I’ve followed the career of David Eckstein for a number of years now. One reason is my son is about the same stature, in every sense of the word. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity to play sports because of his size, and as a parent it was painful to watch. He is now a triathlete. I pointed out Eckstein to him as a role model, something fathers usually don’t do to their adult sons. That speaks volumes for Eckstein, as does the fact he has had to scrap for everything he has achieved.
It’s not the size of the dog in the scrap that matters, it is size of the scrap in the dog. That scrappiness undid the Tigers, as his MVP trophy attests. Notice it wasn’t some beefed up basher who won the MVP; instead it was the little man who came up big. Maybe this is a fitting end to the steroid era. Maybe the contracts will start going to baseball players, not circus freaks. It was interesting to note that Eckstein, who is probably vastly underpaid, admitted he has never bought a new car.
He’s now driving the Corvette. Good for him. Good to see.
I’ve seen a lot of this the last couple of days:
Besides, even if he was cheating — and skeptics can say that he merely moved the substance elsewhere, like the bill of his cap — this is baseball, not golf. The culture of baseball is different than perhaps any other sport in that it tolerates — if not embraces — getting any kind of edge that you can. The runner on second is always going to try to steal a sign from the catcher, and the third-base coach’s signs are fair game for those who can decipher them. The burden is on the umpires and the opposing team to catch the offender; in golf, the onus is on the individual to abide by the honor system. I’m not saying that cheating on your taxes or on your SATs or in anything else that happens in everyday life is right. I’m just saying that’s the way it is in baseball from time immemorial — you cheat until you get caught. And if you don’t get caught, then you get a congratulations for getting away with it. I don’t see the Giants offering to give back the Dodgers the 1951 pennant anytime soon, do you?
Or Bonds giving back #2 to Ruth. Can you cheat at some things, but not others? Can you cheat just a little? What kind, and how much cheating is acceptable? What are the rules regarding cheating? Can you cheat at those rules?
The criticism of Bonds is that he is a petulant jerk. I seem to remember Kenny Rogers assaulting a reporter. Could the difference, like the rules, be black and white?
Think I’ll go golfing…
— Michael Norton
A strange thing happened today: the sun came up. A ray of light struck a book on my table, a book by Leigh Montville called The Big Bam. I was surprised.
Barry Bonds hit #715 to pass Babe Ruth on the all time list. Wasn’t the world supposed to end? Or at least that book on Ruth disappear? But wait! The pages are still filled with wonderful stories of the Babe and his exploits!
And my gosh! I look around the baseball world and I see Prince Albert homered again! The Mets won behind El Duque! The fan who snagged #715 was making a beer run! All is right with the world. The sky isn’t falling. The Cubs and Royals even lost, again. What’s changed?
Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today!
We are born again, there is new grass on the field.
Rounding third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel.
— John Fogerty, Centerfield
Congratulations to Barry Bonds for his accomplishment, and to Curt Schilling for 200 wins.
By the way, John Fogerty’s reference to a brown-eyed handsome man rounding third and headed home is a tribute to Chuck Berry. You’ll find other interesting musical tidbits on Moondog’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival.
Congrats again to Jeter! If nothing else, I think this steroid era has flogged the Homerun horse race to a pulp. We would do well to direct our attention to the other aspects of the game as well (such as Jeter’s hits). — cmn
Matt over at DiamondHacks has consistently posted insightful comments on the PED issue, but I found this entry on Rachel’s Redbird Ramblings not only intellectually stimulating, but poignantly honest. There is something about the meandering reasoning that reveals a soul struggling with the issue—and a little soul is precisely what is needed on Bonds. Inside Pitch is even more stringently, devastatingly, analytical. This is the best post I’ve seen anywhere on the issue.
Daddy Raised a Cardinals Fan wrote a thoughtful post on the topic, but more than anything offered the solution in #715: embrace it. Embrace it for the good of baseball, and because you are a baseball fan.
Anyone who has read much history understands that history is fickle. Anyone who thinks they understand the moment at that moment is deluded. Already with 9/11 rallying around the flag has surrendered to conspiracy theories. The interpretations of the event will go through dozens of more convolutions before settling into a myth long after all of us are dead, a myth that will be exposed to be a myth by some historian with an ax to grind. Same with the Iraq War. That’s why I blog about baseball rather than politics.
I’m simply not smart enough to pronounce god-like judgments on Bonds and the steroid era. What I do see, however, gives me hope: baseball fans coming out into the open and confronting the hateful and spiteful baseball “aficianadoes” who have been for too long telling us what we should think and feel. Not to sound like Dr. Phil, but it is OK to enjoy the moment. That’s what baseball is all about. Unlike any other sport, baseball is timeless. — Michael Norton
Congrats to Derek Jeter on 2000 hits!
I’m blogging on Moodog’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival about another passing of one era to another, from the Jazz Age to Rock and Roll. Check it out!
Wouldn’t it be delicious if the Hated Bonds passes the Beloved Babe against the team that lionized the Blubbering **** who started this home run record circus…while on deck is the player who may put them all to shame, Albert Pujols. Of course even Pujols is under the cloud of suspicion, as Cyn over at Red Sox Chick points out. Let me state for the record that I’m a huge Albert Pujols fan—and that was before I saw the Sunday night interview on ESPN and learned he has a rather engaging personality. I didn’t know he was a nice guy. He impressed me as the kind that just took care of business. I noticed he expressed nothing but respect for Bonds, which is more than can be said for many fans. Maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t.
I mean, besides how to hit a baseball a country mile. I’m willing to stipulate he’s clean, at least until there is some scintilla of evidence, like a precursor to steroids found in his locker. But that leads us to a conundrum: Pujols is proving it is possible to do the kinds of things Bonds has been doing naturally. So how much do steroids and other PEDs aid in the production of home runs? If Bonds hits a thousand, like his agent suggests, will he eclipse Ruth? — Michael Norton
I recently read the following regarding Barry Bonds’ 714th:
The ball was caught on the fly by 19-year-old Tyler Snyder of nearby Pleasanton, who was cheered by fans around him and quickly left the Coliseum with his souvenir. When Bonds was told Snyder is an A’s fan, he quipped: "I, um, forgive you. If he doesn’t like me, give me the ball."
Hey Barry, we don’t have to like you to appreciate your accomplishment. I personally liked Barry Bonds better when he was “just” an OUTSTANDING player for the Pirates…long before the home-run debacle took effect. In any case, the game has changed and it’s a different venue now. Congrats to Barry on his recent accomplishment and good luck on his next career moves (I suspect a World Series ring and Hank Aaron’s record are high on his to-do list.) — cmn