King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Weirdest thing in sports: Barry Bonds' "chase" of the motionless, and technically dead, Babe Ruth. Plus: The media's amazing power.


Salon Staff
May 12, 2006 8:00PM (UTC)

This Barry Bonds "chase" of Babe Ruth's home run record has got to be the screwiest thing I've ever seen, and that's if you don't even think about the whole steroid thing, which, just so we can have a few nice moments together, let's not think about for a second.

First of all, it's a pretty low-speed chase, isn't it? I mean, you thought the white Bronco was dawdling. I don't know how to break this to you, but Babe Ruth is dead. He's kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

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He has stopped hitting home runs.

Chasing Babe Ruth is like chasing a parked car. There ain't a lot of drama involved.

Bonds isn't "chasing" Ruth. His San Francisco Giants are chasing the Colorado Rockies for first place in the National League West, though that brings up a whole nother question of whether you can call something a chase if both parties are moving backward.

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As with any "chase" of a career record, what's really going on is a kind of grim vigil, a wait for the inevitable, which when it happens we'll all pretend has some significance beyond just another home run for Barry Bonds.

Now, hitting 715 home runs is a hell of a thing -- remember, we're not thinking about steroids for a minute here. But so is hitting 713 home runs. It's not like Bonds will somehow become exactly as great as Ruth on whatever day he hits No. 714 and greater when he hits No. 715.

Bonds is either greater than Ruth or Ruth is greater than Bonds. Reasonable people can and do disagree about that question, but by now, with the 71st anniversary of Ruth's last game approaching and almost all of Bonds' career behind him, the evidence is pretty much in. However many homers Bonds hits in these last few twilight months or years of his career won't have much bearing.

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And the same is true of comparing Bonds with Henry Aaron, whose all-time record of 755 homers Bonds will commence "chasing" as soon as he gets past the blazing, by which I mean stationary, Ruth.

Bad news, adrenaline junkies: Aaron hit his last home run almost 30 years ago. The good news is that he's still very much with us.

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But does my mentioning Aaron remind you of anything? Oh yeah! Babe Ruth doesn't hold the record. He's in second place. Aaron broke his record in 1974, then broke it 40 more times over the next two and a half years.

And please don't write a letter telling me Ruth holds the record for most home runs by a left-handed hitter. He also holds the record for most home runs on Saturdays, but really, who cares?

OK, I made that up about Saturdays. But still, if we're reducing Ruth to subcategory record holder, we're missing the point of who and what he was, and we're not doing Bonds any favors either when we congratulate him -- remember, we're ignoring the steroid thing -- for "catching" and passing Ruth.

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Since when is the "chase" for second place on any list a big deal? It's just screwy.

And when you add in the whole steroid thing -- we can't ignore it forever, you know -- the screwiness multiplies like Barry's hat size.

With Major League Baseball announcing it won't celebrate the milestone, since Bonds is under investigation, and fans everywhere but in San Francisco are rooting for it not to happen while knowing it will, and even a lot of Giants fans, including the one typing these words, not knowing quite how to react to the continually astonishing achievements of this most distasteful character in the home vanillas, the whole thing's just weird. Screwy.

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Bonds stayed stuck on 713 during a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs this week. He'll try again over the weekend at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Are you like me? Do you want Albert Pujols to just hurry up and hit his next 550 home runs already?

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Hit the showers, you lousy 401K [PERMALINK]

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff gave credit to the media for the Ottawa Senators' win in Game 4 of their playoff series Thursday, a win that staved off elimination. Ruff's Sabres had won the first three games, but the Sens kept their season alive with a 2-1 victory.

"I think the media woke them up by calling out different players with criticism," Ruff said after the game.

As a member of the media -- really, I get the newsletters and everything -- I had no idea I had so much power. I double-checked my handbook and I can't find anything about how calling out players can make them better.

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It's worth a try, but it seems silly to squander such influence on the comings and goings of ballplayers and such. Well, I am in a fantasy baseball league for the first time, so let me just say to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Buehrle that you're a pair of worthless bums who couldn't beat out Lucy Van Pelt for playing time on the Bad News Bears or the Kansas City Royals.

But what I really want to talk about is the pathetic performance of my bank account, my stock options, the plumbing in my house and whoever happens to be on my team in pickup basketball games.

It's time for these people and things to step up, dig down, show a little backbone and a lot of heart. Their showing is embarrassing, and they all ought to be ashamed of themselves.

At long last, bank account, options, plumbing and teammates who keep foolishly passing the ball to me and failing to help on defense when I cleverly let my man dribble past me: Have you no pride?

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There. I'll let you know how it works.

Previous column: Triple overtime

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