Friday, November 16, 2007

Truly the National Pastime

It seems as though “America’s pastime” has really become America’s pastime. With the federal indictment of Barry Bonds and the Alex Rodriguez free-agency soap opera, baseball has devolved into probably the most tabloid-like sport in America. It’s pretty sad, because even though I’m not a huge baseball fan, I hate to see something with such a long and detailed history that is already struggling with modern popularity fall farther behind the glory sports of football and basketball. I’ve always enjoyed going to the ballpark and watching afternoon games, and I’ve come to appreciate the slower pacing of the game and the minute details to the game that make it interesting. Bonds and Rodriguez have turned baseball into tabloid-fodder where the biggest interest lies, not in the game, but in the foolish acts perpetrated by those who are supposed to represent the game.

The Barry Bonds’ indictment on four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice on Thursday, November 15 could cost him up to 30 years in jail. Bonds’ history of claims that he “never knowingly” took steroids and the fact that there is no positive proof that he took steroids is well-documented, but it’s both satisfying and dismaying to see that somebody finally got him on something. It’s the idea that you won’t get caught all the time, but somebody will catch you at least once, eventually. Honestly, I’m glad to see that Bonds’ might get what’s coming to him, given that he seems like an ass with no appreciation of anybody or anything beyond himself. It’s sad, also, that one of the greatest players, if not the greatest player, of his generation is caught up in a federal case like this. I would imagine this is what it was like when the “Shoeless” Joe Jackson / Black Sox scandal of 1919 was discovered.

As for Bonds’ Major League home run record, I don’t really know what to think. On one hand, it should have an asterisk with it, but so should almost every record from the last fifteen years. Bonds most likely got help staying healthy and strong with steroids, but so did a lot of other Major Leaguers (we won’t mention Sen. George Mitchell’s steroid investigation that may have 10-15 current free agents mentioned in it), and Bonds still had to actually hit the ball. Some people are calling for his record to be stricken from the books if he is convicted, but as far as I know, Pete Rose still owns the all-time hits record and he’s still banned from baseball for betting on games. I suppose it should stand and history will judge it the way people will want it to. And if the record is broken again by Alex Rodriguez, won’t that still be tainted?

Speaking of A-Rod and his ridiculousness, I agree with what I heard on the radio the other day: Alex Rodriguez makes people not like him. He already had the biggest contract in baseball history (10 years, $250 million), then opted out of his contract with the Yankees to pursue free agency, supposedly because 1) there was too much pressure and scrutiny on him in New York and 2) the Yankees dumped manager Joe Torre earlier this year. Then, he says that he won’t even talk to the Yankees unless they offer a contract of 10 years and $300+ million. Eighteen days later, A-Rod goes to back to the Yankees, asking to return to the club, and now we have an “outline” of a contract for 10 years, $275 million. This guy is an idiot.

Yes, A-Rod is the best player of his generation, but he hasn’t produced in the post-season, already said it was only about the money when he signed his original $250 million contract with the Texas Rangers, announced that he was opting out of his contract during Game 4 of the World Series, taking a lot of well-deserved press from the Series, the Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies, and whines too much for a guy who gets more money to swing a bat than anybody else in history. He better believe there’s pressure to win a World Series and produce if he wants the fat contract. Stop whining and start playing. By the way, I love that the Bonds’ indictment has left A-Rod’s contract talks in the dust as the biggest baseball story in America. Heck, even in the New York Daily News, the contract headline is in a tiny corner of the sports page.

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In other wacky news, how about Arizona taking down No. 2 Oregon in the latest BCS upset? In case you missed it, the Wildcats defeated the Ducks, 34-24 on Thursday night to pretty much end Oregon’s hopes of a BCS title and the Pac-10 title. I think it’s the fifth time in eight weeks the No. 2 team in the nation has been taken out by an unranked opponent. Hopefully current No. 3 Kansas (10-0) survives the weekend against Iowa State to move to No. 2, and can win out against No. 5 Missouri and No. 4 Oklahoma in its last two games to give them a shot a the BCS title. The only disappointing thing about that is that they are still a Big 12 team, and not a mid-major like Boise State or former No. 2 University of South Florida.

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