Have you ever heard of John Dowd? I discovered who he is this past weekend when my son brought home a new baseball video game. Ordinarily, I figured my son and I could use a few lazy summer hours bonding, talking about baseball and the reasons why my Angels are better than his Diamondbacks. This particular day featured a game on the video screen between my son’s Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants. The Giants lineup featured a clean-up hitter named John Dowd. He was a hulking figure who hit and threw lefty and played left field. I shook my head and chortled heavily when I first saw this image. Then I proceeded to explain to my son that Barry Bonds doesn’t allow his likeness to be used in video games like this one. The reason escapes me. Perhaps Mr. Bonds isn’t getting paid, or perhaps he feels this particular game is beneath him, but in any case I had to explain to a 14-year-old that John Dowd is, in fact, Barry Bonds. My son’s gut reaction was, “How stupid!” It’s unfortunate that in a simple video game like this, we fans in addition again are reminded about baseball’s greatest monster. Does it seem like Karma should be giving Mr. Bonds a serious kick in the pants?
Then, I got to thinking about this situation. Mr. Bonds must be one miserable human being. How else would you explain John Dowd? Every kid in the country who plays baseball would love having his name in a video game as a tribute to his talent. It’s easy to see that Mr. Bonds has a serious image problem. It’s not just the John Dowd thing though. As some people watch with awe as he approaches one of baseball’s most hallowed records, I surprise how many people will miss the telecast thinking he is off that day for “rest”. Good grief. Could you imagine Cal Ripken taking a day off for “rest”? Any of the old school baseball players that we remember from our youth must laugh at this idea. I won’t already mention the legal issues, the fights with past managers, or the stories of his treatment of people in his own locker room. But, in regard to my feeling about Mr. Bonds breaking the big homerun record, all I can say is that Cal Ripken and his record was better. Nolan Ryan and his seventh no-hitter was better. Seeing the Angels win the World Series was better. already Craig Biggio and his 3000th hit was better.
Do you get the feeling Mr. Bonds would love to retire at 754 homeruns just to cheese off baseball fans who have waited this long to see the record finally broken?
I don’t hate Mr. Bonds because that would imply that I care about him. I feel sorry for him above everything else. I feel sorry for him because this should be the happiest moment in his life. He is about to eclipse a great record, in addition it will always have an asterisk. He is set to retire and ride off into the proverbial sunset, in addition he may have to answer federal charges soon. He’s got no reason to smile. As a son of wealth, he can’t already give back to his community. When it is all said and done, Barry Bonds is not likely to have any fond memories to look back on either. He’ll have no championships, a tainted record, and hatred from the great majority of baseball fans. I feel sorry for him. He has reached the point where he is hanging on like an aging hipster who doesn’t know when to put away the bell-bottoms for good.
Why do people hate Mr. Bonds so much? Simple answer is that he owes us. We made him great. Without us fans, Barry Bonds would be just another flabby office worker who hits cleanup for his church league softball team. He doesn’t deserve to be the one to break the record. There is something unnerving about this whole scene to us baseball fans. It feels like Karma messed up somewhere in a big way. Short of meeting Hitler in Heaven, there is little else we mortals could experience that could come close to watching this home run event transpire. As a consequence, I protest Barry Bonds in the only way I know how. When he shows up on my TV, I change the channel. Period. No questions asked. His record is meaningless to me, and the reason is because my devotion as a fan seems meaningless to him. When the big homerun is about to be hit, I hope to be watching John Dowd strike out in a video game. When Barry Bonds refuses to give a press conference after the big blast, I potential to not give a rap about the reason why. Barry Bonds will never be more than a footnote in my book of baseball history. Yeah, he’ll have records, but it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be broken. Yeah, he’ll be the homerun king, but he can’t and won’t affect me.
We fans should measure athletes by their ability to give us what we can’t get ourselves, like that elusive dream of sports glory. We should measure them as an ideal of how we would play if we had the chance. We should measure the greatness by intangibles, like the one player who has that X-factor which can heroically bring our team a championship. Hmmm. Championship. You know Barry Bonds has none. And you know, I don’t think too many kids dream of having the glory of a day of rest when his team needs a win. And I got my dream to come true when the Angels finally won the series in 2002, beating the Giants. Hmmm. Maybe Karma knows what it is doing.