Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bionic Baseball

He broke the record. Hip hip hooray.

PSAYINGS.5S.1-8. 756. That's a lot of homeruns. Bud Selig should have been there. But he wasn't:

Barry Bonds hit No. 756 to the deepest part of the ballpark Tuesday night, and hammered home the point: Like him or not, legitimate or not, he is baseball's new home run king.

Bonds broke Hank Aaron's storied record in the fifth inning, hitting a 3-2 pitch from Washington's Mike Bacsik 435 feet to right-center field. Three days earlier, Bonds tied the Hammer with a shot to left-center in San Diego.

"Thank you very much. I got to thank all of you, all the fans here in San Francisco. It's been fantastic," he said shortly after crossing home plate, his godfather, Willie Mays, at his side.

Conspicuous by their absence were the commissioner and Aaron himself.

Though he was on hand for the tying homer, deciding to put baseball history ahead of the steroid allegations that have plagued the Giants slugger, Bud Selig wasn't there for the record-breaker.

Steroid allegations? Who knew? I thought the reason Bonds was suspect had to do with his elbow protector.

 ...Barry Bonds is guilty of the use of something that confers extraordinarily unfair mechanical advantage: the “armor” that he wears on his right elbow. Amid the press frenzy over Bonds’ unnatural bulk, the true role of the object on his right arm has simply gone unnoticed.

This is unfortunate, because by my estimate, Bonds’ front arm “armor” may have contributed no fewer than 75 to 100 home runs to his already steroid-questionable total...

For years, sportswriters remarked that his massive "protective" gear – unequaled in all of baseball -- permits Bonds to lean over the plate without fear of being hit by a pitch. Thus situated, Bonds can handle the outside pitch (where most pitchers live) unusually well. This is unfair advantage enough, but no longer controversial. However, it is only one of at least seven (largely unexplored) advantages conferred by the apparatus...

Anyway.. The commissioner should have been there to congratulate the first player to have taken baseball beyond ordinary human limitations. But he had a good reason for being absent. He was attending field trials for a new kind of pitcher's glove being developed in Japan. In this era of arms so fragile that managers who used to make tactical decisions during games now spend their time counting pitches, the new glove could be a career saver. Not only does it protect pitchers from damaging their arms, it also seems to enable otherwise ordinary hurlers to throw 140 mph fastballs. Without steroids.

Improved pitching. Drug free.

It's poignant in a way. Barry Bonds is probably the last baseball player who's going to hit more than 700 homeruns. The commish is going to see to that. On the whole, it's a good thing. The national pastime has to get past its current obsession with drugs. And everybody likes to see a no-hitter. Don't they? Sure they do, Bud.

Barry's happy too. 756. It's a record he'll enjoy for a long time to come.

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