Tuesday, April 18, 2006

SportsNight (at your own risk of whatthehell)

So, let's move on to something that I rarely comment on here, but dearly love: sports. I admit here and now that I am a sports junkie. PGA, LPGA, baseball, NCAA basketball tournament, NBA playoffs, NHL Stanley Cup, NFL...nah never mind, Soccer (played it for 15 years) any-fucking-thing (World Cup in less than three months and counting), major tennis tournies...I love it. I can watch it, I can listen to it while I'm reading a book or gardening or tanning in the back yard or driving long distance. Love. It. However...and here we come to my sport of passion...

I've been watching the Barry Bonds saga for as long as anyone and I have to admit I'm stumped. He has passed every piss test given him. Every one. Not a drop, dribble, wiggle or waggle has failed the "if it's steroids it turns pink" test. Doesn't mean he hasn't done them. Doesn't mean he wasn't jacked up on them for a while. Lord, we all know Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, Rafael Palmeiro, Brady Anderson and others were drinking the fucking shit by the gallon. One got caught and no one else. So, why the big witch hunt when it comes to Bonds? I won't go the way of the race card. That's cheap and too easy (justifiable or not).
No. I'm going the way of the "you don't represent baseball in its best light" card. Bonds has never had a good relationship with the press. Aloof, sullen, picky, moody, quick to perceive slights, sort of an either/or asshole. Not an easy guy to interview. And when the MLBS needs its superheroes to step up and put their best foot forward in order to distract the media and public from the needle hitting going on, Bonds flipped the no-no finger at all of them. No-no to talks about steroids. No-no to talks about grand jury testimony. No-no to any of it. And baseball can't handle that. He is supposed to be the role model. He is supposed to break hank aaron's homerun record (and, now, they're afraid of that). He is a superstar's superstar. Major leaguers look to him as an untouchable once-in-a-generation player. But he won't play with humility. He won't speak with humility. He won't vaguely speak to past digressions and ask for forgiveness. He has told the world we can fuck off and feel better for it. It's kind of like me and my boss. I want to have a smooth ride out of here? Then shut the fuck and play ball. Or get ready for the Hammer. And Bonds is getting the Hammer. I don't know if he did anything bad. But I do know that we pay these athletes obscene amounts of money for entertainment. And they feel they deserve it based on the even more obscene amounts of money that the owners make (while they claim corporate welfare when looking to build a new stadium on the taxpayer's dime). I think that if the athletes were paid a decent wage for playing a game and the tickets to see them do so were around $5 and the hot dogs cost fucking 50 cents we wouldn't be in this predicament of players feeling the need to do whatever they have to do in order to get even the slightest edge on the competition. What it boils down to for me is the owners and their greed, the investors and their greed, and the so-called fans and OUR greed. We are the ones who force this kind of mental dementia to happen. So long as we will pay whatever it takes to see a game, so long as we pay $10 for a hot dog, so long as we buy the hats and jerseys, so long as we let the teams dictate our cities' identities based on whether they're there or not, so long as we believe that tourist money is the ultimate profit, so long as we buy into the myth that sports IS culture, so long as we buy whatever they ask us to, we are doomed to witnessing pro and college athletes do whatever it takes to get a leg up on the competition. And we will have to accept equal blame for it.
Boo Bonds all we want. Boo all of them. Most players try to make it on natural talent, but they practice omerta when it comes to those who juice it up. So, boo that as well. But remember to boo the owners, investors, sports columnists, politicians who throw that first ball, your neighbor who puts that "raider nation" sticker on his car (actually, throw eggs at that guy), and yourself every time you turn on the tv and watch a sporting event. We buy into it. We enable it. So, if you want to think of yourself as nobler and better, then turn off the fucking television. Because it's all entertainment. It's Seinfeld with extra pratfalls. It's Friends with all the sugary, smarmy, gosh-aren't-they-cute bullshit. It's Desperate housewives without the friggin' wives. And it Jeapordy with every question something we can almost answer.
Stop fucking complaining if you're going to turn on the tv next Saturday to see who's playing. It is okay to decry drug use. It is okay to decry cheating. But it's not okay to subsidize a multi-billion dollar industry and still sit on your highhorse.

I for one don't care. I want to see homeruns. But, then again, I know that steroids don't add that much power. And they don't accelerate hand/eye coordination or the ability to read a pitcher. There's an anecdote about Barry Bonds. A catcher (can't remember who now...not Santiago) was signed to the Giants and went through his physical. When he got to the vision part, the doc had him read off the chart lines on the wall. The catcher got to a point and said "shit, I can't read that. Nobody could read that'. The doc looked at him and said "one guy can'. The catcher asked who and doc replied "Barry Bonds". True story. And that's the main reason Bonds can hit anyone's pitch. Not because of steroids, but because he learned how to read. And react. And, of course, late in his career learn how to hit a lot of homeruns, have an amazing batting average, break all records for walks, have hit:homerun, homerun:at bats, and walk:at bats, rbi ratios that defy physics and almost all break records as well.

By the way, I want to see well turned double plays. I want to see the perfect strike. I want to see the double steal. I want to see the pick off and the balk and ejections. The throw out at home and the barreling in of the runner on the catcher. I want to see the double no hitter, which is anathema to tv sports. I want to see a runner picked off first base, base running blunders, a man completely slip rounding second on a sure triple, a shoestring catch in the outfield, the perfect cutoff and relay to nail the runner at home, a foul ball taken back from the crowd, manufactured runs, relief pitchers trying to staunch the bleeding...

...And now Bonds's body has finally begun to shut down. Why? Because of the use of steroids over the last years? Because whithout it he would have had to retire long before now? Because too many surgeries seem to have an adverse affect on professional athletes? Who knows? But I'll tell you this: without Bonds over the past 5 years, this game would have been barren. Except for novelties, it still is.
However, even after steroids were banned--what two years ago?--a number of payers are still using them.At first, the penalties weren't that harsh. Now, however, the MLBA is beginning to make a point. 100 game suspension for a minor leaguer. Likely, perhaps, we will not see major leaguers suffering this large a penalty. One or two maybe. As a warning. Sort of like the NBA's penalty on Ron Artest for going into the stand and starting a brawl. Not that Ron doesn't need serious social skills/anger management therapy, but the fans don't need to sign out restraining orders so long as they don't plan on throwing something at him.
Shit. Here comes the cat. I gotta go. Either I pet her now or I get no lovin' an hour before my alarm clock goes off. i know the logical answer is ignore her, but it doesn't work. Nothing does. When Her highness asks me to stroke her belly I don't stop to inquire about the Prince.

5 comments:

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Zonthar said...

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M