Saturday, August 11, 2007

Barry Bonds: new Home Run Career Record Holder

Surprisingly, the nation seems to be indifferent as to Bonds breaking the record. This should be the response, as if say, LaDanian broke the career rushing record, I have to say that my reaction would be one of indifference. I don't like him, but I don't hate him, and he doesn't play for my team, so I acknowledge that what he is a great accomplishment, but I'm neither happier or sadder because of it. I feel the same way toward Barry Bonds. I don't like him, but I don't dislike him, and I think it's impressive that he broke the record.
Is this record tainted in any way? Maybe a little, but I don't really think so that much. First off, although Barry Bonds probably did take steroids, it is not proven. Sure the chance that he did is probably 99.9% or more, but their is always the chance that he decided to lift a lot and take a lot of legal supplements to get bigger. Even if he did take steroids, why is it that steroids are illegal and other supplements are not? What is considered natural? A few years ago, Andro, the stuff that McGwire took, was considered legal, but then was banned years later, same with Creatine. Also to take into consideration, is that it's not like he took steroids and got bigger from nothing, steroids increases endurance and lessens muscle fatigue during workouts, so Barry worked out for about 6 hours a day while on his supplements. If you want to criticize him, you have to at least acknowledge and admire his work ethic and determination. A few years ago, Jim Thome was praised for not lifting and not taking steroids, and that his physique was all country boy, just naturally big. I don't know why he gets praised for being lazy. Sure, he didn't take steroids, great, but not lifting is just dumb in this day and age. It's proven to give you more power, and a power hitter should lift. Which brings about another point of "the natural athlete". What is natural? If you want an all natural athlete, than where does the natural part end, and the unnatural part begin? Should we ban athletes from lifting, and only allow the to do situps, pushups, and pullups? The line is hard to tell on what's natural and what's not. After all, some athletes have a VO2 Max so high or increase muscle mass so easily that their levels could be called unnatural. So if someone who's on the low end of athletic ability and take something to make them above average but not illegally it's seen as a kid wanting to be great, but if someone who's already great takes these things, it's seen as rule-breaking, and a shame to the game. Should we not allow contacts or inhalers either?
Another problem with the steroids argument is that there are many forms of "cheating" that don't get noticed or aren't considered cheating. An article was recently written about Bonds' elbow armor ( So while this article may exaggerate how may hr's his elbow pad added to Bonds' career, but its just another example of how cheating is a blurred line, and how some advantages are for some reason allowed, and others are labeled cheating.
Also of note is that Baseball has had a problem with cheating for a while. Recently ESPN had a poll on cheating, and people felt that cheating was at an all-time high, and it was noted that because the monetary rewards were so high, that the incentives were so high, that someone had to cheat. This is a good point, but I don't think that cheating is at an all time high. Now there is more security, more drug tests, and more importantly, more technology. Before, people could cheat by doctoring balls, doctoring bats, changing the field, stealing signs, changing hoop heights, having bad floors, paying off refs, etc. So to say cheating is at an all time high is just an uneducated thing to say that the media would love for you to believe because it gives them a story.
Lastly I would like to blame Bud Selig and MLB for the "steroids era". The no testing policy was what caused steroids to be prevalent in the league, and the reason MLB didn't fight for testing was that it was helpful to both sides of the argument. A lot of players didn't want it because they either wanted to use illegal supplements, and MLB didn't mind because it brought increased revenue and a bigger fan base. So this situation essentially brought up a prisoners dilemma. If a player uses, and all other players don't, they benefit big time because they put up better numbers (see Giambi or possibly Matthews Jr.). If they don't use and no one uses, the situation is the same, and if they use and everyone uses no one benefits really because everyone's game has been (theoretically) risen the same amount, but everyone faces the risk that is presented from steroid use (though this risk has never been clearly defined or proven). So if a player looks around and sees that no one is using steroids, and that if he uses steroids he can double his salary, what is he going to do? He's going to use steroids because there is no testing, the only thing holding him back is his fear of steroids, his laziness to lift, his own negative opinions on using steroids, and his fear of public shame holding him back. For most players, they were scared enough of steroids long term effects, felt like they were cheating, or were scared if they got caught, and never used. But many players didn't care, and and the incentive to "cheat" was too great in terms of pay checks. Look at Sammy Sosa. He has over 600 career home runs. It can be argued that steroids turned him from a 35 hr player to a 60 hr player, and the difference is the difference between 10 million dollars and 20 million dollars per year. For Bonds, the decision to "cheat" clearly wasn't for money, and it's clear that he doesn't care if other people don't like him. His turning point was the whole Mark McGwire Sammy Sosa debacle, and the reason he was upset was that he was one of the greatest players to ever play the game, yet he didn't get recognized for it. This in and of itself is actually quite respectable because most people can relate to not getting enough credit for their performance.
So, before you condemn Barry Bonds, remember that with or without steroids, he is probably the greatest player of all time. He has 7 gold gloves, and while they were all in LF, more than 5 gold gloves mean that you are a great fielder, even if gold gloves are not a great defensive metric(see Derek Jeter or Raphael Palmeiro). He has over 500 career stolen bases, and was a great baserunner as well. He has the most home runs ever, and if he wasn't so good at hitting home runs from 1999 on, then he would probably have ended up with well over 500, if not 600. Lastly, he's underrated because while his average wasn't all that great some seasons, his on base percentage percentage was always good; he never had an obp under .400 after the age of 25 while playing more than 102 games. For this he has two things that Ruth didn't have, defense and baserunning, though Ruth did pitch like Cy Young. So love him or hate him, at least respect his game and his hard work, because he's one of the greatest players ever, and whatever faults he has, are not his faults alone.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Adam Jones finally called up

Adam Jones was finally called up, finally appeasing Mariners fans. USSMariner has already showed that Adam Jones in the field will already make HoRam into Johan Santana (granted this improvement will be spread out over all the pitchers, so stats will just be a bit better for everyone), but last night he hit 2 singles, and scored 2 runs. This is more impressive than it sounds, because in his 2nd AB, he had a 10 pitch or so at bat, which is good because it means he's not that easy to strike out, and he tired Lester out. In his 3rd AB, he beat out a bad throw, showing his athleticism and smarts.
It remains to be seen how much Jones will be played, but if he continues to play this well, veterans won't get upset, because they want to win. As it is, the Mariners can smell the fear from the Angels, and they should be fearful, the M's should make it an exciting race for the rest of the season.