Monday, May 29, 2006

Barry Bonds hits # 715

Anyone who knows me, knows im a big baseball fan. Not only a big baseball fan, but a big San Francisco Giants fan. My cousin took my to my first Giants game at Candlestick Park (their old stadium) when I was seven years old. We sat in the cheap seats far away from home plate, but i remember it being a magical day, even if i couldnt really tell what was happening on the field. From that day on i followed the team as best i could, often staying up way past bedtime to listen to the late scores on the radio (since i lived in New York and the night games would not end until one in the morning.)

The Giants are one of these teams that never quite make it to the top. They have yet to win a World Series Championship since they moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958, although they came close a few years ago in 2002. They were playing the Angels in the World Series and were a few outs away from winning the whole thing when they let it all slip away once again. They lost game 6 in the late innings after building a comfortable lead, and then proceeded to lose game 7. I listened to that game six on the radio coming back from a big anti-war demo in DC, packed in a van with about 10 other students who could care less about baseball. At the time i was happier that the demo has turned out so well and so the loss was less hard on me.

Fast forward to 2006. The Giants are not winning much of anything for a long time. Their best player for the past 13 years, Barry Bonds, is hobbling around and is a few mis-steps away from retirement. The team has been surrounded by controversy after Bonds has been implicated in the steriod scandal that has rocked baseball over the past two years.

Kind of like that best friend who uses you to get in with the popular kids and then dumps you when he or she has gotten in good, Major League Baseball has turned on Barry Bonds this past year in an effort to cover up its own shortcomings. Barry Bonds was one of those players who rescued baseball in the mid 1990s. After a labor strike ended the 1994 season, baseball started losing serious ground to the other major sports like basketball and football (even hockey if you can imagine that). It was not until the "big home run sluggers" like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds started chasing baseballs home run records that the fans started filling the seats again. Right around that time, baseball designed a series of crazy cartoon commercials featuring players like the ones mentioned above looking like muscle-packed super heroes. Now of course they say they "want to come down hard" on illegal substance users. They can barely hide their contempt and racist rhetoric on the nightly news when discussing Barry Bonds. How quickly friends forget.

Well Barry hit historic home run #715 yesterday afternoon against the Colorado Rockies passing the legendary Babe Ruth, a player who never had to face African American pitchers due to segration in professional baseball. It was nice to see it happen at San Francisco's home ballpark in front of all of his hometown fans. Barry deserved that after all he has been through.

This will probably be the last Giants highlight for me for several years to come. Barry is going to retire, probably after this season, and the Giants are not going to keep trying to compete in the "richest owner takes all" sweepstakes that has become major league baseball. I will be rooting for him the rest of the way... perhaps this fall on my way back from another anti-war demo in DC I will be able to turn on the radio and listen to Barry hittin' one out of the ballpark , just for old times sake.

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