Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Bonds sets home run record

Posted on | August 7, 2007 | No Comments

This has little to do with what I do right now, but I’m sitting here watching the game on Fox High Def and, well, I’m conflicted. Let’s put aside the issues of steroid use (or not). I’m of the mind that the chemical genie is out of the bottle in almost all sports. You can test for certain chemicals, but, like forgery and hacking, the bad guys will always be ahead of you. Alberto Contador won the Tour de France and immediately was suspected of doping. It’s all over the place. Everyone wants an edge, whether it’s botox and breast enhancements or Viagra or human growth hormone.
A couple of years back, I was at a conference in Phoenix and at night I ran into an older gentleman from Canada–just one of those guys who likes to yak with strangers. He and his wife were snow birds getting a little sun. I ran into him two straight nights and he talked my ear off both nights. The second night, we played sort of a guess your age game. I said he was probably 75. He claimed he was 85. I was blown away. His trick? Human growth hormone. Had been taking it for several years. To turn a phrase and offer a pun, that’s a hard pill NOT to swallow.
But anyway, here’s my problem with Barry Lamar Bonds and stretching past Henry Aaron’s 755 career home runs. It’s all about the individual. For the Giants, for the local media, it’s been all about Bonds. And this is a record (even if you’re a Bonds apologist, which I tend toward) that will always be tainted. As Wall Street immediately discounts bad news, so too have baseball fans already discounted the Bonds achievement. It will stand like like Sadaharu Oh, who holds the record (868) for home runs but because he set the mark in Japan it’s not considered legitimate.
What has endured is the marketing of the mark, the marketing of Bonds, and in this the Giants organization is reigned supreme. This is a team that has come close once in the two decades Bonds has played for the Giants but never delivered on what real fans want: A World Series victory. Real Giants fans may be proud of Bonds of protective of Bonds or suspicious of Bonds. Doesn’t matter. What counts is the Series and the Giants organization, long on marketing skills and extraordinarily short in baseball smarts has come up short.
That’s my take away for tonight.
The minute that ball sailed over the center-field fence, those fans not involved in the scrum, took off, and Phone Booth Park looked liked a ghost town an inning later (same thing happened Monday night when the Giants went extra innings and actually WON a late game).
Oh, by the way. We had a two-run lead tonight and lost the game. Again. Just like we lost in extra innings in San Diego when Bonds tied Aaron. We remain 13-plus games back and in last place in the National League West.
That, for me, is the bottom line.

P.S. as a cub reporter for UPI in Indiana I had a chance, at an Old Timer’s Game, to interview Hank Aaron. I have a photo of it, but I’m too lazy to scan it in tonight. He was accommodating and kind to a kid who really was hard-pressed to come up with clever questions at an old-timer’s game. I wanted to interview Joe DiMaggio (mostly for my mother) and Willie Mays (my boyhood hero who was tied up that evening), but DiMaggio, like Bonds, looked surly. There was Aaron, the greatest home run hitter of all time, willing to just shoot the breeze with this greenhorn kid with the stupid questions. As he did every game he played in, he gave it his best. Tonight, he gave a trademark Aaron High Class message on the scoreboard moments after Bonds rounded the bases.

P.P.S Watching the postgame press conference with Manager Bruce Boche. “What’s your reaction to the home run, blahfrigginblah.” Where is this question?
“Bruce, you were brought in from San Diego to replace the muddle-minded Felipe Alou. Your team is 13.5 games out of first and falling fast. You’re in the same strata as the hopeless Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Do you feel that you, a talented manager who did a lot in San Diego, were sold a bill of goods? And a followup: How quickly do you want to see Bonds get the hell into retirement?”

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No Responses to “Bonds sets home run record”

  1. Kerri
    August 15th, 2007 @ 6:10 am

    When reading about your departure from EETimes, I was quietly hoping that meant you’d write more about baseball. Thanks for not disappointing. (One of my favorite reads ever was a sports piece that you wrote for PBN back in, what, 1989, 1990?)

    Good luck at B&O. Also, get a Mac. 😉

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