Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Ever-Expandng Bonds

Sports Illustrated has an interesting pictorial of Barry Bonds' changing physique over the years, and I got to say, having already seen so many photos of Bonds expanding like baked bread over the years, I was more moved by seeing him in those old Pirates uniforms. Damn, what happened to the Pirates...I mean, other than baseball's ridiculous financial system obliterating the fairness of the game? What a shame. The Pirates were awesome back then and Doug Drabek pulled off the mustache/mullet look with ease. Who's doing that these days? Nobody - that's who.

Meanwhile, Willie McCovey says that racism is playing a role in the scrutiny Bonds faces as he chases the home run record, apparently overlooking the fact that Hank Aaron is black.

Hmmm. I don't know about this.

While I don't want to dismiss the notion that there are some dumb people out there, people who judge others for stupid reasons such as race, I'm fairly certain that most people who dislike Bonds - which pretty much covers most people who aren't Giants fans - do so because, well, because Bonds has long proven himself to be an arrogant prick who deserves little sympathy.

Back when I wrote for a sports section, I didn't hang aroung long enough to move up to covering Major League Baseball, but I definitely overheard the opinions and stories of Bonds by reporters who did. And to put it mildly, Bonds was an asshole who, essentially, treated people like crap. Apparently, dealing with Bonds was like dealing with a petulant, spoiled baby. It was an unpleasant chore merely to be in his presence. To him, others were merely dirt or gum or dog shit to be removed from his shoe.

And yeah, these are the same reporters who now write pieces on Bonds that may be skeptical at best, scathing at worst.

What goes around comes around. If people don't want Bonds to surpass Aaron and hold one of the most hallowed records in sports, it's likely because Aaron was a class act who never flinched under the real racism and hardships he faced, while Bonds was born into baseball royalty and a life of ease mentored by the likes of his father and Willie Mays yet acts like the world has done him wrong.

The rest of us should be so lucky.

It's odd that Bonds' latest troubles have occurred in the same week that Kirby Puckett passed. It's painted a poignant picture, one detailing the differences between the loved and the scorned. We've all heard the stories of Puckett's less than classy ways away from the field, particulalry with regards to women. Yet people are willing to overlook that, at leat somewhat. They're willing to process the ugly rumors but then put them all in the back of their minds and focus solely on all the good memories Puckett provided, and he provided many. The smile. The heart. The undying love of his teammates and fans.

I'm not saying that such selective memory is right or wrong. It is what it is.

Say what you will about Puckett's reputation in retirement, but he built up a lot of love in his life, and it has all come back in return this week. Today thousands will gather in Minneapolis to say their last goodbyes to the man.

Who will ever gather for Bonds? Not many, I guess. Bonds has earned no such luxury and that's his own damn fault. He hasn't offered enough to love to convince many people to overlook the cheating, the scowl, and the nasty attitude.

Karma. It's a bitch.


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