Friday, May 5

You better not pout, I'm telling you why

Barry Bonds is coming to town, and given our pitching, stadium, and connection to major baseball statistics, it seems almost impossible that he won't surpass Babe Ruth's 714 home runs at some point this weekend. This leaves us with a few questions:

Is this important?
If you care about baseball, definitely. If you care about sports, probably. If you don't care about sports, but you care about cheating, pompous, preternaturally talented people, certainly. If you don't care about sports, pompous assholes, or inflammatory remarks, feel free to skim the next few questions.

Why is this important?
Baseball, more than any other sport, is buttressed by its statistical lore. Most likely the first statisticians were looking for something to do in between spitballs, then noticed that comparing players using objective numbers rather than subjective opinions allowed them to make conclusions rather than fighting civil wars all the time (note: baseball is that old). When Kareem passed whoever used to have the career points total in basketball, no one outside of LA and Boston felt the breeze. When Jerry Rice took over the total touchdowns record, Raider fans (or whatever god-awful team he was on at the time) barely blinked. But because baseball is so slow and hardly ever does someone take a forearm to the groin, people need something to distract themselves. This coupled with the real reasons, which I have no idea about, make baseball statistics relevant, which in turn lend credence to Barry's assault.

Wait a minute, so is he gonna break any records or not?
Interestingly, no. The home run record is held by Hank Aaron, who finished up with 755 Ryan Howards. Barry's still a season away from that total, which means he'll need a couple more trips to the pharmacist to refill his steroid prescription.

So if he's not breaking any records, why is this a big deal?

It's a big deal because he's passing the total of the more famous and more white player. Babe Ruth is substantially more famous than Hank Aaron, and much whiter to boot. This sits really well with most Americans. Also, in an informal phone survey of non-sports fans (2 men, 2 women), 75% of those polled thought that the record was in fact held by "Huh? Hal, I don't know anything about baseball. I don't know. uh? Babe Ruth maybe?" So basically it's a big deal because everyone thinks he's breaking the record, and moreover will be satisfied that the record is broken once he passes him.

What records might Barry actually break this weekend?

Well, he just surpassed the Babe for most career extra base hits, which actually is a record, so it's gonna be a little tough. Scott Rolen's boos record and J.D. Drew's 'most batteries thrown at' record are in serious jeopardy.

If he wasn't a jerk, but still did steroids and broke records, would people still hate him?

Yes, but to a lesser degree. Certainly his being a jerk makes it easier to hate him, but the reality is that baseball has a huge problem and badly needed a scapegoat. Remember, nothing burns like an effigy.

Is it worth $20 to see Barry in person?
Three years ago, I would have said maybe not. But having seen him twice in person since then, I'll now say absolutely. Aside from his sideshow, size 12 7/8 head, there are more than a few compelling arguments for Barry Bonds. Like him or not, he's one of the top ten players of all-time and will be remembered as the greatest hitter, both pure and for power, of his generation. He's in direct competition with Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera for greatest player of the era. My favorite Barry nugget is that he is playing what can be definitively considered the worst left field in the history of organized baseball. When I saw him with my Dad in San Francisco, he played nine innings, didn't take his left hand out of his pocket more than twice, never backed up a single play to the shortstop, walked (not jogged) out a double to center, and was every inning the last player back to the dugout, which is conveniently located on the third base line (traditionally the home dugout is on the first base side). He also totaled one flip of the cap to the Giants fans who cheered his name for two and a half hours. Hall of fame performance all the way.

I hate Barry. What should I do?
Wherever you are, you should alternate boos with heavy laughter. Then you should put an asterisk on your boos.

I play for the Phillies. What should I do?
If you're pitching, and you want to go the traditional route, an intentional walk or a hit-by-pitch is acceptable, followed by upwards of fifteen pickoff attempts, basically to the point where he sits down on first base. If you want to try a more progressive approach, and there's no one on the bases, roll four pitches underhand towards home plate. If you're playing the infield, and there's no one on the bases, I recommend turning a double play anyway. Or sprinting from shortstop with the ball to first, still beating him by three steps.

I have left field tickets for Saturday's game. What should I do?

How about cheering for the Phillies? They've won five straight, and just came off of their first sweep of the Braves since 1634. If you can't find it in your heart to do that, try booing Barry. It's fun and easy. If you've ever seen Ty Detmer play quarterback you should be fairly practiced in it. Now just remove the element of disappointment from your boo, and you'll be set. The basic Barry Bonds boo recipe consists of: 1 part vitriol, 1 part contempt, 2 parts anger, and 1/8 part silent awe. This differs from the traditional Philly boo of 1 part tears, 2 parts disappointment, 1 part "I can't believe I have to wait 7 months for another game," and 18 parts "god damn it Donovan, the dude is five yards away, you need a TOUCH pass. Touch. Pass."

Yeah, I know how to boo. What, specifically, should I do?

Media proponents are gaining steam with their walkout idea (whenever Barry comes up to bat, walk to the nearest concourse and stay there for the duration). This to me seems like it would take too much time and coordination. I recommend the backwards silent treatment, wherein everyone in the stadium stands up and turns their back to the field for the at-bat and remains perfectly silent. Chillingly effective.


x-intern said...

Yes I support those ideas. Everyone in Philly can turn their backs or go get food while Bonds is at bad. Meanwhile I will be all alone in the bleachers waiting for his million-dollar home run to land.


Cameron said...

Stunningly good article.

My personal belief is that the gravitational pull of his massive dome, and not his reduced steroid intake, is what has slowed him down this season.

greene said...

a better solution would be to ignore bonds and just continue marvelling at the absolute bombs jason giambi is hitting into upper decks and dead center fields across the american league.

also, everyone should read game of shadows. if youre like me, it will only enhance what is already a great appreciation for all things barry bonds. im not a fan of numbers or talent. i am a fan of treating everyone around you like complete shit at all times. some of the stories/quotes in that book kept me laughing for days. read it. if only to learn about the time barry signed his first huge deal and his crippled grandmother asked him to buy her a motorized wheelchair. barry's response: "all of a sudden everyone wants something from me, my grandma wants this chair that drives like a bmw, and im just like 'youre gonna die soon anyway, what the fuck do you need that for?'"


Hal said...

disclaimer: the views of josh greene do not represent those held by but are absolutely hilarious anyway.