Saturday, July 28, 2007

One More Swing Of The Bat

In a country where a person is supposedly innocent until proven guilty, (Wow, don’t let Michael Vick in on that little secret) it really does amaze me that one baseball player can cause so much controversy with what he has allegedly done. I say allegedly because well I am a firm believer in due process, (you know that little right we all have according to the Constitution) and well we have no proof…yet. Whether you like him, hate him, or don’t care, you have probably heard something about Barry Bonds and steroids and more than likely have formed an opinion.

As the media follows his every move, Bonds has refused to talk about the issue. Now some say that is because he is guilty and has nothing to say in his defense, but others might just say that Bonds hasn’t done anything wrong and is rightly dismissing the issue and dealing with what he does best – playing baseball.

When Major League Baseball made the decision to start testing for performance enhancing drugs it appeared a lot of the players seemed to magically get smaller. It’s no secret that many had gotten mysteriously thin. Now I am not naive, even my favorite Detroit Tiger, Pudge Rodriguez, went through a dramatic change physically. But well Bonds, he’s pretty much kept his physique. Why hasn’t he slimmed down?(Hell the man’s shoe size has increased a couple of sizes and supposedly his head has swelled so much he has had to go up two sizes on his cap… well maybe that’s just a side effect of his ego…sorry got sidetracked there for a second) Hummm....Well there could be two answers to that question, either he is still using steroids or some other undetectable drug, or Bonds really only used the “cream” and the “clear” briefly and then discarded them, or his bulk is the by product of well, a serious weight training program.

I keep hearing the same argument from some people that shout at the top of their lungs that steroids don’t help you hit homeruns. However, for major league hitters, especially hitters like Bonds who undeniably have “the gift” of reading pitches and the power to swing a bat, steroids could add 50 to 100 extra feet of ball flight. Take the average 30 homerun hitter, and add 50 to 100 feet onto every one of his hits, how many pop-flies and long-liners now turn into homeruns? Probably another twenty is my guess.

The fact is there are a lot of other variables to consider. My Dad brought up this point this past weekend when we were discussing just this subject. There are many things to consider when you look at the race for the record and well if anyone deserves it. Major League Baseball has added teams and inter-league games therefore introducing competition that Aaron would not have faced in a regular season, created SMALLER ballparks, lowered the mound and reduced the strike zone, just to mention a few.

So are these unfair advantages or disadvantages for today’s players? You could also argue that Aaron had advantages that Ruth never had, I don’t think you can really escape that argument.

But there is one thing that I know neither Ruth nor Aaron had, and that is the ability to take a performance enhancing drug. And the one thing they will always have over Bonds? That NO ONE will ever look at them and wonder if they deserved the records they earned.

"...when one great scorer goes to write against your name, he asks not if you won or lost, but how you played the game." ~ unknown