The New Ty Cobb?

I posted below that church politics needs a soul. While I'm on the cynical roll, let me say that I think major league baseball needs one, too.

Watching Imus in the Morning this morning, I learned that when Bonds hit his latest home run he refused to give an autograph to the fan who caught it, who was a serviceman. It was also said that Bonds had the man sign a waiver for use in his future reality show. While I'm sure that the latter part is apocryphal, it all reminds me of a quote from Rogers Hornsby, who said, "Any player who doesn't sign autographs ain't American." In Bonds' defense, the serviceman wasn't in uniform... and that's all the defense I will give Mr. Bonds.

What follows are going to be harsh words... but since Bonds has publicly declared that he doesn't care what anyone thinks, I think he'll be able to handle it.

It simply boggles my mind that someone with as much God-given talent as Bonds would be so blamed arrogant. Like it or not, Bonds is in the limelight, and in a tradition like baseball that ought to carry a sense of responsibility. Now I don't expect baseball players to be saints, but do they have to go out of their way to be jerks? It says a lot about Willie Mays that he is standing by Bonds. My advice to Bonds is that he be a little more like his godfather. Mays signed autographs. He loved kids. And people loved to yell "Say Hey!" whenever Mays was around. When Bonds is around, people like to yell... Unfortunately, they usually aren't words of support.

The jury is out about Bonds and steroids. I'm holding out hope that Bonds is truthful when he says he didn't use steroids... because I fear if we find out that he did, baseball will receive another major blow that it might not recover from.

If Bonds breaks the Babe's record, I fear he may do so with a proverbial "*" next to his record. Was the Babe to be emulated in all things? Certainly not... I mean, the guy went out and drank and womanized all night, and played ball the next day - and STILL hit home runs. But he endeared people to him, and he endeared people to baseball (even if he DID play for the Yankees). Bonds has turned a lot of folks off. As the kids say: "That's not good."

A movie was made a few years ago about Ty Cobb, simply named, "Cobb." Without a doubt, Ty Cobb was one of the greatest and shrewdest ballplayers to ever swing a bat. But nobody could stand him; his family, his teammates, fans - he went out of his way to tell folks he didn't care whether people liked him or not. The only thing nice he could say about Babe Ruth was, "He runs well for a fat man." He even sharpened his cleats with a file, and would come sliding in a base with spikes in the air. You may remember in the movie Field of Dreams when Shoeless Joe said that Ty Cobb wanted to come play, but that "no one could stand the S.O.B. so we told him to stick it!" He then erupted in infectious laughter.

I don't think Bonds sharpens his cleats as Cobb did. But he's earned a similar reputation. I would pray that he emulate the attitudes of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron - class acts, lovers of baseball and fans.

Go out in style, Barry. Get rid of the "*".



John said…
Where ever did we get this expectation that baseball is some sort of priesthood? It's just a sport and people play it because they can make a lot of money at it. It has no more moral requirements than accounting, carpentry, or shoe sales. Bonds doesn't want to sign a baseball. Who cares? It's his business not to be troubled by everyone who wants a moment of his time. No one else works for free. Why should we expect baseball players to be an exception? It's just a job and nothing more.
Well... it's a job that is dependent on fans for its existence. It's also based on a game that is supposed to be played by the rules.

Priesthood? No. But I guess we want it to be like the rest of the world - things are only wrong if you get caught.

I don't expect them to work for free. But it would seem only sensible to please the folks who help pay their salary.