Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Fly Route

July 26, 2007

It's finally time to write again about Barry Bonds now that he is three swings from breaking the home run record.

Bonds sits just two bombs behind Hank Aaron as I write this, and I'm honestly surprised how I feel about his final push toward the record.

I'm not furious. I'm not mad, and I don't plan on protesting watching it or any other such useless maneuver.

If it happens when I'm near a television, I'll watch, and I suspect many others well as well.

I didn't figure it'd be like this. Two years ago, I was so mad I swore I'd never recognize his home run number nor pay it any attention. But I changed.

I'm not mad at Barry Bonds for cheating anymore. I'm still mad at him for being a prick, a jerk and 25 other things I can't print in this paper. I'm over the cheating, however, and Bud Selig and all of baseball's fans should be, too.

For me, it came down to the number of people caught cheating. It seems nearly everyone either is or was cheating. Look around. It's far from just baseball. People are consistently failing tests in every sport. In the NFL, San Diego linebacker Shawn Merriam -- he of the hit so massive it knocked the will to play football right out Priest Holmes' ear hole -- missed four games last season due to a performance enhancing drug-related suspension.

I haven't followed this year's Tour de France beyond the most basic of stories. Still, if I've read five articles about the race, all five have been primarily about one leader or another doping, or last year's winner being forced to sit out the race entirely.

The rate of baseball players being caught seems to have slackened, but having seen how many people from such different sports and different walks of life are willing to cut the steroid corner, can we really assume they've quit, or is safer to assume they just found a better way?

Some have obviously quit, if they were using (I swear, ever idiot I drafted to my hopeless fantasy baseball team must have had an epiphany during the offseason -- I'm looking at you, Mr. Tejada.) But others soldier on. Either way, it's obvious plenty are and were using. So many in fact, that it seems ridiculous to point anger at one person for committing the same sin dozens, if not hundreds did.

Face it: they all have done it. The ones you like, the ones you hate, the ones on your team and the ones on your enemies', they all share performance enhancing drugs in common. Surely you could come up with an impressive list of athletes that really did it all the right way, but the staggering numbers and frequency with which people are being caught across the sporting spectrum has led me to give up the fight. It has rendered further accusations and results meaningless to me, because I assume nearly everyone playing at sports' highest levels has done it.

So I can no longer hate Bonds for that. As for the rest, like his generally poison-filled attitude toward life, I guess my desire to see that monumental home run outweighs it.

I don't like Peyton Manning and I watched him win the Super Bowl. I don't like Texas, but I flat out cheered for VinceYoung a few years ago in the Rose Bowl as he led the Longhorns to the national championship.

I don't like Bonds at all, but after he sets the mark, he's done. He'll retire and we'll all celebrate. In 10 years' time as other players approach his record, we'll remember some of the reasons we hated him, and in 25, we may not remember any.

The reasons will fade, but the memory of seeing a historic homer won't. That's why, despite my personal feelings toward the guy, I'll be watching Barry Bonds and his run at history.

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