Last year at this time, the beloved authors here on Some Ballyard were getting skewered for suggesting that there was more to the Bonds story than superficial loathing. I spent the last weekend categorizing posts, and incidentally noticed that the character and tone of Some Ballyard as it exists today was presaged by one post, A Long Out. You’ll notice that is Matt from Diamondhacks first appearance on Some Ballyard, as well as some inanity by The Dearly Departed. I spent the next month fighting off the barbarians, including the infamous ‘Stros Bro (also departed), all favorites of the clowns running MLBlogs. Indeed, the entire month of May was one long brawl, after which I was seriously questioning why I was blogging at all.
All this was for merely suggesting that Bonds was a human being. I wasn’t even going as far as racism. As I stated, I was curious why Bonds engendered such visceral hatred. Yet the racism came out, in a way that stunned me. Not that I wasn’t conscious of the racial component of the saga. I am old enough to remember Hank Aaron breaking the home run record. Nobody was a racist back then, either. But in this day and age I was honestly amazed at the utter denial of even the possibility of a racial aspect. Personally, I considered the whole affair a rare opportunity for all of us, white and black, to examine our attitudes. Apparently I was right on target. Jason Stark at ESPN had this to say recently:
But would you have known, from the way this issue has been portrayed by all of us in the media biz, that the percentage of fans who wish this moment wasn’t happening would be only 52 percent?
Would you have guessed that three fans out of every eight actually want Barry Bonds to break this record?
If those percentages are accurate, many of us have misread the mood of the nation on this. And in more ways than one.
Until now, we haven’t spent much time talking about the racial issues that hover over this man and this event. But this poll tells us we need to do more of that, too.
These moments come along so rarely. I hope we learn. This time.
— Michael Norton
Upon his first visit to Yankee Stadium, even the undauntable Ruth reportedly quipped: “Some ballyard”. This has been a special year of baseball for me, stretching back to last year’s miracle, the Red Sox casting off the Curse of the Bambino. I’m not worthy of being a member of the Red Sox Nation, although I did visit Fenway Park on a business trip, in the middle of winter, just to touch its hallowed walls. Nor am I a Yankee hater—quite the opposite. For many years the Yanks were the closest thing I had to a favorite team, mostly because Mickey Mantle was my first hero and all those pinstripes filling the books of baseball lore.
I can’t honestly say I have a favorite team, although I felt a certain affinity with the Nationals this season. I acquired that affinity in spring training, when I had an eye on the Mets. I had just moved to the Hampton Roads area, where the local team is the Norfolk Tides, the Triple A affiliate of the Mets. Hampton Roads made a credible, though ultimately unsuccessful bid for the Nationals nee Expos. This didn’t particularly break my heart. In Oklahoma City I acquired an appreciation for Minor League baseball following the Oklahoma Redhawks, the Triple A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Minor league ball puts you in touch with the larger world of baseball, the organization of baseball. That perspective led to the discovery of college ball, even high school ball. Shawnee (OK) took great pride in its high school program, with one of the better high school fields hosting tournaments every year which attracted the best high school and American Legion teams. Some Ballyard.
I’ve also learned that there are many different means of interacting with baseball. I lay on my sofa, closed my eyes, and listened to the Norfolk Tides fall to the Toledo Mud Hens in the first round of the International League playoffs. Having been to a number of games at Harbor Park, including several against the Mud Hens, I could visualize the game in such a marvelous way space lost all meaning. Some Ballyard.
Baseball has embraced the newly networked world in a way which must be the envy of other professional sports. I have been able to watch an amazing amount of baseball this year on my Desktop via their All Access package, including most of the Nationals exciting run in the first half of the season. One can follow many, if not most, Minor League teams across the country on Internet simulcasts. Gameday pages, online sortable, searchable stats, web sites, and blogs. Some Ballyard.