by Tim Dahlberg in the Fresno Bee, called "Giants get win, absent Bonds loses." Dahlberg details the Friday night game in SF, when the Giants rallied for four runs in the 9th to win. But instead of celebrating on the field with his teammates -
While music blared in the Giants' clubhouse and players chatted excitedly among themselves a few minutes after a big win against the hated Dodgers, the surly slugger was heading home.
Dahlberg who, one assumes, spends a bit of time in the clubhouse, writes:
Bonds plays when he wants, associates with teammates only when he wants and takes himself out of the game when he wants...But Bonds is Bonds, a player so egocentric that you wonder sometimes if he knows he has teammates.
That's the basic problem I have with Bonds. The incredible ego, the incredible selfishness. He clearly has used "the juice" at some point. I'm not sure if his records should be asterixed, but I do question whether we should be celebrating him. In the same way I question whether Jason Giambi should be taking curtain calls at the Stadt and being voted Comeback Player of the Year. Give him a bloodtest for HGH instead!

I don't think every player in baseball needs to be cute and friendly and nice, but I don't think they need to go out of their way to be unlikable and disagreable. To display the kind of disregard for teammates and fans that Bonds has is setting up the wrong kind of role model for young fans. Bud Selig needs to call Mr. Bonds in for a little chat - look at the good it did David Wells on several occasions!

In the meantime the Giants have hit the road again - and my fondest wish is that one of the opposing pitchers will toss him a meatball, Bonds will hit it out of the park -- and we can move on with our lives.


Post a Comment

<< Home