Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Barry Bonds and Modern Baseball Rant

What Would Henry Aaron (not) Do?

So last night Barry Bonds broke Henry Aaron's HR record. I'm still trying to figure out if steroids give him some sort of enhanced killer instinct along with the muscles and larger melon. I'm not talking about the 'roid-rage angle. I'm talking about the enhanced coordination and focus it takes to hit a 90 mph baseball hard and long. I know steroids turn pop-ups into McCovey Cove shots, but do they help Bonds zero in on a ball and make more solid contact? I thought bulky guys lost dexterity as they got huge.

Not that I dig the guy. By all accounts, Barry Bonds is an asshat. But I still come back to my memory of how freaking hard it was to hit anything but a straight fastball. I knew my career as a baseball player was over when I realized I couldn't touch a curve and I couldn't see a change up coming. Bonds still has had to make solid contact 756 times. I think that's still impressive in and of itself.

I watched Henry Aaron hit 715 off Al Downing. Just about everybody watched Aaron that night. Everybody but guys in white sheets revered Hank Aaron. He was and is a class guy and an excellent ambassador for the game. Back then I was consumed with baseball. This Week in Baseball with Mel Allen was the only TV show I never missed. I had the Luis Tiant delivery down. I had Mike Hargrove's "Human rain delay" batter's box ritual down as well. I played little league with Sparky Anderson's son Albert. Somewhere I still have my game three of the 1975 series ticket stub. I destroyed the garage door using it as a backstop.

As a youngster I lived, ate and breathed baseball-especially Cincinnati Reds baseball. Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Davey Concepcion, George Foster, Caesar Geronimo, Ken Griffey (the elder), and on the mound, Jack Billingham (or whomever Sparky decided to let pitch that at bat. But after the Reds won the series in 1990, I totally lost interest. Hockey and football now rule. The best thing I got out of the last few days of Barry 24-7 was a rekindling of the memory of how much I once loved baseball. The worst was being reminded that the recent crop of players (ex. Sosa, McGwire, Sheffield and Bonds) don't measure up to the men of yesteryear.

1 comment:

WufPirate said...

The Pittsburgh Pirates played an exhibition game with their farm team (at the time), the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC. I was about 10 years old - we got to sit in the right field corner just beside BB. It amazed me, even then, how much trash-talk he gets from the fans.