Useless Blogging

July 28, 2007

Bonds on the Brink

Filed under: Games,My World,Thoughts — steegness @ 1:10 am

MLB.com covers #754.

This past Tuesday, friends from high school invited me to attend an Orioles game. Before the game, there was a sendoff ceremony for Cal Ripken Jr., who will enter the Baseball Hall Of Fame on Sunday.

There were so many — myself included — who held up Gehrig’s streak as untouchable. 2130 games! Even with the massively long baseball season (compare it to football, if you would), that number is horrendously out of reach for most imaginations. But maybe that was the magic of it; it wasn’t a record about imagination. It wasn’t about skill, or power, or anything that only certain people could possess. It was about showing up and working hard. About taking care of yourself and your team. It’s a record that can’t be bought, sold, or bartered for, as there’s nothing in the world aside from grit, determination, and a rock-solid work ethic that can make your game fifteen years down the line as simple as the first.

He worked hard. He shilled for milk. The night he broke Gehrig’s record, he thanked his parents, his wife, and Eddie Murray — all people I’d also credit for making me the way I am. As he stood there… as he will stand on Sunday… I feel great pride in even the most passing association I can have with that man. (aside: read Sporting News’ reprint of their 1995 Sportsman of the Year article.)

And now we’re on the cusp of another broken record, another unreachable milestone… and I feel almost dirty having played baseball in my past. 755 is another dream number that stands tall in the minds of baseball fans (I’d peg the last big number to be 56), and I’m practically sickened by the man who stands to break it and the stormcloud that surrounds him. I get that not everyone can be the paragon of integrity that Cal Ripken sought to be (and achieved pretty well, I’d say), but just the mere thought of Bonds overtaking Aaron makes my skin crawl.

The worst part is that this is the best thing going for sports right now! Katie Couric quizzed sportwriter William Nack on the craziness of it all, and satirical web-rag The Onion put the current world into sharp relief with their wit in a story meant to be funny, but finds itself true, all too true.

Looking around, it’s hard to find ANY ethics, much less a solid work ethic. Character is a thing of the past, a relic immortalized in bronze and tucked away for our kids to gawk at later. We cheer it, sure, but we only get to experience it alongside whatever other nostalgia is going on.

When Cal broke Gehrig’s record, I cried. If and when Bonds break Aaron’s record, I may cry again, but for a vastly different reason.

If you’re a Major League pitcher reading this, and you face Bonds, pitch around him. Even if it walks in the winning run, pitch around him. Not because he doesn’t deserve to break the record (though he doesn’t), but because we as fans of the game don’t deserve him.

2 Responses to “Bonds on the Brink”

  1. Junima Says:

    Damn, you’re a good writer! Excellent!

  2. Skwid Says:

    You’re in good company; one of my favorite bloggers wrote a similar proposal recently.