Dear John to Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Canseco, Sheffield, Caminiti ...

I can't bring myself to read the full reports. I knew all along that there was circumstantial evidence. I knew for years that there were accusations and allegations. I knew, for as much as I personally dislike Sheffield, there was something in his stories a few months ago. I knew that my father was probably right. Up until the last week I was able to put up barriers. I wanted to believe in him.

Unlike Aho and Brooks, I am not a Minnesota native. I didn't see the great World Series in '87 or '91. I grew up in the Bay Area, about equidistant from San Francisco and Oakland. My greatest memories are of the Bay Bridge Series, the earthquake, and the Bash Brothers. Now the first thing that comes to mind when I think of McGwire is Creatine. When I think of the madcap race he and Sosa had to 61, all I can think of is a shattered bat on a grey day at Wrigley and x-rays of Hall of Fame memorabilia. Bonds is not the first hero to fall from grace. We forgave McGwire. We forgave Sosa. But Barry may be a different story. I'm not interested, however, in speculation as to when and how fully we may or may not forgive Barry. I'm not that rational right now. I'm still thinking about his homeruns, his elbows hanging over the inside edge of the plate, the electric feeling when he came into the on deck circle. I'm still thinking about the road trip I took to Chicago just so I could see the Giants play a game, about standing the whole game because the only tickets left were standing room, and that the morning after I went to the game he hit a ball in batting practice that broke a window in a building across the street. I'm thinking about all the nights and days I went to the park to see him. But I don't know what to think of it anymore. It feels like a relationship, when someone says they've been cheating on you. All these memories you have suddenly feel out of place. You don't know what to do with them anymore.

In Aho's entry, he suggested that Bonds' fault was greater than Rose's. I disagree. Bonds may have dirtied the game, but he did so the same way that Sosa, McGwire, Canseco, and however many spitball pitchers ever existed. He did so trying to be better, stronger, faster. He erred but it was for the game. Rose bet on the game while managing. I see no worse act on could take on the game. Nothing is more dishonorable, nothing leaves a more indelible mark. Bonds tried to give himself an edge, albeit an ilicit one. Rose used the game explicitly for his own financial gain. He did not show respect to the competition. His bets led the bets of thousands of bookees and gamblers, all convinced that Rose knew something they didn't. What Rose did says more than "I'm going to win this game anyway I can, even if I cheat." What Rose did says, "I care more about making money from betting on games than winning the games themselves." I guess what I'm saying is I'd let Bonds babysit, but not Rose.

Only one act in the history of baseball was worse than what Rose did. Only the Black Socks are deeper in baseball hell than Rose. The rest of these players, I believe, are bound for purgatory. They need time to reflect on their folly, to see where they went wrong, even as they pursued what they believed was good.

To return to my earlier analogy, I think at this point in my relationship with Barry, there's only one thing left to say; It was good while it lasted.

1 comment :

Evan Brunell said...

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