Saturday, July 21, 2007

Back to baseball: Bonds and more

Barry Bonds. I'm almost afraid to write anything about him at this point, so I'll be friendly to Mother Earth and recycle. The last time I was brave enough to have an opinion on Bonds in particular was here, and here are two heavily researched pieces (in one post! Go me!) on MLB's steroid issue in general.

Joe Posnanski, in whose writing I could immerse myself for hours on end, is currently part of the media circus that will be stuck on Bonds as long as they need to be. Bonds is at 753, leaving Posnanski unsure of how to approach the impending record and what he'll write about it. (It's here) I take solace in this, because I face similar confusion:
...these are confusing times. I don’t have any clearer picture of this crazy home run deal. My own thoughts constantly contradict each other. I tend to believe that steroid use is worse than using amphetamines (or the more law-friendly cheating like corking bats or scuffing baseballs) but I couldn't tell you exactly why. I think that Hank Aaron is more worthy of the home run record though I believe Barry Bonds was the better player (even before steroid suspicions). I think Barry Bonds was, in most ways, just playing the rules and boundaries of his time, and yet I also think he was fully aware of the lines he was crossing.

-Enough of that. Time for O-Royals!

Last night's Blake Shelton concert drew a crowd of over 14,000. Luke Hochevar got off to a rather rocky start...his first pitch bounced in the dirt about 55 feet in front of the mound. His control problems continued (but not to such a gross extent) for the rest of his outing, as he walked five over five innings. However, he wasn't all bad. He did not give up any runs, only surrendered one hit, and he struck out four.

In tonight's game, everyone in Omaha's lineup had at least one hit, and five batters had more than one. Mike Aviles homered twice (I think he either hits zero or two in a given game; never one), and Angel Berroa and Shane Costa also homered. Some of those may have been helped by the wind blowing out to left, but we'll take 'em wherever we can get 'em, no? I do not like relying on the long ball as something to build an offense on, but it is a ton of fun for me when O-Royals batters hit them, as I get to jump around on the dugout tops and high-five every fan I can reach. Doing that is easily in the top 3 thing I love about my job. One of the other top 3 favorite things is up next...

- Tales from the dugout
Yesterday afternoon, my co-workers and I found ourselves with a ton of extra time before the game because of a scheduling typo. Our boss accidentally wrote that we should arrive at 4:00 for a 7:05 game, so we were all ready to rock 'n roll a couple hours ahead of first pitch, and were chillin down by the field before most of the players even arrived. Joey Gathright was the first player there, taking extended batting practice before his first appearance since being sent back to Omaha. As the rest of the players trickled in, they all greeted him pretty warmly; it was pretty clear that they all like having him around as much as we fans do. He told me that while he was in KC, he spoke with my cousin Chris (who works for the Royals) about me and how I heaved myself off the dugout. I'm not sure I want to know how that conversation went.

Anyway, it's great to have Gathright back, even though it's likely only going to last until the trade deadline. He injects a certain something into the fans' spirit; it seems everyone is more into the game when he's leading off. (Perhaps it's the fact that he had two hits last night, and two more tonight.) That means I misjudged him completely when he first joined the Royals organization last year. This is me admitting I was wrong, and wholeheartedly embracing Mr. Gathright as an important part of the Royals' lineup.

Before tonight's game, the usual smattering of fans was gathered 'round the Omaha dugout, looking to score some John Hancocks. A young boy, maybe 10 years old (but I'm not sure because I'm terrible at guessing that kind of thing), had a request with several contingencies for Ryan Shealy:
"Um, hi, Mr. Shealy? I was wondering...if you guys win tonight, and if you break a bat, can I maybe have the broken bat? Please?"

Shealy's reply: "That's a lot of ifs, but I'll see what I can do."

He broke two bats tonight.

Here's my thing about Shealy. I like the guy a lot, and I seem to be much more patient with him as a hitter than most people are. He's not having the best year at the plate, I know. I'm well aware of his tendency to strike out frequently, but I'm also aware that he has power. It's unfortunate that he had to be hidden in Todd Helton's shadow for so long, but I think he still has the chance to prove to the KC fan base that he was a good acquisition. He also happens to be pretty darn nice, and good with fans. I spoke to him yesterday about how much I appreciated him being a part of the Royals Caravan this past winter, as meeting him (along with Frank White, Ryan Braun, and Brian Poldberg) was exactly the kind of thing I needed to cheer me up from the worst winter EVER. I wanted to thank him for doing what I figured was kind of a chore for players to do. His response kind of shocked me. He told me that he actually really enjoyed being part of the Caravan, and he was actively pursuing the opportunity to do it again this winter. How can anyone not like this guy?

One more. Last night as I was singing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' from on top of the Royals dugout, a few fans stopped me as I was making a safe, non-injury-inducing exit back into the camera well. They had an adorable little boy with them, and said it was his 4th birthday. The one thing he wanted out of his birthday baseball game was to get a ball, if he could, from the dugout. Of course I told them I'd do what I could to acquire one for him. The players in the dugout were pretty engrossed in the action, because it was a close game, so I couldn't get anyone's attention for a little while. Then a foul ball was hit into the dugout, and pitcher Billy Buckner picked it up. I turned to my co-worker Britany and said, "Maybe that ball should go to the little birthday guy up there." Note that I did not say that to Buckner or anyone else inside the dugout. But Buckner overheard, and asked where the birthday boy was so he could give him the ball.

One very last thing
-Kansas City SO far from the basement
I am NOT a fan of the worst team in baseball. Pretty much the entire NL West has a worse record. I'm pretty sure the Comic Book Store Guy from the Simpsons has the scientific name for a division like that:
"Worst. Division. EVER."

Anyway, here's the list of teams that are not doing as well as KC right now:
Tampa Bay
San Fransisco

WHEW! What a long list!

Sorry for the crappy blogging tonight, you could make it up to your brain by reading more Joe Posnanski. Also, buy his book.


Kathy said...

I absolutely believe that there should be an asterisk next to all of Barry Bonds' stats, and that the number of homers he has hit should be in quotation marks. That should solve the issue. For his fans, he would be listed as the record holder, and there would be some recognition for those of us who hate cheating.

Anonymous said...

First off, I will repeat what many people know but refuse to aknowledge. Bonds has never tested positive. Now I am not saying that he never took steroids, but in the US the law is that he is innocent until proven guilty. He is a scape goat for this era in baseball in which most pitchers were juiced and got away with it without a problem. Putting an asterisk next to his records would mean putting one next to Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire, and Roger Clemens, just to name a few. Each of the top 3 homerun hitters are the best of their era. Was Babe better than most in Hank's era, even though he never had to face any of the best pitchers because they were black? You just can't compare eras. And whether people like it or not, Bonds is the best of this so-called "Steriods era."

Max said...

I always thought Barry was a jerk until I saw how sanctimonious and jerk-like many columnists were in reference to Barry. So now I root for the guy. Thanks mainstream media, you got me to root for Barry Bonds.