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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
It Never Ends
It was announced today that Barry Bonds had just barely snuck by Alfonso Soriano for the last fan-voted outfield position in the All-Star Game. Here's how ESPN framed the news on its home page:

It has frequently been the case in the years since fans began voting the starting rosters that aging players have been given the nod over more deserving young ones. Everybody's favorite "sport-saving" white guy Cal Ripken Jr. -- whom I always liked, incidentally -- was one of the most egregious examples in his last season, getting voted in with some of the worst numbers of any starter at his position. The bias bothers some, but, like most players, I can live with it.

What drives me batty, though, is the idea promulgated in the lead-in to the ESPN story, that Barry is having a "lackluster" season and therefore only an All-Star because of his overall career numbers. Don't believe me? Check out the "OPS" category on the stat sheet, a number that combines on-base percentage and slugging. In his best years, Bonds led all of Major League Baseball by a wide margin. This year, however, while playing on a terrible Giants team with no hitters of consequence to protect him in the line-up, his advantage has slipped. Yes, he only leads the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez by a little. I guess that's what qualifies as "lackluster" for the mainstream media. And that's all you need to know, really, about the antipathy journalists direct Bonds's way. Like the majority of the Giants' hometown fans, I say, "To hell with them."

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duccio From: duccio Date: July 2nd, 2007 12:20 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
When the Giants used to play at Candlestick, a Charles Schwab advert in center field said, Stocks and BONDS.

Go Barry! The same press trashed the great Muhammad Ali too - probably for the same reason, and to the same effect.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 2nd, 2007 12:23 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You're right. Ali was a lot more gregarious and consistently nice to strangers. But there have been players of Bonds's generation -- among them Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson -- who are every bit as "difficult" but impervious to the criticism Barry receives. Skin color still matters.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 2nd, 2007 12:35 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Fantastic observation. Instead of being the best hitter in baseball by a mile, he is by just a little. That's lackluster.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 2nd, 2007 04:22 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I mean, he's old too. And he hasn't tested positive for anything since they started to get serious about the process, which at least qualifies him as innocent until proven guilty. Frankly, though, having seen Mays and Aaron at the end of their respective careers, I'm astonished at how well Barry is performing right now. Barring calamity, he will break Aaron's record while playing outfield, which has to count for something.
masoo From: masoo Date: July 2nd, 2007 02:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
All-Star voting is a joke, of course, with each team pushing fans to vote for their own players. It was especially bad at China Basin the last week or so ... we were constantly reminded to vote for Barry, reminded we could vote 25 times at once, reminded that it was up to us to put Barry in LF for the start of the game, just where he belonged (he does belong, of course, just noting the probable reason his vote count surged at the end).

After today's game was over ... sorry for bugging you with those text messages! It's our annual "contact Charlie" day :-) ... they immediately announced that Barry had made the starting lineup, which elicited a great cheer from those of us who were still around after the rout of the D-Backs.

This will give Giants fans a chance to speak to the country, as it were. One aspect of the Barry hatred over the years has been an additional dismissal of Giants fans as ostriches who refuse to believe our hero is dirty, or even worse, Giants fans as amoral douchebags who happily cheer for a cheater. The more this happens, the louder we cheer Barry. The All-Star Game will be our national soap box. When we cheer for him, we'll be cheering for our local fave. We'll also be thumbing our nose at the haters. We'll be giving the raspberry to all those who associate our fandom with the decline of civilization.

And it's worth nothing that we'll also be cheering for San Francisco. The Bay Area knows what the rest of the country thinks of us, knows that the Barry hatred that extends to the fans is also a hatred of what they think San Francisco stands for. When we cheer Barry on national television, we'll be saying fuck you to the haters. At that point, even the local bigots will be siding with the crazy diversity of the Bay ... we may have gay people and liberals and Marxist professors and medical marijuana, but by god, no one else is gonna tell us we suck!
duccio From: duccio Date: July 2nd, 2007 03:53 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

        RIGHT - ON!

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 2nd, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I love the big font!
duccio From: duccio Date: July 2nd, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

<h1> - - - </h1> or <h2> - - - </h2>

Use the above HTML tags
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 2nd, 2007 05:38 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I second duccio's comment. I know the Giants worked hard to get Barry voted in. But it's nice that it worked, regardless. And he's deserving, obviously. Have fun, man!
amackey84 From: amackey84 Date: July 2nd, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

No more clouds please

Nice post. Just wish my fellow "professionals" (and I use that term loosely) would stop with the "cloud" talk whenever they discuss Bonds or steroids. For a profession that demands the use of concise, specific language, clouds and crappy figures of speech — and the laziness such vagaries of language imply — need to disappear. I mean, I don't like the guy, but the grand jury has been convened for two years now? And not a single sniff of evidence? We need to move on. It'll be nice to see Barry in his usual spot in a great ballpark. Congrats.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 3rd, 2007 06:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: No more clouds please

You're right. About the metaphor worn so thin it becomes transparent. "Cloud of suspicion" indeed. Of course, we live in an era when lots of people stare right through clouds, literal or figurative. Blue skies are in the eye of the self-deceiver.

Nice to hear from you again. We really should meet for drinks at some point. Sorry it didn't work out before when I suggested it. I keep running into weird complications. And then I lose phone numbers. Sigh. I'm getting old.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: July 3rd, 2007 12:33 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Barry also leads the league in OBP, and, if you want to get all stat-dorky about it, he's second in the NL in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player, one of the more useful sabermetric stats), behind only the incomparable Chase Utley.

About the only NL All-Star that has me shaking my head is Tucson's own J.J. Hardy, who's having a good year at the plate but doesn't bring as much to the table as Rollins, Renteria, or Ramirez. He's also one of the worst defensive shortstops in the NL.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:31 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Good points, all. Rollins should have been on the roster. But I've seen far worse selections for the All-Star Game.

We should get drinks before you depart, BTW. We'll talk of the Mummers' Parade and how I grew up thinking "Philly Cheesesteaks" were just "steak sandwiches." And Butterscotch Krimpets, too.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: July 3rd, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yeah, this year's rosters aren't bad at all, on balance.

Are you going to be around the last week of July? I leave Thursday for three weeks back East, and then my last stretch in Tucson is from the 26th-2nd or thereabouts. I'll e-mail you when I get back.

Speaking of PA, I'll soon be hanging around your old 'hood -- my grandmother insists on dragging me out to New Hope every time I visit. It's a nice area, but sheesh: how many times does one person need to see Washington's Crossing?
schencka From: schencka Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:58 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Bonds could play for three more years and *still* lead the league in walks.

For God's sake, his career walks number makes Babe Ruth look terrestrial.

Geez, he's having an "off" year. His OBP is "only" .510, not the .600 of his 2004 season.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: July 3rd, 2007 02:05 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Of course, the fact that there aren't any hitters to protect him is a big factor in the number being that high. Jeff Kent isn't the greatest player, but he kept pitchers honest enough to ensure that Barry saw more to hit.

In a related note, it's amazing how few sportswriters seem capable of looking up the number of official at-bats a player has had. Bonds may not have many homers or RBIs compared to some, but he also gets way fewer chances to hit.
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