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The Comparison - De File — LiveJournal
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
The Comparison
It will be interesting to see what the constantly vilified Barry Bonds does next year. But his ever-so-brief appearance with the San Francisco Giants this season suggests that he still has something in the tank, whereas his onetime rival Sammy Sosa -- back in 1998, no one talked about Bonds at all -- seems to have been running on fumes for quite some time. Of course, Barry was a far better player than Sosa at their respective peaks as all-around athletes -- 1991-1996 for Barry, I'd say -- and remains a far better hitter than Sosa (or Mark McGwire) ever was. Still, in this time of renewed Barry-basing -- the San Francisco Chronicle's odious Bruce Jenkins has outdone himself with today's über-odious column, to give just one example of hundreds -- it bears repeating that, if we assume that the worst rumors are actually are true, the consumption of performance-enhancing substances doesn't seem to extend the longevity of players' careers nearly as much as their overall brilliance. I know, I know: I can't shut up about this. The thing is, I have months of baseball commentary to catch up on, with almost no hope of my team's season outliving the weekend.
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pissang From: pissang Date: September 25th, 2005 12:17 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Don't rub it in. He was a PR acquisition anyway. After being unable to sign a big-name pitcher, the O's settled on taking a famous person rather than exiting the off-season having gotten no one at all. So much for PR. Anyhow, here's my abridged commentary on your collective Barry Bonds posts:

In a way I admire your loyalty to Bonds. You are supposed to back up your friends no matter the circumstantial evidence because they are your friends (so says Charles Barkley or something akin to that.) And although Barry Bonds is less a friend than someone who gives you vicarious pleasure every time he belts a 400-footer and who would laugh in your face if you saw him on the street and asked for his autograph, we'll call him one for argument's sake.

I also know that you are not naive enough to think that Bonds hasn't used as many needles as the Trainspotting prop department. The difference between him and Palmeiro--another player with a sweet swing who probably would have been pretty darn good without 'roids anyway--is his rhetorical deftness. Actually, he's probably just more intelligent overall than Palmeiro.

My question is: would San Fran fans, including you, still be rooting for him if he were now, like Sosa, a 220 hitter with mediocre power?

My other question is: Did you get my last email?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 25th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'm not willing to say I know what he did, but professional sports -- and professional life too, for that matter -- are so full of performance enhancements that I'm not sure it matters. I mean, to answer you back, do you really think that Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson haven't had some help that the less privileged among us are unlikely to gain access to? In the end, I'm not sure it matters much, despite what Frank Robinson says. People didn't take vitamins in the 1960s either. Shit, even the rush I get from my daily "Emergen-C" powder exceeds anything that Aaron or Mays were likely to take when they were playing.

I'd be rooting for Barry regardless, BTW. Many fans wouldn't be, I guess. But Barry is Barry, so lameness is still a ways off. The pitch he hit that upper-deck home run at RFK on was filthy and he still kept it fair. That's got nothing to do with steroids. Actually, his game has been pretty much the same since the early 1990s from a statistical standpoint aside from the aberration of 2001. He walks more now. But that's not all his doing. Incidentally, if you want to look at suspicious numbers, I'll take Brady Anderson's 52 over Bonds's 73 any day of the week.

Which e-mail? I answered you back I thought.
pissang From: pissang Date: September 25th, 2005 07:25 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I was being sarcastic but I wasn't. I agree with you that it's pretty tough to draw lines of morality and I also look down my nose at writers who look down their noses. However, even though I'm not sure where to locate those moral markers, I assume they have long been crossed anyway. Maybe I'm more cynical than you. I think they are all crooked somehow, the owners and the players (except for Brady--he was just one of the first to use creatine), but I watch sports anyway because I enjoy doing so.

I gave you an affirmative on Tuesday.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 25th, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
What's "crooked," though, is the economic landscape of American professional sports. The search for ways of enhancing one's performance is an ancillary problem. Regardless, Barry remains one of the best two or three hitters in the game. I'd maybe rank Pujols and Manny -- when he's paying attention -- with Bonds. But the fact that Bonds is still as good as he after not playing all year -- it's amazing.
From: songsiheard Date: September 25th, 2005 01:09 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I was going to put something on the printculture offset blog about the Bonds thing (coupled with the pitchfork thing I emailed you about, thinking about "priorities"), and kept thinking about what you'd think about it the whole time, and then thought about it too much and it just died. Oh well.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 25th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I would love to have seen you write on that topic! I've been remiss in my Printculture perusing, I'm afraid. These are busy times and I've been focused on other matters. But I like what you're doing there. I've meant to respond a couple times, as well as to something that EH wrote. Some day I'll actually act on the impulse before my meditations become untimely.

Send me that snail-mail address, when you get a chance. . .
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