Monday, April 03, 2006

Cincinnati, Red as All Get Out, Loves Them Some Bush. Also, Barry "The Incredible Bulk" Bonds, Should Get Out of the Game

Today was the opening day of a new season of Major League Baseball. And you know what that means: the Commander-in-Chief gets to throw out yet another ceremonial first pitch. Bush got a standing ovation in Cincinatti, Ohio when he came out to the mound to do just that in the Reds' home ballpark today. A standing ovation. Nationally, this dude's got 36% approval, which means if Bush were magically able to throw out a first pitch in that mythical place called Anytown, USA, only about a third of the people would have clapped. But in Cincinatti, he gets a standing O from about everybody. You know, you hear stories about how red Cincinatti is, but it takes something like this to really drive home the point: these people are conservaTIVE. (Sorry, Shawn -- I feel for you. Though I'm sure, if Bush were to take the mound at Turner Field here in Atlanta, he'd get a standing ovation, too. If you're white and hail from a southern state in this country, percentage-wise anyway, it's a likely thing you're a Bush-supporter.) But, even still, it looks like Bush and his handlers, even in Cincinatti, were worried about a tepid response from the opening day crowd, so, accompanying him out onto the field, were "two injured soldiers and a father who lost his son in Afghanistan." Try and boo that, Cincinatti. I dare you. Sometimes I think Bush is more afraid of being embarrassed than I am, which is saying something.

Anyway, the other part of the MSNBC story concerns fans' first reaction to Barry Bonds coming to the plate in the regular season since a new book detailing his steroid use came out (the Giants' season opener was down in San Diego). He got himself some boos from the crowd, and deservedly so. One fan even threw a syringe out onto the field. Fantastic. The aforementioned book, entitled Game of Shadows, was written by two San Francisco Chronicle sportswriters, and it apparently lays out in exacting detail years of steroid abuse by Barry Bonds (as well as Jason Giambi) at a place called Balco. Last week, Bud Selig, the Commisioner of Baseball, hired former Senator George Mitchell to run an investigation into the allegations made in the book.

I know some of this urgency on the part of the MLB stems from the fact that Bonds is only 6 or 7 home-runs away from breaking Babe Ruth's record. That'll be a big black eye on baseball if The Incredible Bulk breaks it, and Selig is, I think, trying to keep it from happening. But how sweeping is this supposed house-cleaning going to be? Are they just working to get Bonds out of the game and then relax? Are they going to get his record straightened out? My main question is this: what about Mark Maguire and Sammy Sosa?

They were obvious steroid users, too. Sammy Sosa took the "no ingles" defense when he testified before Congress, using a translator to deliver his non-answers, and Maguire did little better by answering Senator's questions about his own steroid use with, "I'm not here to talk about the past." Which is basically like pleading the 5th without actually using those words. So Maguire and Sosa get to keep their crazy, steroid and HGH-fueled homerun tallies but Bonds is likely to get run out of the sport altogether? I'm not saying Bonds doesn't deserve it, but why is it that Maguire gets to escape a similar fate?

Is it because neither St. Louis nor Chicago have super reporters that can spend 15-months on the trail of their pharmaceutical misdeeds like Bonds had? Or, in Maguire's case, is it because he's retired from the sport and not a threat to sacred cows like Ruth, and later on Aaron? I think part of the reason storm clouds are swirling over Bonds's head right now is because nobody likes the guy. He's been a miserable sonofabitch to any fan brave enough to give him an opportunity, he's surly with reporters of all stripes, distant and uncommunicative with his teammates, and now he's trying to beat the Holiest of All Holy Records by cheating with steroids. Could part of the reason Maguire and Sosa are, in all liklihood, going to escape the wrath of Major League Baseball be because they're nicer guys?

The punishment that's almost assuredly coming to Bonds won't be MLB's attempt to scapegoat a single player for the sins of the entire sport; it'll be more like karmic retribution. Maybe years of being a sonofabitch are about to come back and bite him in the ass. But putting Bonds aside for a moment, if Selig and Major League Baseball were really serious about wiping the slate clean after the Steroid Era, were really serious about setting the official record straight, they'd investigate the nice guys who cheated, too. The cheating nice guys being Maguire and Sosa (among others). They're just as famous as Bonds, their records are just as tarnished. If it's possible, I hope the investigation Mitchell is leading can pinpoint the time these guys started using and either asterick the hell out of every stat after that, or erase them entirely. In short, yeah, get Bonds out, but be serious and get the other guys, too.

Also, great news: Tom DeLay's not running for re-election. I guess fighting all those felony charges is going to take more time than he expected. Darn. All right, I'm out.


Nathan said...

Fuck that. I think athletes should be able to use whatever performance enhancing drugs they want. Who gives a fuck? It's still their bodies doing whatever miraculous feats their performing. It's still "real". And it's more exciting to watch. Plus the stories of their livers exploding or catching a helluva bout of brain cancer make fantastic after-school specials. Who cares if it's "fair". Is it FAIR that some people are born bigger/stronger/faster/more cordinated? No. At least some good ol' steroids even the odds a bit. And even if they didn't, they at least make these superheroes live shorter lives...which makes the rest of us feel like life is just a bit more fair.

I think Bonds should be elected president of Major League Baseball

harwell said...

I disagree with Hinesy, but would support an all-steriods baseball league. You could have fun with it and make it a bit like BASEketball, at least until someone got killed. And rest assured, someone would get killed...

Also, you got it right in the title, but double check your spelling of Cincinnati throughout the article. That third N is very important. Very important.

The best thing about Bush being in town is that you can work ten blocks over from the stadium and not even know he's there. The only indication I had yesterday that anything was different was the plane I could see from my window, doing circles around town carrying a banner that advertised for some strip club in Kentucky called Deja Vu. I don't really think the average joe gave a shit that Bush was in town. That ovation was probably more about the crazy knuckleheads who are excited that the season is under way, and "this could be the year."

And then the Reds got beat 16 to 7. Apparently Bush is a better pitcher than the guys the Reds pay.

But he still sucks. I wouldn't have stood up.

harwell said...

Check this out:

DeLay said the Democrat Party has no agenda, no solutions -- "all they've got is the strategy of personal destruction and character assassination; and it hasn't worked in the past, it's not going to work in the future. They are a permanent minority party."

Isn't that a hoot? It's like they have selective Clinton impeachment amnesia. I love it. Except for that last line. That one kind of stings a little.

blankfist said...

If you were in the stands, Crane, and everyone around you was rising to their feet, would you abandon your political convictions and join in? Or would you decide to remain seated? Just curious how you'd react, knowing that you'd be the only one sitting in the stands.

It's been over a week without a single bloop. How's that been treating you, Crane?

Also, 'homeruns' is spelled without the hyphen.

blankfist said...


JudgeHolden said...

It's been treating me great, Heath. Jesus. As for standing up when Bush came out onto the field, I don't know. I might try and split the difference and stand out of respect for the office, and not clap in protest of the man in the office.