Friday, May 19, 2006

Taking Back America One Pop-Up At A Time

Barry Bonds is both smart and malevolent. It figures his scheme for a PR makeover would involve fiendish torture for innocent sports fans.

Bonds' status as poster mutant for baseball's Steroid Era makes him unpopular. Then again, most Americans have a profoundly ambivalent attitude about those who break the rules to get ahead in life. When the Giants visited Philadelphia for a weekend series, Philly fans jeered Bonds as only they can. When Bonds hit career homer 713 about 22 miles into south Jersey, those same fans gave him a rousing ovation. Most of them took a picture of Bonds rounding the bases.

Bonds has remained stuck on 713 for going on two weeks. By now, all of the nation's fans are in his corner, rooting with all their hearts for Bonds to hit homers 714 and 715 in his next two at bats if not sooner.

Until that happens, the baseball community will be bombarded with news stories and columns about Bonds, broadcasts about Bonds, barroom arguments about him, and ESPN cut-ins to his every plate appearance. May's already the most cluttered month of the sports calendar. Bonds has crowded it past the breaking point. The longer he drags out the chase to pass the Babe, the more the tainted slugger forces the fans to confront an issue that makes the vast majority of them extremely uncomfortable. Nobody likes discomfort.

Worse yet, Bonds isn't exactly a boon companion for a long journey, even a psychic one. His LEAST annoying trait is self-pity. And there's no possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation between this player and his game's fan base. Bonds is an unrepentant megalomaniac who did what he did to salve a bruised ego. "You think Sosa's a star? I'll show you people what happens when a real star goes Big Pharma!"

In short, people would rather not think about Barry Bonds at all, but until he hits number 715, anyone who watches baseball is stuck with the churl. It's pain, not pleasure, that's making fans pull for Bonds to pull one into the seats every time he comes to the plate. The standing ovations he'll get for his next two homers will be expressions of relief, not admiration.

So for now, let's all shout "Go Barry!". It's the only way we can help make him go away.


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