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Analogy of the Day - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Analogy of the Day
Chuck Klosterman, whose writing usually entertains me and sometimes enthralls me, weighs in on the Barry Bonds story today over at ESPN.com, in an essay that is also running in ESPN: The Magazine. I'm sure Greil Marcus is next. As absurd as the furor has become, though, there are parts of Klosterman's piece that resonated for me:
Early in "Game of Shadows," authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams try to illustrate what motivated Bonds to inject chemicals into his rump, and they suggest that his actions were driven by jealousy and, to a lesser extent, race. "They're just letting him do it because he's a white boy," Bonds supposedly said of McGwire's steroid-fueled run at the single-season home run mark. This statement makes Bonds seem as paranoid as Richard Nixon. How, one wonders, could unseen puppet masters be pulling the strings behind the home run race? It all seems crazy.

But, then again, nobody ever wrote a takedown book on Mark McGwire. I'm not sure anyone even considered it.

Nixon wasn't always wrong.
Likening Bonds to Nixon may be totally over the top, but it helps to legitimate my recent rant in which I asked why the nation seems more preoccupied with Bonds's deceptions than those of George W. Bush. And I have to agree with Klosterman that it's highly unlikely that McGwire ever would have found a Fainaru-Wada and Williams as his muse, at least without the fuss surrounding Bonds today. More broadly, I think Klosterman worms his way to the real problem that statistically-minded people have with Bonds which is not simply that he appears to have benefited from indulging in artifice, but that he did so when he was already one of the best, if not the best, player in baseball. You can't throw his career out the window very easily, since he did better before his alleged misdeeds than most alleged misdoers did after them. I mean, what was Mark McGwire hitting in 1991?

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Muse: the fan, no fan of mine

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masoo From: masoo Date: April 11th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Because I like Klosterman, I have not yet posted anything nasty about his column on my blog, although I sent off a long email to my nephew. Suffice to say I think all of his five points were bogus. I'd also note that statistically-minded people tend to be about the only ones left who support Bonds, if by statistically-minded you mean "people who use their brains and hearts in equal portions" rather than what Klosterman means, "I'm nostalgic for the number 714."

I *did* email Klosterman, or at least the ESPN folks. Here's what I said:
I'm one of those Giants fans who gave Barry Bonds a 40-second standing ovation on Opening Day, so you can feel free to ignore me as too biased to be worthy of your attention. But I'd like to remind Chuck of one important point. Hank Aaron, a fine fellow that everyone except racists and a coupla old friends of the Ruth family loved, passed Babe Ruth more than 30 years ago. Yet "Babe Ruth" survives ... if he didn't, no one would be upset about Barry "surpassing" him. After Barry passes the Babe (and I sure hope he does, he hasn't exactly been blasting them out of the park lately), people will get cranky and Giants fans will celebrate, and in 30 years, Barry will at most be a representative of his era, while Babe Ruth will still be "Babe Ruth." The Klostermans of the world need to chill ... "Babe Ruth" ain't going anywhere.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 11th, 2006 09:09 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I think I agree with you. I didn't say "statheads" for a reason. Klosterman was writing from the perspective of a Romantic investment in statistics, whereby certain numbers are invested with the same devotion as a religious fetish. When I wrote "statistically minded," that's what I had in mind. Anyway, I'd cheer Barry too, as you must know.
schencka From: schencka Date: April 12th, 2006 07:23 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I've been a huge Bonds fan since before Sid Bream switched sides and went from the Pirates to the Braves.
Since you mention GW Bush, I would like to mention another alcoholic: Mickey Mantle. Is it better to be an alcoholic than a part-time designer steroid user? We're not talking about Lyle Alzado keeling over here -- he was on the East German 1986 stuff. And Mantle took a liver from somebody else to live for a year -- where's the moral anxiety there?
I think one could think about Barry Bonds-as-media-figuration. He's taken the sore loser role Charles Barkley once held. --adam
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 12th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
But I doubt whether he could ever rehabilitate himself in the mediascape like Sir Charles did. As I always tell people, you can go get some "cream" of a steroid nature over the counter down at Walgreen's and rub it on your aching muscles to see what it's like to be an abuser.
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