It finally happened. Earlier in the week Barry Bonds hit number 756, and somehow life goes on. Since I waited a few days to react, there is probably nothing I can write that hasn’t been written. I don’t have any particular love for Barry Bonds. I find his public persona to be surly, arrogant, and not particularly likable. That said, there are a number of people who have spent time with him and said that he isn’t as bad a guy as he comes across. Either way it should be irrelevant. Despite his shortcomings, I have found him to be somewhat of a sympathetic character over the past few weeks.
Meanwhile, I was once again saddened to be reminded of who is in charge of the game I love. Bud Selig, the man who looked the other way for more than a decade while it became more and more apparent that there was a problem in the game, was presumably too busy counting the money he has made to be at the game in which the record home run was hit. Suddenly Mr. Selig is the moral authority on all things performance enhancing, and has declared through his actions and delicately chosen words that Bonds’ record is tainted. Selig, who is as much to blame as any player for the problem, has chosen to leave Barry Bonds hanging out to dry, and has taken several opportunities to point out how much he has done over the past few years to clean up the game. There has been no word from Bud about what he was doing during the mid-to-late 90′s.
The big question, of course, is if the record is tainted. While it is pretty safe to say that Bonds did use some form of performance enhancing drugs in his career, the extent of his use is unknown (as is the extent of the use of the pitchers he hit his home runs against). 756 is a lot of home runs, and if it was a simple as taking a PED to get there, Bonds would not be the only one.
When history remembers Barry Bonds and his home run record (which is likely to be broken in a few years by Alex Rodriguez, who, by the way, is not a true Yankee), it will be understood in the context of his era. Similar to some of the great pitchers of the dead ball era, Bonds put up the biggest number in a time of big numbers. Like it or not, Barry Bonds is baseball’s new home run king.
Meanwhile, the AAA team that stole the Twins’ uniforms and began to play in their place continues to struggle in the run-scoring department. There seem to be two distinct camps that Twins fans fall in these days:
1. The fault lies with Mauer, Cuddyer, Morneau, and Hunter. Call this the Barriero camp. These are the guys who are expected to perform, but have struggled with the team. Joe Mauer seems to be a particular target in this regard, though I did overhear a guy at the Metrodome claiming that Justin Morneau is the problem. Not that Morneau is struggling, mind you, but that he is the reason the Twins are losing.
2. The fault lies with team management, who have stocked the rest of the team with piranhas who seem to lack bite. It is Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire’s job to stock the team with hitting talent. Beyond the top four, the team is pretty thin in that department, and has done nothing to improve as it has become more and more apparent that there are some major holes in this lineup.
I tend to lean more towards the second camp. When a team loses to the Royals 1-0, however, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Born August 10, 1927
The Golden Greek pitched for Washington from 1955-1957. As a relief pitcher, he walked more than he struck out, but could handle a bat, hitting .271/.278/.333 lifetime.
Born August 10, 1923
Porterfield won 22 games for the Senators in 1953, but his best statistical season was 1952. Though he finished with a 13-14 record, his ERA was 2.72 and his ERA+ was 131, compared with 3.35 and 117 in his 22-win year.
Born August 10, 1916
John Kelly Lewis took over at second base for an injured Buddy Myer in 1935. Though Myer returned, Lewis was shifted to third base and continued to play with Myer, who took the 18-year-old under his wing. Myer eventually passed on his nickname to Lewis, who played mostly at third base for Washington until the war. After returning from the service, he finished his career in the outfield. Lewis was a very good player who lost some of his prime years to WWII.