Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The view from inside the moment...

By my expert estimation, I'd say approximately 456 million people are currently logging on to their various blogs and message boards to write about something that happened thirty minutes ago on national TV. Not an every day something, not an unexpected something, but a once-in-a-lifetime something that will change a sport and the nation that calls it a past time.

Twenty years from now, I will tell my children that I was sitting on my Wal-Mart futon in my PJs talking sports with my roommate when the crack of a bat and the flicker of a thousand flashbulbs marked the moment of history being made. The funny thing is, my roommate Alicia and I were talking about how, for all the controversy surrounding it, we wanted to see the moment when it happened. We wanted to be in it, in the drowning pull and the skew of the lights that makes what's already bigger so dangerously close to immortal. And then it happened.

To be honest, I don't know how I feel about Barry. I want to hate him. I want to hate what he has done to my favorite sport. I want to hate the way he plays this game. But I can't. Because as a rational human being, I just can't make a case against him. The truth is, he hasn't done anything to the sport--or at least not anymore that each of us fans has done. By tuning into the Giants games for the last two nights, just like I tuned in to every Cardinals and Cubs game a few years ago, I am playing a role in propagating this thing that I want to loathe for making a beautifully crafted game of patience and practice into a circus spectacle.

I think what we have to accept as fans, is that just like everything else in the world we live in, the sports we love are going to grow and change with the times. I do believe Barry did steroids, just like Jose, Mark, Sammy, and a long list of other popular players. They did it because they were trying to keep up. Because like it or not, this sport that I love is their job, and just like everyone else they want to do their job the best they can--even if it means doing something they know is wrong.

Could you honestly tell me that if you, John Smith the accountant, were falling behind at work while your co-workers Dick and Jane just zoomed through their daily routines and got praise from the boss every day, that you wouldn't accept a little pill that would help you keep up with them and increase the longevity and performance you can sustain in your career? We live in a competitive world as it is, but the sports realm only amplifies that competitiveness because it's the sole element of the game. You have to get the edge up on your opponents, or stand to lose everything.

I will say this--the one thing that sticks in my craw about Barry is the same thing that sticks in my craw about T.O. and Kobe and every other athlete who wants to act like he is bigger than the sport. No matter how great an athlete you are, you will never equal the size of the game. Long after you are gone and the last memories of your existence are framed in some Hall of Fame, the game will still be played. Someone else will break your records. Someone else will become the next you, just like you were the next somebody else.

So don't act like you own it all, and don't draw the media to your side just to tell them how miserable they have made your life. You wouldn't be who you are or do what you do if somebody wasn't there to watch it. Besides, can you really say that a paycheck with eight or more zeros doesn't cover the hassle of the media circus? It is one thing for one of the most popular athletes in the world to be followed ceaselessly by the press, it would be another if the aforementioned John Smith had to leave his office every day with his $30,000 a year paycheck in his pocket only to deal with a crowd of flashbulbs and tape recorders asking him how he could have missed that transaction last month that left one of his accounts unbalanced or how he plans to replace the Excell document that his computer mysteriously destroyed while he was eating his $6 cheese sandwich in the company cafeteria. John Smith doesn't get paid enough to deal with that, but athletes do. If they wanted to take a major salary cut and act like their job is more like everyone else's job, they could be treated accordingly. Until then, suck it up.

I'm glad I saw Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run. I'm even glad I witnessed the near deaths of a hundred plus people scrambling for a piece of leather and lace, and then the ten-minute interruption in the game for an impromptu (but very well-orchestrated) ceremony that brought a tear to everyone's eye--particularly the eyes of the Washington Nationals whose faces seemed to express the sadness that can only come from knowing that losing this game would be the highlight of their season.

Many people will wax eloquent about tonight's events, from now until eternity. Who knows exactly what it will do to this sport, but I sincerely hope that it will help bring baseball back into the forefront of the nation's attention as it deserves. And maybe if it does, the devil horns on Barry's head will turn into tiny support posts for an itsy-bitsy, almost invisible, rusted out and 'roided up halo.



Toni said...

What's a craw? Did you make that up? I'm confuzzled.

Belle of the Ball said...

I don't know what it is pre-zactly, but I've heard the expression...probably from my dad...or Coach it's an old south thing