Broken Down Bonds
There is the intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs. There is the intrigue of the NBA playoffs, with the possibility now looming large that a tiring Steve Nash will go head-to-head against the team that didn't want him, the Dallas Mavericks, just before he went and won back-to-back MVP awards for the Phoenix Suns.
There is, for fans of other things, the upcoming French Open in which one of the great rivalries in international sport, Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, may well be played out again in the final.
Then there is baseball and Barry Bonds.
Everybody's keeping at least one eye on this thing, but from here, this has ceased to be either exciting or enraging, and Bonds has ceased to be either controversial or notorious.
The whole mess is just, well, pathetic. Not even very athletic, really.
With all the interesting stuff happening in baseball, the focus is on a broken-down slugger making $18 million a year for a not-very-good team. Bonds is in a "slump," although he went 2-4 with an RBI and three runs scored on Tuesday night, the slump being the 26 at-bats he has now gone without hitting a home run to tie Babe Ruth for second on baseball's all-time list.
At a time when Ryan Smyth is losing teeth but still playing for the Edmonton Oilers and Nash is laying it all on the line for the Suns, there is no guts 'n glory team thing going on for Bonds and the San Francisco Giants. Compared to the spectacular, five-hour Mother's Day slugfest between Nadal and Federer, this Bonds story seems like a man competing against only himself.
It's been that way for a while, of course. The manager, Felipe Alou, no longer makes even the pretence that he is making decisions with respect to Bonds that might be in the best interests of the teams. He comments thats Bonds' bat looks slow, Bonds himself says he's exhausted, but then its just up to Bonds whether he plays or not.
I mean, the man can barely trot, let alone run. The ravages of years in the game, and quite probably the ravages of his unique training regimen, have hobbled Bonds, just as they did to the game's previous man of muscle, Mark McGwire.
Even worse, when Bonds was plunked Tuesday night by Russ Springer of the Astros, the temptation was to almost feel sorry for the creaking slugger as he dragged himself down to first base and Springer was tossed out of the one-sided game.
This is no pursuit of glory. It's a sorry, unhappy, mean-spirited spectacle that will, even when Bonds hits No. 714 and then No. 715, bring little joy to anyone, let alone baseball fans.
The best that could happen now is that he breaks the record this weekend across The Bay in Oakland as a designated hitter, and then the story can just go away until the time comes that he takes a run at Hammerin' Hank.