Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: Can Bonds catch Aaron?
SAN FRANCISCO – Sometimes my left brain and right brain get in arguments.
Lefty, the logical one, sees Barry Bonds approaching second place on the all-time home run list and gags in disgust. Righty, the emotional one, views the impending achievement as an accomplishment because a home run is a home run, right? Lefty sees the parts of the whole as tainted. Righty sees the whole and doesn't particularly care about the parts.
Since the government seems to believe it's OK to record private conversations, I took the liberty of transcribing the chat between my hemispheres while watching Bonds go homerless again in San Francisco's victory Thursday at AT&T Park.
Right: You don't like Barry Bonds very much, do you?
Left: As a person, not particularly. He is consumed with himself. He is a raging narcissist. He allegedly has treated women poorly. As a ballplayer, I marvel at his natural ability, of which he had more than anybody except Ken Griffey Jr. And he still felt the need to cheat.
Right: He did not cheat.
Left: He didn't?
Right: No. Even if he took steroids, they were not illegal in baseball.
Left: Ah, the steroids-weren't-illegal argument. I know you're the illogical one, but come on.
Right: Hundreds of players besides Bonds used them.
Left: Now the if-others-jumped-off-a-bridge argument. Please, add a third bullet hole to your foot.
Right: Try to vet this one: There is no positive test. Until someone finds performance-enhancing drugs in his urine, no one knows, with 100 percent certainty, whether Barry Bonds ever used them. The Rev. Jesse Jackson agrees: "In none of these periods has he tested positive, so he's innocent until proven guilty."
Left: Innocence and guilt apply in the judicial system. Reality has different standards. Anyone who can objectively look at the evidence against Bonds – the circumstantial such as his unnatural growth and the tangible such as the steroid schedules reported in the book "Game of Shadows" – would come away believing he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Right: Who's on first?
Right: What's on second.
Left: You're changing the subject!
Right: Fine, but truth is, I believe in results. That applies to drug tests and home run totals. "Here's a guy who might wind up being No. 1," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "You can't ignore that. It's happening. It's not a dream or fiction. It's the truth."
Left: Notice how I'm not quoting anyone.
Right: Because your points are weak and no one will back them up?
Left: No, because I don't need to buffer fallacies with the ruminations of toadies. No one in the Giants organization will call out Bonds. Fans might mutiny. For the 14 years he's played in San Francisco, the Giants have complied with his every wish, want and desire. For a real opinion on Bonds, walk into the other clubhouse. Want a quote? How about what Carlos Zambrano said after he held Bonds hitless: "You have to understand, he's not on his timing. He doesn't have his swing like he did two years ago. … For me, he missed good pitches that he could hit out of the park."
Right: You do know Carlos Zambrano might be the craziest person in baseball.
Left: Touché. But during a conversation last week about how Bonds handles the amalgam of pressure, both personal and historical, with a prickly faade, one teammate told me, "He does this to himself."
Right: Yeah, I heard. Remember? I help process things other people say, too.
Left: My bad.
Right: And when people write in to say we're racist for your ragging on Bonds? You read that, too, right?
Left: I still don't understand their perspective. Let's flesh this out: I am for the sanctity of records in baseball. Somebody who allegedly did steroids broke the single-season home run record and might break the all-time mark. Thus, I find a person who besmirches the pureness of records fairly despicable. Bonds is one of those people. So, allegedly, is Mark McGwire, and I feel just the same about him.
Right: Fair, but to ignore the racial element in Bonds' chase is simply irresponsible. No matter our progress, race still enflames tempers like little else. Because Bonds is black, and because he may very well be all the things you described, he is viewed by some white people as a threat. Not to Babe Ruth and not to Hank Aaron, but to supremacy in a white-dominated society. What, you think all the people who menaced Aaron during his chase are dead? By broaching the subject, Bonds creates some of the tension, but most of it is an inherent – and sad – part of living in the United States.
Left: As is another absurd American pastime.
Right: Blaming the media for reporting the problems people bring upon themselves and chalking it up to personal grudges that don't exist?
Left: Finally, something we agree on.