Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

How I Fell In Love With Barry Bonds

Rick Kaplan
Staff Writer
OAKLAND (April 6) – Once upon a time, even before the performance enhancement era, I was annoyed with the swagger too. His ego was so big he needed two lockers. And there was that disappearing act with the Pirates in the post-season in the early nineties.
It didn’t matter that he was already a great player before the whispering started. It was as if the four (4) MVP awards he had already garnered– and the rest of his Hall of Fame, Five Tool calibre accomplishments–that came BEFORE he not-so-mysteriously doubled in size had never happened.
I didn’t care. I just didn’t like him.

So, when the allegations began, I was already on board. He was "a cheater", a "bad guy," a haughty and selfish "loner." His indifference and defiance just confirmed our suspicions and indignation.
But then I began to notice the company I was keeping. The Giambi excusers, the Clemens overlookers (He only got MORE dominant after he was 38 years old), the four consecutive federal prosecutors for Northern California (who have devoted their professional lives, unsuccessfully, to "getting" a baseball player, three of whom have been fired for not doing so), the assorted law breakers and tax cheaters and wife beaters, the drug sellers and Tommy John doctors and innumerable other performance enhancers who pontificate about Barry "hurting the game" in the bars and corporate backrooms and sports columns across our fine land.
There is no such thing as "fairness" or purity in sports. "Cheating" has always been part of winning and has always been employed to its fullest and enthusiastically embraced by the owners, the players, and the fans, especially if it helped their side (or their pocketbook).

The original Yankees in 1903 were owned by tow of the biggest and most brazen gamblers and crooks in New York City history. The 1919 Black Sox were notable for getting caught, not for cheating. Sandy Koufax used illegal and highly dangerous veterinary pain killers to pitch the Dodgers to victory in the 1965 World Series.

Look at your own life and get over it. We’ve all got huge closets.
The truth is that Barry Bonds’ father was one of the greatest "natural" talents to ever step on a baseball field. So, if we really cared about "level playing fields" and performance-enhancement, we could have–and should have–sanctimoniously barred Barry and half of today’s players, themselves descendants of big leaguers, for being "genetically enhanced."
Instead, however, genetic material is being gathered feverishly by biotech companies at this moment in stem cell banks across the land in order prepare for the next round of performance enhancement.
Custom-made, DNA designed ACLs and rotator cuffs will be in bio-sports catalogues in no time, mark my words.
We were never really interested in "fairness" and "the sanctity of the game" in Bonds’ case. It was all about the witch hunt, the scapegoating, pointing the finger to serve one’s agenda, and CYA.
If I was up against all that, the hypocrisy and the cultural muscle and racist venom of an entire country, I think I would be defiant and swagger a bit too, just to piss them all off.
Keep it up, Barry.

Left Side of Infield Hurting Oakland

My Back hurts. It’s hard to do normally routine stuff, such as just sitting here tapping on a laptop, much less try to lay off of a split-finger fastball in the dirt.
So, maybe I know how Bobby Crosby feels.
But somebody has to say something about the A’s infield.
Mark Ellis is superb again patrolling second base, while he puts up Jeff Kent-like numbers at bat to open the season. Swisher looks like Vic Power at first.
But it’s not the right side that worries me.
Am I the only one who feels better with Marco Scutaro at short?
Maybe less range than Crosby, and not as strong an arm. But more solid fundamentally, and a better hitter. And he’s healthy.
Some day Crosby might have that MVP season that so many experts were expecting before the 2006 campaign. Especially if he can stay inside the ball and consistently take outside ptiches to right field.
But right now Scutaro is a more productive player.
To wit, Crosby loses the first two games in Seattle. His misplays (one was ruled a hit) in each game were pivotal. Meanwhile, Scutaro–replacing Crosby–makes all the plays cleanly and hits the ball hard in key late inning at-bats in each of the first two games against the Angels (Although, sadly, both shots were fielded for outs).
In the opener against the Mariners, Dan Haren continues to dominate the Mariners if Crosby catches a perfect throw from the A’s starter and completes the inning ending DP.
Instead, Crosby clanks it and Richie Sexon unloads a three run bomb that finishes the A’s and Haren.
His error in game two helps Seattle re-take the lead.
Thursday night in Anaheim, Howie Kendrick’s hard bouncer leading off the home seventh ate up Eric Chavez. A hit in the box score, it looked an awful lot like a misplay on TV.
Kendrick then came around to score the tying run.
It’s heresy to say such things in Oakland, but, after a remarkable regular season in the field, Chavez’ implausibly terrible defense really hurt the A’s in their ACLS collapse against the Tigers last fall.
Tell the truth. Have you ever wondered where the Athletics would be had they spent their six-years-of-Chavez bucks on Miguel Tejada instead?
I don’t know why, but Chavez looks cold right now at the hot corner.
I must say, however, that Chavez looks more like himself at the plate than he did for most of his last injury-riddled 2006. It would be ironic, after the talk last season of how he made up for his lack of hitting with his game-saving D, if he contributed with the bat in 2007, despite his apparent continuing slump in the field.


1 Anonymous { 04.08.07 at 12:42 pm }

Rick, I agree with you about Crosby.  If he wasn’t a Beane favorite, he would have been shipped out or demoted by now.  I think you’re being too hard on Chavez, though.  That ball he missed the other night took a wicked, hard hop.   It would have been another amazing play by him if he fields it.  I wouldn’t worry about his defense.  I expect another gold glove season.  Offensively, I think he looks better than he has in a long time.  Even fouling off tough pitches and driving the mistakes when down in the count (why does he seem to be always down in the count?).  Hopefully, this is his first all star year.  Oh, and it goes without saying that I agree with you about Bonds.  The steroid controversy is a joke.  I hope Bonds keeps being an a-hole to the media.  Too bad the media isn’t as harsh on Bush.

2 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

3 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:50 pm }

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