Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bonds and the Home Run Derby

I'm getting sick and tired about all the crying over Barry not competing in that competition. He is doing what he has always done: protect the fans who follow his every move. This is equivalent to him not always going all out, whether running out a ground out or going for the spectacularly dangerous plays in the outfield - he has always tried to watch out for his health because he realized that one particular play may or may not matter in the game, but him playing the rest of the season does.

How is this so? One, if he competes, he's not resting, he's working hard to hit homers, over several hours. That weakens him for the regular season which will start a few days from now, on Friday. As he has noted, he's 42 years old, he has to conserve his energy for the regularl season.

Two, if he competes, he has to change his stroke to try to launch homers. A number of players have talked about how doing that changes their stroke subtlely, but surely, making it hard for them to hit well once the regular season start. Wouldn't that be great if he suddenly couldn't hit homers for a long way, while he gets his stroke back, we went through an long homerless streak in May when he lost his stroke back then.

Three, this is just an exhibition, there is nothing to gain from him competing in it other than making a few fans happy, fans who don't really care to see him hit homers in the regular season, fans who don't really care about the Giants then. Even if the season sucks, I want the team battling to the bitter end, because you never do know, you can battle back from the abyss that they are in, but you can't if your best hitter is affected in any way because of a meaningless exhibition.

The exception, I believe, is the All-Star Game itself. Yes, it is an exhibition. And yes, Sir Seilig has made it "meaningful" by having the winning league win home advantage, but that's just an artifice. The game itself is for the fans and Bonds was voted in, so he does owe it to the fans to show up for that and play. That is the history of this game and he understands the significance to him fulfilling his obligation for that and playing, plus, really, it adds to your historical value as a player as well, he understands things like this matter later, after your career is over. Plus, it is SF, his hometown, his team growing up.

Four, it seems to me that the fans complaining most about it have something to gain. One I heard on KNBR complained bitterly about it, then casually noted that he was kayaking during the exhibition so he would benefit if Bonds hits one to him. And I'm sure the fans holding tickets for that who wanted to sell them were hoping he would play in it and drive the price up that much.

Five, who gives a flying fig about the homerun contest? I certainly don't. Maybe after it has built up a tradition, but really, who really cares right now? I care about the All-Star game, I like getting bragging rights, the NL used to dominate the AL when I was growing up, and I am not happy that the AL now dominates, though there seems to be a cycle to that. The homerun contest is more about how lucky you are in the pitcher you get, whether he can throw meaty strikes or he is just wild and you cannot do anything with them. The All-Star game itself is a competition.

Now, if it was Roger Clemens throwing pitches to Barry Bonds in a homerun contest, I think that would be interesting, 12 pitches, mano-a-mano, and of course Clemens is trying to strike him out. Competition like that would be interesting (not as interesting after interleague play but still interesting). But that's never going to happen.

So I'm glad Barry still thinks about what really matters, the regular season, him playing his best, which means him playing at his healthiest. Some critics say that this is not fan friendly, but it is only not friendly to baseball fans who are watching the All-Star festivities - it is very friendly to the fans that mean the most to him: his fans and fans of the San Francisco Giants.

2 comments:

  1. In addition to those who would benefit financially from Barry being in the HR derby, many of the critics who claim its so terrible that Bonds isn't in the home run derby have said: (1) he's evil and it disgusts him to watch him play, (2) his achevements should be ignored, or (3) they wish someone would throw at his head or he'd otherwise become disabled. Really can't have it both ways jerks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great comment, as usual. It's particularly spot on, given how vital Bonds is to the rest of what passes for the Giants' offense.

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