Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Bonds, Rose Riddle Looms"

Tim mentioned the steriods scandal a few days back, which always immediately conjures up images of Kevin Nealon reporting for SNL's weekend update on the "All-Drug Olympics" and weightlifter (the late great Phil Hartman) who pulls his arms completely off in an attempt to break the record. Who can forget Nealon reporting back in after the affair: "Well, that's got to be disappointing for the Big Russian..." In any case, with the baseball hall of fame voting set to begin for the new year - and such greats as Sandberg, Mattingly, Dawson, Goose Gossage, Wade Boggs and even Jim Abbott on the ballot (we are getting old) - Berine Lincicome has a great article on the fallout from the doping epidemic. Some great quotes:

"The charm and bait of baseball is that we forgive everything (the Black Sox, the DH, the drug-plagued 70's, the labour disputes, the skipped World Series of '94, the overripe celebrations of the Red Sox), but this will take awhile to excuse." "While we are at it, how seedy seems the summer of '98, when we all fell in love with baseball again." "If we throw out Bonds, we throw out the last 10 years. And maybe we should."
The article focuses most explicitly on what to do about the ancient records exceeded by McGuire, Bonds, Sosa, etc... But my instinct tells me that the ancient numbers of 61 and 755 will never be forgotten, no matter how the ball gets juiced, the pitching mediocre, the stadiums smaller. Runs that are earned - sacrificed bunts, stolen bases, hitting to the opposite field - these are the charms of baseball, and sadly one of the reasons that I have fallen out of love with the game that, in the playoffs, I used to tape at night and then wake up early in the morning before Junior High to watch the heroics of guys like Francisco Cabrera in the bottom of the 9th against Pittsburgh. It also begins with a tantalizing parallel, that might best summarize the argument (which I agree with whole-heartedly) that Pete Rose belongs in Cooperstown:
"Debate gurgles already about Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame, as if the future honour would certify Bonds' deceit, as such a thing would endorse Pete Rose's gambling... What I say about these parallel conundrums is that Rose never got a base hit because he was betting he would."
Charlie Hustle played the game as hard (mostly harder) as anyone. He belongs in the Hall, and the ongoing saga of the game proves it with each passing day.

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