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08 March 2006

Overshadowed

The saddest thing about today's revelations about Barry Bonds is that a day that was supposed to be meant in remembrance of the late Kirby Puckett has been completely sidetracked by more steroid news. A few years back I was in San Francisco on a day off from work. I happened to be walking through Union Square when I saw a ceremony was being held in the little stage area. The event was for the Glaucoma Research Foundation, for whom Puckett had been a spokesperson. He was there, speaking and accepting a check on behalf of the foundation. Puckett was embarking on a new life as a public person living with glaucoma, as well as being the public face of glaucoma research. Until details emerged about his sordid divorce and other legal troubles, it was assumed that his transition to retirement was a smooth one. Sadly, Puckett's demise came all too soon as he apparently spent that last couple of years in seclusion, irreparably ruined both mentally and emotionally.

One can only guess how Barry Bonds' retirement will look. It's hard to imagine the man getting even more crusty than he's been in the past, but if he isn't voted into the Hall of Fame, it stands to reason that he'll only get more and more bitter as time passes. I'm in no place to judge Bonds - I was there for home runs 498 and 499 and several more. I sat and stood in numerous places in Pac Bell just to find the optimal place to watch a Bonds homer. I fell in love with the Field Level seats down the RF line, near the visiting bullpen. The ball came off his bat like fireworks - I half expected each ball to explode in mid-air. I'm an A's fan, but I appreciated the magnificence of Bonds' feats. I feel somewhat complicit, but I don't feel guilty. I understood what was probably happening. I wondered when looking at Bonds' transformation just as I did when I looked at Mark McGwire's neck or Jason Giambi's arms. In the end I voted with my wallet. I may not actually be complicit, but as a fan I at least tacitly approved of it. It was the nature of the game. I won't be a hypocrite about the issue. I'm not asking Bonds to retire and renounce his records just as I'm not asking the A's to forfeit the 1989 World Series. It's easy to get on a high horse. I won't do that.

The new, heavily detailed descriptions of the Bonds routine have already stirred up the media, which was supposed to be focused on Puckett's legacy and the World Baseball Classic. From here on out, it should be interesting to see if the drug testing program is once again reopened. Bud Selig thought he put the whole drug issue to bed. Now there's another cloud over the sport. Selig has said he won't erase or asterisk the records broken and made during the recent "juiced" era. Will he now revisit that stance?

16 comments:

Jeff said...

Great post. You have summed up my feelings on the matter more succinctly than I ever could have. I am reaching the point that I no longer wish to hear about the steroids issue. It seems to be turning into a jihad with the usual profiteering by the arms merchants (journalists). The timing for the release of the book is impeccable. Wasn't Pete Rose recently taken to task for poor taste in timing with regards to his book? For the record, I enjoyed the Sosa/Mcgwire home run chase. I am going to go on remembering it fondly. As for Bonds, perhaps he is surly for a reason....but his accomplishments still stand. In response to the book, I am not only not going to buy it, I am going to ATT park to see him play at least once before he retires. Enough.

Kevin said...

May 19, 2006. The start of a three game series between the Giants and the A's. The Giants would have played 42 games, and no doubt by then Bonds would have added at least a few more HRs to his total.

I plan on attending the game on the 20th. It is quite possible that he may at that point be either tied or one short of Ruth's total of 714. To tell you the truth, I don't know how I'd feel should he hit one out that day. One part of me would realize that I was watching the greatest hitter I've ever seen add another to his total. But another part of me would get into all the steroid questions. How will the other fans react? Will they cheer or boo, or both. If they boo, how will that be viewed by other fans around the country? Will it reflect poorly on Oakland? In the end though, I think most in attendance (including myself) will show their appreciation for what he has accomplished. But it will be wierd.

tony d. said...

I'm not here to defend Bonds, but I've often wondered what impact steroids has on HAND/EYE COORDINATION and BAT SPEED...which has more to do with hitting home runs than sheer muscle/power. There have been some pretty big boys in the majors who haven't done what Bonds has to date (one of them is now a member of our A's). RIP Kirby.

Georob said...

It's going to take someone dropping dead on the field from abuse of performance enhancers to change minds on this issue. Short of that, people have pretty much accepted it, and as Rhamesis put it so eloquently: "voted with their wallets."

The Giants made their "deal with the devil"(Bonds)to get their ballpark built and partially paid for with sellout crowds. However, it's unlikely they'll get to reap the benefits of BB chasing Aaron's record.

I can easily see Bonds going on the DL sometime early in the season and then quietly retiring, sparing himself and the team the attention and requisite embarassment that would go with a home run record chase.

Kevin said...

You're Peter McGowan. Bonds finishes the season with 735 HRs, surpassing Ruth, but 20 HR shy of Aaron. Do you spend another $20 million and sign him for another year, assuming he wants to continue? Huge attraction at the plate, but a defensive liability in the field. No guarantees he'll hit 21 more the next year. Or do you allow him to sign on with another team and perhaps break the record with that team. Imagine the fan backlash should that happen.

Tough call

Jeff said...

I think the event Rob envisions has already come to pass. Didn't a pitcher from the Orioles die on the field a couple of years ago? His death was attributed to ephedra if I recall correctly, and while not a steroid I believe it does qualify as a "performance enhancer".

As far as Bonds goes, as long as he keeps his stroke he will continue to play out of pure spite. I believe he will try to achieve the 800 homer mark to put his personal stamp on the record book and to spit in the eye of his critics. His ego knows no limits.

Anonymous said...

and this has what to do with the a's quest for a new ballpark?

anyone have any idea on the latest regarding wolffie's april deadline of a new ballpark plan or else?

Georob said...

What does this have to do with the A's quest for a ballpark?

Barry Bonds is probably the single biggest reason for the Giants' recent success(with the ballpark a close second). Attendance is already dropping, and will likely go down appreciably once Bonds is gone for good.

Throw in the possibility that Bonds may exit the scene without the hoopla and attention from either chasing Aaron's record and/or a "farewell tour", and Peter McGowan's revenue stream takes a massive hit.

All of which will make it much more difficult to negoiate a deal over rights to San Jose.

tony d. said...

So San Jose will forever remain hostage to the Giants T Rights because of no Bonds, falling attendance, and falling revenue? Such an insane/unfair world we live in...GO FREMONT!

tony d. said...

Way off the Bonds, steroids subject...Todays Merc Business states that the Fisher Family is worth a combined $3.9 BILLION, With A's owner John Fisher clocked in at $1.3 BILLION...just some food for thought.

Marine Layer said...

The deadline isn't "April or else". Wolff has already broken the pact on the original timeframe by having fairly advanced talks with Fremont. So it could be said that the April deadline no longer applies. It's possible that a Fremont plan could be unveiled by Opening Day, though I wouldn't wager on it. It is likely that Wolff will make some kind of announcement, but don't expect it to be earth-shattering. He'll probably formalize the search outside of Oakland.

Jeff said...

ML,

Perhaps Wolfe has broken the "pact" by talking to Fremont because he recognizes that the Oakland option has died on the vine? Wouldn't an announcement at this time be redundant and perhaps counterproductive?

Anything new on the Fremont front? I for one sincerly hope for some indication of finality by opening day. At least let us know that the Oakland option is truly dead and that the organization will now entertain other offers.

Marine Layer said...

The Fremont land deal is bound to be more complex than how it's currently being portrayed. I wouldn't assume that it's a slam dunk since there are political forces that have to make it happen.

I don't think Oakland has died on the vine. There are still options there, limited as they may be. Political will is a big factor there as well.

Jeff said...

I assumed that Wolfe talking to Fremont all but sounded the death knell for Oakland's chances of keeping the team. There is still a curious silence that emanates from the political sector in Oakland concerning the A's. Do you think Wolfe will give serious consideration any of those "limited options" in Oakland? Each of those sites would appear to fall seriously short of Wolfe's stated vision for retail/commercial development in conjuction with the ballpark.

Everything I have ever seen posted here and on other sites would seem to point to Fremont as being the most viable of sites. I wonder if Wolfe will indeed hold to his opening day deadline?

Georob said...

Well, let's break this down:

1) San Jose has territorial rights issues that if negotiable, are going to come at a very high pricetag.

2) Fremont has two sites that are either too far from BART, or won't see BART for about ten years. And they are a city that has NEVER tackled a project of this magnitude before.

3) If we are to read Rhamesis' data correctly, Portland and Las Vegas don't have the income to support a MLB team, and Vegas has the gambling questions to boot.

4) Contraction is likely a hollow threat that if ever carried out might cause baseball to lose its anti-trust exemption.

5) There's been talk of the A's leaving Oakland practically as long as they've been there. It's never happened.

6) The only major team that ever DID leave Oakland came back.

7) The Oakland Coliseum remains the only available location next to both BART and the freeway best suited for a baseball stadium.

This is why Oakland has no sense of urgency, folks. As weak as they appear to be, they still hold a lot of cards in this poker game.

Lew Wolff knows this. So do the other cities, too.

Anonymous said...

Interesting assessment, in the interest of playing devils advocate, I'll play the other side of the coin.

1.) TR's aside, the city affected by them (SJ) is activley pursing a team. This includes community group efforts as well as the political establishment. It's an open secret they are actively courting the A's. It remains to be seen if they will flex their legal arm.

2.) Fremont has never taken on a project of this magnitude, but that's true of every municipality until the first time they do. Fremont enjoys a close physical proximity to the behemoth that is SJ. They may be able to forge a relationship with SJ akin to the one the NY Giants share with New Jersey. There are plans for BART to be expanded to SJ. The current infastructure bond plan in Sacramento may speed up the arrival of BART. Even if it's 10 years away, a stadium will likely take four to construct. A six year gap may prove to be insignificant.

3.) Contraction is not likley, and if it were, the Marlins and Twins would probably lead the short list of candidates.

4.) The lack of urgency on Oaklands part may be their undoing. Talks of leaving in the past have always been just that....talk. New owners with a set agenda should serve notice that there is no bluff this time around. MLB franchises have shown that they are determined to have modern facilities. In the last dozen years or so almost 2/3's of the teams have new parks. The Commish himself has stated that the A's are not viable without a new park.

Whether Oakland thinks their position is stronger than it really is, I have no clue. But it is clear that the A's will play in a new park sometime soon....whether that park is in Oakland or not.

By the way Rob, the weather is just ridiculous today isn't it? Snow in Hanford in March. Who woulda thought it?