Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Barry and Buster


Barry Bonds is NOT Jason Giambi. After yesterday's news conference, I want to pose a question to you all. Whether you believe or not that both Giambi and Bonds knowingly took steroids in an attempt to enhance their performance:

Which news conference would you rather listen to?

For my money (or, for my time), it's Bonds. Oh, I'll freely admit I'd be frowning and shaking my head in dismay a lot more during a Bonds news conference, but one thing I won't worry about is Barry not saying what's on his mind. And isn't that what the thing was for? To let Barry get some stuff off his chest? Giambi sorried his way through his press conference, then signed autographs like a good little Yankee. Maybe Mr. Steinbrenner gave him a pat on the head and some table scraps, too. But Barry? Heh, he's the pit bull you always keep one eye on, because you treated him roughly as a puppy -- now fully grown, you don't know what'll happen when you put your hand out. You might not get that hand back.

Many would say the purpose of the news conference was so that the media could ask Barry some questions of their choosing, most of which obviously would center around a certain substance. However, this is where things start to go horribly wrong.

Press conferences are not for the media. They are for the people speaking, the people getting asked the questions. Isn't that who the rest of us are listening to? In this sense, the media is just as arrogant as Bonds has ever been, believing themselves to be delivering the Bonds we love/hate. The media is fully confident of their role in society, and this leads them to believe that they deserve answers when they ask questions. And that is another problem with many in the media. They believe they personally deserve answers. Not for us, the audience without which the media wouldn't exist, but for themselves. Arrogance yet again.

Jason Stark of ESPN quickly put up some reactions to the newconference which echoes some of what I'm saying. Here's an excerpt:

"Nobody wants to hate this guy. Not the fans. Not the people asking those questions Tuesday. Not the men he plays against. Not even Jose Canseco.

"Barry Bonds is the greatest player most of us have ever seen. It's human nature to want to love and admire people like that."

Hey, Jason! You ever heard of jealousy? Talk about being naive. I like Stark a lot, but those statements make me wonder where he's been the last dozen years. Nobody wants to hate this guy? No, Jason, most people hated this guy back when they heard Barry was a jerk, but didn't yet know for themselves. Preconceived notions have never run thicker in professional sports than around Bonds. And heck, for the record, I myself think Bonds is a jerk, but I still cannot help but believe the media (in general) intentionally pushes his well-known buttons, just so they can act indignant and outraged when he lashes out. This other excerpt from Stark's article really drives it home:

"We thought he couldn't get any stranger. We thought he couldn't get any more arrogant. We thought he couldn't possibly get any tougher to love, or even like."

What is the name of Lallapalooza were you expecting, Stark? Put on some gloves and get a grip on reality, would ya?

Enough about that. Now, let me call someone else an idiot.

Buster Olney! Idiot!

Okay, maybe that's going a bit far, but in checking out Olney's preseason rankings, a few glaring errors jump out -- I'll elaborate on one of them.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are ranked 16th behind the Cleveland Indians, the Texas Rangers, the New York Mets, and the Seattle Mariners.

Now, normally this would be guffaw-guffaw time, especially if the Giants were ranked 15th or above (los Gigantes are ranked 9th by Olney). However, this time, it's just stupid.

The Dodgers have added pitching (though they paid too much for it), and replaced the offense they lost (Adrian Beltre for J.D. Drew, and Shawn Green for Jeff Kent). They won the NL West last season. And now, that team is being ranked behind: 1) an up and coming team, the Indians, but they really didn't get any better over the offseason, and haven't proven a thing, 2) the always-a-bride's-maid-but-never-a-bride team, the Rangers, who, like the Indians, didn't get significantly better during the offseason, and added no pitching, 3) the hope-for-a-wildcard team, the Mets, who just in no way are going to beat out the Atlanta Braves, the Florida Marlins, AND the Philidelphia Phillies for a division title, and frankly, should be happy to finish above any of those three after adding only Pedro to a pitching staff that needed more, and failing to add Carlos Delgado to an offense that needed him, and 4) the Seattle Mariners, whose hopes ride on the shoulders of Mr. Injured, Richie Sexson (who isn't exactly Jim Thome when healthy anyway), and Adrian Beltre, who had a wonderful year last year after he'd stunk up the joint for two years previous.

Out of those fours teams, only the Rangers were a good team and well above .500, the rest were anywhere from a touch below (the Indians at 80-82), to well below (the Mets at 71-91), to just plain low (the Mariners at 63-99). While I realize the Mets, Indians, and Mariners all should improve, will they be 90+ win teams, like the Dodgers were last year? Sure, it could happen, but is it likely to happen?


So hats off to Buster Olney, who figured out a cockamamie scheme to make me defend my most hated sports franchise, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Good job.

Stupid, freaking Dodgers.

1 comment:

Playwrighter said...

I will give you this much. Barry Bonds is the greatest player of baseball's Steroid Era. Having said that, let me say this:

Sometime soon, next year, or the year after, Henry Aaron’s career home run record is gonna be broken. Barry Bonds has 703 home runs. Hammering Hank’s record stands at 755. Do the math. It’s gonna happen, sure as the acne on Jason Giambi’s back.

Hank Aaron, in his prime, stood exactly six feet tall, weighed one hundred eighty pounds. If you saw him up close on the street, you’d say he looked like a very fit average size human being, not like one of your basic modern ballplayers with a butt out to here and a chip on his shoulder the size of a cow turd and forearms that make him look like a circus geek.

Hank Aaron’s swing matched his attitude. Crisp. Elegant. Dignified. When he smashed a home run, which was often, he did not stand at the plate, like Barry Bonds does, and admire the ball in its trajectory. Hank ran the bases like the rule book said. Hank was into the integrity of the game. The one thing he wasn’t into was himself. Some people think baseball needs more Hank Aarons and fewer Barry Bonds.

I disagree. Baseball does not need Hank Aaaron's dignity. Nor does it need his integrity. Baseball's been getting along fine without either. If you wanna know the truth, nobody connected with baseball cares about dignity or integrity anymore.

Time was, though, when almost everyone cared. A popular film underscored how much people cared. "Field of Dreams" was the name of the film and it was released in 1989, one year prior to what I like to call baseball’s Steroid Era. In the movie, James Earl Jones delivers an impassioned speech in which he says, regardless of the times, you could always count on baseball to be a standard for decency, dignity, excellence and doing the right thing. It was a powerful moment.

But that's all over. In the 90’s, baseball went from whore to pimp to crackhead without batting an eye. Whore, because baseball stood there and winked knowingly while the owners and players conspired to sex up the game. Pimp, because basball stood there and winked knowingly while the owners and players screwed the fans out of a World Series in 1994. Crackhead, because baseball stood there and winked knowingly while the clubhouses morphed into drug dens.

Barry Bonds is gonna to break Mister Aaron’s record. But lemme tell you this. It won't mean a thing. No one, except the most out of touch fan, will take that man’s numbers seriously. Thanks to steroids, everyone’s gonna put a mental asterisk beside his mark. And it’s too damn bad. But that’s what you get when you’re so into yourself that you’re out of touch with the game and the fans.

And it’s not just Barry Bonds. Take Randy Johnson. Five Cy Young Awards. Just traded to the Yankees. First thing he does in New York? Roughs up a newspaper camera man. You’d think he’d be delighted to have his picture in the paper so fans could delight in the Big Unit’s handsome visage. But no.

You want more out of touch? Two years ago, I was at a Cactus League game in Arizona. Diamondbacks and the Angels. After the game, a hundred or so kids lined up at the fence to get autographs. When who should come walking by but multi-millionaire Curt Schilling? Doesn't even flash the kids a smile. Just walks on by like they don't exist. And I’m thinking, "You sorry sack of shit! You and Barry and Randy and all your fat-ass overpaid overweight circus-geek WWF compadres are exactly why no one cares anymore. You can all go fuck yourselves."

So sometime next year, or the year after, Henry Aaron’s career home run record is gonna be broken. Barry Bonds has 703 home runs. Hammering Hank’s record stands at 755. Just do the math.

Then ask me if I care.

Dale Andersen