Monday, May 21, 2007


Watchin baseball with TF, my upstairs neighbor and 20-year friend. We're Giants fans, and the Giants are up 3-0 on the Astros in the 8th. Bonds hit a ball to the warning track to right center, not the very deepest part of Death Valley, but deep enough to be outta here in most parks. Meanwhile, Noah Lowry has given way to Brad Hennessey who reminds me of Steve McQueen. Sweet pitching tonight (2 of the Giants runs are unearned on a silly error at first), and that's the way I like it.

But this is not about beautiful curve balls or late movement hard fastballs ... maybe more on that tomorrow when I have slated an evening with Tim Lincecum and Roy Oswalt. (Yech, Benitez is up ... Sabean's worst move ever ... I am convinced Benitez is just plain dumb ... but that is for another time when he actually blows it. This time he got 3-up, 3-down in a non-save situation.)

I wanna say that Bonds is getting the bum's rush. Of course, I'm a Giants fan, but that means not only that I am predisposed to like him on some level, but also that I have seen the thrills. The problem with all the nastiness is that it, like so many things in American life, seems to pin all the ills on one guy while pretending that everybody else is a clean-living christian. It's just ain't so.

The SF Chroncle reported today that for the first time that prison spending will outpace higher education spending. We love to point fingers in this country. You ... you ... you did it ... throw the bum in jail. But what happens when you throw people in jail for just being unlucky enough to be caught at what 100 times more people do every day. That's the war on pot ... and that's the war on Bonds. We want to diss Bonds because he got caught (sort of) and because we love to see big dudes get caught. We love to see anybody get caught.

The war on Bonds comes from the unlikely combination of his having been targeted by the federales, the fact that he has the personality of a rabid poodle, and the lionization of the man he seeks to pass. This is no knock on Hank Aaron who is fine man. But it is a knock on the slobbering pack mentality of the media and its public that reduces this situation to the nice sweet Hank versus the bionic cheater Bonds. Why is Hank's sweetness so ripe for the occasion? ... is it just because it fits the paradigm, and once the paradigm is set, no one has the cojones to head in another direction? Yeah.

The fact is that Bonds accomplished his feats on a level playing field relative to his peers but not relative to his predecessors. But that is the way things are. Babe Ruth probably never saw let alone lifted a weight. Should we diss Bonds because he works out year round? Where were all the Bonds haters when McGwire and Sosa were fighting it out?

There is a cynical everyday desperation afoot in this society ... we see it every day from the red light runners to the cell phone jackasses to the gas guzzlers to the professional religious hate mongers. It's exactly that cynicism that points at Bonds mocking and bleats cheater, as if projecting the cheating absolves the rest of us from our complicity. He played by the rules he got given, and he is the best; we used to love him, but the opporutnity to point and scream loser is too tempting. When we diss him, we diss ourselves. "No bluff ... just naked American aggression" (quoted from the announcer for the U.S. Poker Championships which I have on in the background now that the Giants game is over).

If Barry's tainted but real, so are the rest of us. His feat is our feat, his being is ours. Face the music, folks, because we live it every day.

Giants won, Bonds was 0-2. Lincecum tomorrow.

POSTSCRIPT: more on this from Gwen Knapp of the Chronicle writing on Jason Giambi.

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