Thursday, March 24, 2005

A DEEP PILE OF DOO-DOO

Can Barry Bonds be any more charming? Has any player so talented ever been so despised? Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and the rest of the players who first made the move from the Negro Leagues to the Major Leagues certainly had real oppression, racism, and animosity from the uneducated, ignorant rednecks and elitists of the time, but Barry Bonds can’t even get his teammates to support him as he takes a public relations beating on a daily basis.

What Bonds needs to realize is that his public persona is of his own making. Bonds was and is an arrogant, rich young man who grew up the son of an All-Star and never endeared himself to teammates (apparently he, like Carl Everett who played the role in Boston for a season, is one of those people born or bred without charm, likeability, or a personality). The difference of media popularity between Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. isn’t the difference in ability and background, but how that player was able to come across to the public and how they were marketed. Extremely similar backgrounds, extremely similar careers (until Griffey caught the injury bug and Bonds transformed into the large-headed, back-acned, shrunken testicle behemoth that science has made him), and yet Griffey was the video-game/cereal box/trading card/MLB promotions poster boy and Barry was the angry, petulant star whose abilities were respected but who was never liked by teammates, media, or the fans.

Personally, I hope Barry Bonds retires and stays stuck at 703 home runs. Any comparison to Babe Ruth remains ridiculous. Ruth was the best left-handed pitcher in the game; having set a World Series record for consecutive shutout innings that stood for over thirty years, out dueled Walter Johnson, and won twenty-three and twenty-four games in a season. After that impressive career he moved to the outfield and proceeded to completely shatter every power-hitting record by such a margin that it is incomprehensible to imagine by modern standards. Ruth hit 59 home runs one year—more than any other team in baseball that season. That would be the equivalent of Bonds hitting two-hundred and fifty or more home runs today. Bonds can break all of the records set by Ruth (like many who came after the Babe), but none of them could ever have the impact on the game or so outshine his peers like Ruth did in the early 1920s.

For that matter, I don’t want to see Bonds break the homerun record of Henry Aaron. I don’t want to see that smug jerk circling the bases on ESPN after he hits home run number 756 to pass Aaron. Aaron is a player I have held in high regard after reading a biography on him at the age of eight. Henry Aaron faced racism that Barry Bonds cannot even fathom. Bonds had everything handed to him in life and he still had to cheat to get ahead. Aaron was a superb hitter, amazingly consistent, and with deceptive power. The pressures, death threats, and racist anger directed at Aaron when he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record are unfathomable to my generation, Barry Bonds included.

Bonds says he finally jumped off the bridge—let me give him one more little nudge.

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MISCELLANEOUS:

COACH JIMMY IN HOT WATER IN PHILLY:

Jimmy O’Brien, the savior in Boston who rescued the Celtics after the Rick Pitino debacle (to put it politely), is suddenly in hot water in Philadelphia after two-thirds of a season as head coach? That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the NBA. How anyone can put a coach on the hot seat after he has coached less than a full season, had to deal with Allen Iverson on a daily basis, and, lucky him, gets handed Chris Webber at the trading deadline. Apparently the writers in Philadelphia have been savaging him in the papers and on nitwit talk radio, but give him a break. Sure, I thought his offensive style of play was revolting in Boston, but I thought the Pistons offense was revolting last season and they won the NBA Championship.

O’Brien is a good guy, a good coach, and certainly deserves three years to put his stamp on the team and give them a chance to compete. To hear this malarkey coming out of Philly makes me realize why criticism here in Boston doesn’t faze Terry Francona: he survived four years of this B.S. while in Philadelphia.

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OTHER COACH KILLERS: KOBE & LEBRON:

How disappointing to see the Cleveland Cavaliers dumped former Boston Celtics player Paul Silas as coach the other day. What was the problem with the job Silas did? He took one of the youngest teams in the league and led them to a record of 35-30? The horrors! Hey, he didn’t trade Ricky Davis away for a bag of basketballs (aka three jokers who aren’t even on the team), nor did he give up a first round pick for poor Jiri Welsch who is shooting under 30% for Cleveland since he was dealt by Boston. Accountability needs to start higher up—like in the General Manager’s office, not on the court with a hard-working, intelligent coach.

I wonder where the Lakers would be with Shaq and Phil Jackson instead of Kobe Bryant. My guess, a whole heck of a lot better off than their current record of 32-35 and six game losing streak. The Lakers ownership and front office should be ashamed of themselves for letting Shaq go for pennies on the dollar and keeping that spoiled lout Kobe around (son of a pro player, privileged youth, horrible personality—Kobe’s the new Barry!).

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START THE SEASON ALREADY FOR GOD’S SAKE:

Wells vs. Johnson—that is all I can think about. Bring on the Yankees! Of course, records in the first month of the season are probably the most useless in baseball. Most teams have not jelled, aren’t at full strength, and otherwise are not in full form. Of course, the games count the same. Personally, I’d like to see Bellhorn rap one off the foul pole again, just like in the ALCS—if only to give those arrogant Yankees fans a reminder of what was and what they face again: a Red Sox team that won’t be intimidated, bullied, or pushed around by the arrogant, overpaid, pinstriped Yankees.

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TY LAW DOES NOT HAVE A FOOT TO STAND ON:

Rumor has it that Ty Law and his uber-agent Carl Posten have a standing offer from the Patriots. I’m sure it is of the if you can’t latch on anywhere else being an injured 30 year old at a position dominated by speed and athleticism don’t hesitate to give us a call. For the right price we have a place for you.

Maybe, just maybe, he and Brown will return after all. That would certainly be a tough pill for all those Belichick-hating Boston sportswriters to swallow.

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ONE MONTH TO THE DRAFT – EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED:

Speaking of the Patriots (no, I’ll leave poor Tedy Bruschi alone—of course he’s not playing this year. The Patriots are not idiots, in case the media has missed out on that fact recently), Rick’s favorite holiday—NFL Draft Day—is rapidly approaching. The one thing to remember is to think like Belichick—not like a sportswriter.

So I expect that there will be no offensive line help drafted early (maybe in the 3rd round or later), no linebackers picked early (Tully Banta-Cain & Dan Klecko will pick-up the slack outside & inside this season), and I’d say we can expect to see development-type linebackers like Banta-Cain and Klecko picked later in the draft (around rounds 5-7).

Also, I expect more defensive line help to be drafted early (somehow I do not think that the Patriots can afford to keep Richard Seymour—but I hope I am wrong!), some more secondary help if there is a cornerback Belichick likes available in the second or third round, or possibly an offensive skill position (WR/RB/QB) in the first round if Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick see someone drop who is in their top ten (like Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork, who inexplicably fell into their laps on draft day the past two seasons like a giant-sized Christmas present).

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FINAL NOTE:

Thanks to all who responded to me about the Wallflowers reference in yesterday’s blog—I appreciate the response! It’s good to know people are reading this and not just printing it out, shredding it, and using it in the cat box.

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