Sunday, March 9, 2014

Minority Report

The perennial procession of time and moving forward has sprung upon us!

Its March, and as I age (hopefully growing wiser), it seems Seasons creep faster upon the shadows of my porch than I recall. February has whisked by, and with it, the knocking of Spring appears on manicured playing fields in our Nation's sunshine states of Arizona and Florida. Spring training has commenced, and the boys (more like Goliaths, in our millennium age) of baseball are taking up space on the fields dreams are unearthed.

There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball (MLB). Come March 1, all 30 teams have same hopes and aspirations of making it to the Fall Classic, MLB World Series.  Out of all professional leagues present in North America, Baseball has the fewest teams eligible to make playoffs. Only 10 teams have an opportunity to advance, based of course, on record. Of those 10 teams, 2 will be omitted in a 1 game opportunity to advance further. Less than 30% of MLB teams will get an opportunity to reach October glory. If you've been stuck in the wilderness, or vacuumed up by another dimension, the object to baseball is to hit the ball away from players on the field, round all 3 bases and score reaching home base. Of course, the pitcher throwing a ball at you, and all the position players assigned to cover the bases, and outfielders covering well hit balls have rigorous intentions to make sure all the batters that come up to the plate, either struck out or tagged out. Honestly, its quite a strategic game of cat and mouse at the highest athletic level. One of the greatest aspects regarding baseball, is there's no clock. Teams do not need to worry about minutes running down, or a buzzer sounding. Rather than worrying about futile sweeping of ticks escaping opportunity to score, all teams have 27 outs.  Needless to say, heavy emphasis lies upon hitting success.

Baseball has played in some sort of organized format at least 125 years. It's been considered a favorite past time in America, and pastoral game quite stringent to change. In its traditional form, and rules between 1890 and 1980, there were a hand full of stand out hitters. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, and Pete Rose are the few like no one else. The feats fans were blessed to witness and marvel during their careers may never be repeated. In the 1980's, there was an interesting change in the anatomy and dynamics of baseball players. The era of performance enhancement infested the clubhouses in every town USA. It was a whispered transition purposely ignored by owners, and majority of fans. The thrill of hits, runs, home run bombs blasting out of yards began to draw National interest back to baseball that drifted in a lethargic stagnant decade of 1970's. Hitters were not alone. Pitchers needed to quickly figure out how to improve their performance on the mound. The days of complete games diminished, as team managers quickly realized 'specialists', like closers, and set-up men were in demand to keep a fresh arm available to combat the increasing number of power hitters.  No one was left innocent in a prevalent PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs) Era that began in the mid- 1980's. A few of the distinguished known users were Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Samy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and Andres Galarraga. Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco were ostracized by their baseball community publicly disclosing rampant use of PED throughout baseball. Of course, majority of baseball owners and players vehemently denied such accusations.

Unfortunately, in a Congressional special report that came out in 2007, The Mitchell Report, confirmed such allegations. Millions of public dollars were used to expose questions regarding morality and legitimacy of PED use in a professional game. The information disclosed in the 409 paged Congressional Document to the attention of the Commissioner of baseball caused chaos. A supposed illegal substance banned by Major League Baseball in 1994, was the most significant oversight in regulation of professional sports. There literally was no enforcement in place, or punishment truly on record. Owners, and the commissioner of Major League Baseball were literally caught with their pants down.  There was no more speculation, no more denying steroids, designer performance drugs, Human Growth Hormone supplements were prevalent in USA's endearing traditional game. Altruists, and journalists who've followed the sports since childhood ostracized every player caught as cheaters. There were others, though, who had a more pragmatic evaluation, disclosing an era of baseball that was inevitable. Lines were drawn in the dirt, and journalists with their ultimate power of words and Hall of Fame votes, have risen the stakes of what side they represented.  With a critical aristocratic tone, majority of credential-toting journalists, beat writers snubbed any person challenging their black and white temperament regarding certain performances and its relation to use of a PED. It seems they've bunched up everyone who've used some type of PED as cheaters, plain and simple. Of course, there are valid cases of players sparse surges in numbers, and relation to some type of chemical assistance.  Majority of players who sought some type of PED, desired any kind of edge to assist in keeping them healthy and strong enough to remain valid, and in 'The Show'.  Yet, there is a player, regardless of designer performance supplements, that's truly an exception, and should never be lumped in to the same sentence as Ken Caminiti, or Samy Sosa.  I am in the minority supporting the excellence and jaw dropping career of Barry Bonds.

Barry Bonds was eligible for the Hall of Fame two years ago. The journalists have drawn first blood, shutting him out of a prestigious honor he deserves.  Unlike any other baseball player accused of using some type of PED, he successfully sustained explosive performances for 15 years. If you look at every other 'user', they may have had one, or two incredible years. The Hall of fame numbers posted by Barry Bonds begs the question, exactly how did still unknown and assumed designer PEDs assist Barry Bonds? The only advantage any regimen completed by the Bay Area legend would be recovery.  No designer enhancement made today or tomorrow can teach a player swing speed, and eye hand coordination. If anything, the advantage Bonds had over every other player, was his ability to see the ball, insane swing speed, and lineage. Barry Bonds is the product of two great hitters that groomed him, his father Bobby Bonds and Godfather Willie Mays. The research and studying Barry and his father put in to pitchers he faced would astound anyone.  Steroids destroys a body. Steroids eventually destroys sound thinking. I won't deny that Bonds may have used something to assist in his ability to sustain his performance, I don't think it was steroids. There are many other products  available to players (like Human Growth Hormone, Blood doping) where there are no valid tests presently in place by MLB (they really ought to discuss valid testing with Olympics testing labs, they seem to keep up with he most dated products used by athletes seeking zero detection).

Barry Bonds has been hired by San Francisco Giants to join the organization to become an assistant to the hitting coach. Once again, the sides have piped up if this is an appropriate action, a positive action to support team progress in hopes of boosting a known suspect offense. I whole-heartily support the move and if I were Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford, or Brandon Belt, I would be ecstatic at the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest hitters ever dawning a San Francisco Giants uniform in the 20th Century.  I support the action of Barry Bonds becoming a Hall of Famer. I one hundred percent support Bonds presence at the batting cage. There is a wealth of knowledge and approach Barry Bonds has and can pass on to the next generation of hitters. I may never see another performer in my life time that had the power and patience as Mr. Bonds. I am privileged to count myself as one of thousands blessed memorizing greatness out at Candlestick and the current San Francisco Giants home, the house that Bonds built,  AT&T Park. I am the minority, and proud fan of Barry Bonds!

One of Barry Bonds' last public interviews, was one of the best candid windows in to a man we all think we know, but have a lot to learn about. Please watch and enjoy:

Barry Bonds Interview

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