Tar Heel Fan

Thursday, May 25, 2006

What if You Hit as Many Home Runs as Babe Ruth...

...and no one cared. Welcome to Barry Bonds world as the much anticipated equaling(but not yet surpassing of) Babe Ruth for second place on the all time home run list generated very little attention in the sports world or the world in general last weekend. Of course that still has not prevented ESPN from going to live look-ins of his at bats during Baseball Tonight but then again ESPN also finally put the Bonds reality show Bonds on Bonds to rest showing signs that the folks in Bristol might be developing a clue. In fact, based on my read of this weekend in the sport's world, I would venture to say that more people were concerned about Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's shattered leg than Bonds tying Babe Ruth for second place on the all time home run list. Is the lack of attention to Bonds surprising? It shouldn't be despite gallant attempts by ESPN and the media at large to make Bonds the story of the baseball season. For starters, the media market is simply oversaturated with Bonds to the point the fans are tuning him out. The steroid allegations have not helped and it might be a somewhat unspoken damnation of Bonds by the fans that they do not consider his 714 total to be legitimate. And I am not sure it has been mentioned here but the Bonds home run this past weekend only tied him for second place on the all time home run list. It is very hard for fans to get excited about milestones much less ones that are not really milestones at all. Tying and passing Ruth is a pseudo-milestone in the sense Ruth was such a gargantuan(literally and metaphorically) figure in baseball. It is a nuanced milestone which requires a significant appreciation if history which most fans do not have thanks to the "Instant History" mentality created by ESPN and the new media. The length of time between 713 and 714 also played a part as fans clearly were fed up with worrying about it. In all honesty I am glad the market i.e. the fans dictated the way Bonds is being treated by the media. Sometimes the best thing to do about someone you dislike in the public arena is deny them the attention they so brazenly crave or in the case of ESPN starve them of the ratings they are prostituting themselves for in an effort to fill their own coffers. I mentioned previously that the focus on Bonds passing Ruth was a flat out insult to Hank Aaron who actually holds the all time career home run mark. At this point I also think there is a great disservice being paid to St. Louis 1B Albert Puljos who is on track to hit 84 home runs. Undoubtedly that projection will come down but the failure to give Puljos, who appears to be clean on all accounts, his due is a travesty. The focus on Puljos will heat up if we get to late July and he is around 50 homers. In many ways the best poetic justice would be for Puljos, a soft spoken and classy player, to break Bonds mark and essentially erase that blight from the record books. That would a be a fitting footnote to Bonds' career.


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