Like Barry Bonds, Baseball Widow hasn't retired; she's just not playing.
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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Baseball Hubby Comes Clean Too

Since Baseball Widow has copped to being a law student, I have a confession to share myself: I like Barry Bonds. Now, this is significant because I don’t as a rule like a player unless he’s got a Tomahawk across his chest. I’m not sure why (besides the obvious reasons) I’ve recently become so fond of him, especially because so many other people seem put off by him (despite the obvious reasons).

Of course, my infatuation with Mr. Home Run Machine is complicated by his alleged drug problem, but there’s something else that troubles my newfound fondness for him. It seems to me (and I could be wrong, just ask the Widow) that too much attention is being placed on personal accomplishments in baseball.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m as pleased as the next guy with stats, records, and streaks, but are they really more important than the game itself? Here’s an example. It seems like ESPN is interrupting its programming for every single Bonds at bat. The reason is simple, to see if Barry makes history. But think for a second if the game situation is taken into consideration (or even given to the viewer). When the at bat is done, so is the coverage, as if there wasn’t even a game with 9 innings and 2 teams vying for the win. Think also of the headlines about Giants ballgames, a typical one might read, “Bonds does it again with a record setter, and, by the way, the Giants lose.”

I don’t want to be a curmudgeon on this issue. Let me say that I don’t think “things used to be better in the old days” or even that this only has to do with Bonds. It’s just so relevant because he seems to be breaking or making records every day. Last night, however, Bonds didn’t homer. This stopped his streak of games with a homer just short of the record held by a few other players. People will be complaining today that Bonds didn’t get the chance he deserved because Jake Peavy (the Padres pitcher) walked him twice. The game announcers certainly spent a lot of hot air on the subject. Lost (to me) in this talk was the fact that Peavy was tossing a shutout for a team trying to compete with the giants for the pennant. So what will the headline be for this game? Could be “Pads over .500 on the strength of Peavy’s gem,” but I wouldn’t bet my Balco stock against one like this, “Bonds misses records, and by the way Giants lose.”

Update

Iain at The Baseball Desert notes that today's ESPN headline is "Schmidt struggles; Peavy shines", which is true. However, ESPN articles usually have two headlines, one on the article and one on the main page. The mainpage article (that I linked to in the original post, although it has been changed now) was "Swingless in San Francisco: Bonds fails to homer."

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