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BARRY: JUST DO IT.

Byline: STEVE DILBECK

It's a simple request, and not nearly as painful a one as might be imagined:

Barry, please hit another home run.

Drop one into McCovey Cove tonight. Bounce one off that overblown Coke bottle.

Send it to Oakland or Jupiter or anywhere else, just do it.

Get it over with. Be done with it.

And then disappear into the night. Go away. Leave us alone.

This chasing of Babe Ruth by Barry ``Puffy'' Bonds has been the most painful, prolonged and unsavory pursuit in baseball history.

Baseball followers have been resigned to this happening since Barry showed up in spring training in something approximating health, six home runs shy of the Babe.

Getting to 714, however, proved almost as difficult as the taking of Stalingrad.

ESPN, in its sleazy arrangement with Barry, continually provided breathless updates. Even beloved Vin Scully could barely broadcast a Dodgers game without giving simultaneous play-by-play of whatever was happening with Barry and the Giants.

Note to broadcasters everywhere: We don't care.

Ninety-nine percent of the baseball world believes Barry to be a cheat and a liar and a fraud, that the fact he has never tested positive for steroids to be nothing more than testament to modern chemistry.

He has marched toward the Babe while baseball has turned the other way, feeling obligated to agonizingly acknowledge but not celebrate this achievement.

When he finally caught Babe at 714, the biggest story of the day was that a horse most people had never heard of until two weeks earlier, had broken his leg.

One more home run, and he's passed Babe for second on the all-time home run list.

Please, please, do it tonight and be done with it.

Do it in front of your hometown fans, who proving that Haight-Ashbury's influence was larger in the Bay Area that ever suspected, who clearly have no trouble with drugs and will provide a nice ovation.

Take the cap off that swollen orb, tip it to the fans, mutter some respectful words about Ruth we all know to be insincere, and then vanish from our sight.

Go get old and worry about Major League Baseball steroid's investigation.

Go blame the media, go off and play the teary-eyed victim, proclaim how ``you finally won,'' just go away.

We are all Barry-ed out. Tried of him and his attitude and his sham home-run total.

At one point it also seemed inevitable Barry would continue and surpass Hank Aaron's 755 total for No.1 on the all-time list, but age or injury or lack of juice has conspired against him.

Barry will turn 42 in a couple of months and his days of playing Superman in stirrups seem finally past.

Hopefully he will call it a career after this season, sparring us all another excruciating pursuit.

Ruth remains the greatest player in baseball history, and there shouldn't even be an argument heard on behalf of Willie Mays or Aaron or Bonds or anyone else.

Ruth came up as a pitcher, and a good one. He won over 20 games twice. His 1.75 ERA led the American League in 1917. He pitched a 14-inning, complete-game shutout in the 1916 World Series.

His first six seasons were spent as a pitcher - and then he went onto to become the best everyday hitter baseball has ever seen.

Bonds would have joined Ruth in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot if he'd stayed clean. Now the suspicion is, he won't make it at all. He'll never get this vote. And neither will Mark McGwire.

That's what happens when you cheat. You're out. Real simple.

To those who moan he's never tested positive, open your eyes. Small moons orbit his head. Voting for the Hall of Fame isn't a court of law, it's about an opinion.

And any right-thinking observer who takes in his swollen physique and recognizes he hit over 42 home runs only once the first 14 years of his career, can come to only one logical conclusion.

Those who cry ``It wasn't against baseball's rules until 2003'' need recognize two things: 1) actually it was (baseball adopted a unilateral anti-drug policy in 1992 that included steroids, but was unenforceable because it was never agreed upon by the union; and 2) the book ``Game of Shadows'' documents he was using steroids as early as 1998.

Those who cry the anti-Barry reaction is racist embarrass themselves. The all-time record is held by a black man. The two most popular athletes of our time, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, are black.

Those misguided, backbone-less, myopic dolts who try to dismiss his steroid use by saying, ``Well, plenty of others were doing it,'' miss the point so badly it's staggering. Would they tell their child it's OK they cheated on a test because others did?

Cheat and you pay the sporting piper. Reach a new level when everyone finally understands the playing field, and there will be no celebration just resignation.

So please, just get it over with.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2) Barry Bonds watchers, left, as well as the San Francisco Giants' star himself, right, wait for the home-run number to change on the right-field wall at AT&T Park.

Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 26, 2006
Words:875
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