Sunday, May 07, 2006

Grace and Grinding It Out

I watched Barry Bonds hit number 713 today at the gym. "Barroid" will pass the Babe's jack mark in the next week or two.

Ruth was the natural. Graceful. By all accounts doing it without much effort. He made an art form out of going yard on a belly full of beer.

Bonds used to be a natural too. Best player of his generation in my mind

When I was a kid my dad and I went to the ‘Stick' in San Francisco to see the Giants and Willie Mays.

Say Hey was another natural.

I love sports mostly because of the grace of it. Watching Mays do something so difficult with such ease was cool on some deep level that I can't exactly explain.

But Bonds has become a grinder these days.

Nothing wrong with that in one sense.

Whatever it takes is the yin to the yang of easy grace.

I like grinders too. Seems like most of us are attracted to both grace and grinding it out.

Pete Rose was the patron saint of grinders. Babe Ruth the icon of grace.

Bonds was another Ruth for most of his career. One of the most natural players in the modern era.

Steroids may be a graceful and aging athlete’s last resort to hold onto the appearance of ease. Unlike beer, though, roids are the ultimate in better grinding through chemistry.

Watching Bonds now I wish he’d gotten out while he was still one of the best of the naturals. Very few players get a chance to take athletic grace to the highest levels and Bonds was one of them. What a shame that after the roids and the staying around too long very few people will remember him for what he once was.

I'm hopin' he’ll figure it out and quit before he gets to Hammerin’ Hank.


Blogger jon said...

Two weeks ago I figured out that there was no chance that Bonds would get close to Aaron. His tenacity in the grinding-it-out mode is making me wonder now.

Haven't figured out whether or not I want that to happen though. I'm neutral for now. Will sure be glad when he passes up the Babe though...

8:42 PM  
Anonymous John Teter said...

Barry Bonds is a sad story. It must be an empty feeling behind all of this for him. Even with all of the delusions of mega-stardom, he must feel his emptiness. Everything but grace.

11:17 PM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

Well with his 18 million I'm sure he's not worried about paying for American healthcare that he may or may not need soon. He's a winner and some people have a hard time with that. Making 18 million for "playing". Having a great time 365 days a year. Its not all bad.

10:15 AM  
Blogger jon said...

Heh - at least Bonds is probably happier than Kobe. And his self-destructive behaviors are less damaging to the lives of the people around him than what Kobe does.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous John Teter said...

Jon, why do you think Bonds is happier than Kobe? Bonds knows he is a cheater, everyone knows he is dirty and he was a great one without drugs. On some level, that must affect him. He must feel some regret as it has all come out. What does a record really mean if you cheat?

Why do you judge self-destructive behaviors and impact on famililes? Is it better to commit adultery and confess it publicly or pump yourself full of drugs knowing you might die prematurely, even when your father, Bobby Bonds, begs you to stop. I don't know how you can say authoritatively Bonds is less destructive than Kobe.

Kobe is really into being a father and will likely still be alive to see his children have children.

11:41 AM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

The reality is neither Bonds nor Kobe cares what we think. They are living their lives and not judging ours.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Well, both of 'em messed up and it's hard to know how to judge which mistake was worse. But Kobe came clean and Bonds hasn't, so I think there's an important difference there.

I'm not neutral. I don't want to see Bonds break either Ruth or Aaron's marks.

If you look at Bonds' career home run stats season by season, I think it's fair to say that during his heavy steroid use years (5) he hit about 100 more total home runs due to the juice than he would have hit naturally. I think that's especially true when you consider how old he was when he started doing roids.

So in my thinking, without cheating Bonds would still have over 600 jacks. But right now the discussion would be whether he was going to catch his godfather, Willie Mays (at 660) instead of Ruth and Aaron.

I can't see celebrating a guy breaking a record when he cheated and used substances that neither Ruth or Aaron used. The record will be phony and it will hurt baseball because most folks will know it's baloney.

4:55 PM  
Blogger jon said...

I actually have no idea whether Bonds or Kobe is happier. I was making a point about the tendency to judge certain people but not others.

Kobe has only come clean if you believe that he didn't rape the girl, and if you believe that this is the only time that he's ever committed adultery. Those are strong assumptions to make.

I have no idea about the limits that steroids has on life expectancy. I certainly haven't seen any studies that suggested that, but perhaps they are out there. In terms of self-destructive behaviors, I would certainly place adultery above steroid use, and I would put sexual assault far above it. If I had to face my wife and family with one of those things, I know for certain which one I would choose.

Again, though, I don't think that we can actually judge people's interiors in these cases. I don't know what Kobe feels inside any more than I know what Bonds feels on the inside.

8:38 PM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

This subject does make me wonder how much blood testing the proffesional athletes are now subjected to. That would be interesting to know.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous John Teter said...

Jon and Wordcat, good ethical and moral discussion about two hurting athletics legends. It is an interesting comparison-contrast.

Worcat, I am with you about Bonds. His legacy is tainted and the shame of it all is that he is one of the purest talents of his generation. He didn't need the juice, but he became jealous when the McGwires and Sosas of the world took it to illegal levels.

Jon, I would also put adultery and sexual assault over steroid abuse. But Kobe's case never went to trial. We honestly don't know what would have went down. I am a big Lakers fan, but I am not trying to sound like a chauvenist homer here. If he raped her, he should be in prison, and trading in the purple and gold for an orange jumpsuit. But there were some legitimate questions about this woman's character and the timeline. Reports came out she was an NBA groupie and was intimate with Nick Van Exel and other Nugget players. What really happened in that room? Something terrible, but I am not ready to make a judgement on that one.

From personal admission, Kobe is an adulterer. However, Bonds is an adulterer and a steroid abuser. That can't be good for the either family.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

I like everybody's passion. Good to feel important stuff.

I'm just in a different place. I don't see any significant difference between cheating the game or cheating your wife from a Christian take.

I understand some folks feel that difference from a cultural and political point of view.

Conservatives tend to focus on personal and family morality and excuse gross public and institutional immorality.

I think Bonds is an equal opportunity offender.

But as 3 says, he's probably laughing all the way to the bank.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Matthew Pascal said...

Just to give my take...

I'm kinda under the opinion that both offensess (Kobe and Bonds) are equally destructive. Both of them are cheating people, and both of them are hurting and manipulating people who put their trust in the person at hand...

I think that the current evangelical perspective puts an innapropriate balance on what is the "worse" sin in many cases, when in actuality both are equally destructive sins...

Maybe Kobe hurt several females who felt like he was committed to them, but hasn't Bonds hurt millions who felt like he was committed to them?

Whether it's from juicing it through a needle or juicing it through other means... both are cheating people, but pontentially Bonds was cheating many, many more millions of people through the needle...

11:05 PM  
Anonymous John Teter said...

I think someone should write a book about LeBalco James. There is no one he is an unaided 21 year old.

And yes, Barry Bones is laughing all the way to the bank. Nice call on Barroid, Wordcat. Becky and I laughed at that one a day later.

12:12 AM  
Blogger jon said...

Speaking of Lebron James, I'm a big fan, but his physical ability is weirding me out. Is he just a developmental freak or something? I'm going to be honest - if he was from a Carribean nation, I would be absolutely certain that he was 25. How can there be someone that big and that fast, who's that good at controlling his body, and still that young?

2:09 AM  
Blogger jon said...

wow - I read the wikipedia article on Ruth today, to get a feel for who he was. If you just concentrate on the bad:

1) He faked injuries to get out of pitching days.

2) He argued with his coaches and held out on a contract until his salary was doubled, forcing the red sox to trade him. He was described by his coach as "one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men ever to put on a baseball uniform." Once on the Yankees he was still suspended by the team multiple times for disrespecting team rules.

3) He was frequently suspended for arguing with umpires.

4) He drank almost constantly, even in the hours before games.

5) He drank alcohol for years while it was a substance banned by the federal government.

6) He cheated on his wife innumerable times. He also publically bragged about it.

7) He disrespected his wife until she was forced to live seperately from him. She was often ill and suffered nervous breakdowns as a result.

8) He failed to show up to games several times, choosing to stay out instead.

9) He cursed constantly.

10) While he sometimes signed autographs for hours, he was also often rude to fans.

11) He had health problems caused by alcohol and gluttony that often hurt his team.

12) He played absolutely horribly in his final season. He quit halfway though the season because of arguments with the team's owner.

13) His lifestyle led to an early death at the age of 53.

Now, you could come up with many good attributes of Babe Ruth too. But if you focus on the bad things, then his rap sheet is enormous. Once again, I'm making a point here. Why are character attacks okay on certain figures? Why is Bonds more deserving of attacks than Ruth or Kobe is? Barry Bonds is certainly one of the most hated stars in all of sports (up there with Tyson, Harding, and Owens), so why is it essential to keep piling up on him and questioning his spiritual state?

If this was just a steroid question, then Bonds would just be in the same boat as a huge number of football, olympic, and baseball stars (do you really believe that football is even close to clean?). It seems to be so much more than that - something to do with his enormous natural ability, or his offsetting personality, or the way the media feels about him. When the attacks are consistently this personal and attack his inner thoughts and his state of grace, I'm disturbed by it. I hope you see what I'm trying to get at.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Well, I'm gonna have to stay away from these baseball posts...if all of us could get this excited about world peace there would be no more war :^)
Thanks for the spirited feedback everybody.

12:49 PM  

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