Sunday, May 21, 2006

bonds and barbaro

It strikes me that the two biggest stories in sports this Saturday were both tragedies. Foremost of course was the thoroughbred Barbaro fracturing his right rear leg in the Preakness. They haven't killed him yet, but it doesn't look good. I must say though that the reaction of Barbaro's co-owner Roy Jackson (as reported in William Rhoden's behind-the-firewall column in the New York Times) kind of chilled me: "These things happen."

That's easy to say, and I imagine Jackson didn't mean to sound callous, but that's how it came across to me. I'm not a horseracing fan, and partly it's because "these things happen." Animals shouldn't be used in sports. Obviously things like dog-fighting and cock-fighting are worse since in those sports, pain and injury (and often death) are the expected outcomes. But it just doesn't seem right to me to use animals that have no say in things for human entertainment and gambling. Barbaro's injury just reconfirms this to me.

The other big sports story Saturday was Barry Bonds drawing even with Babe Ruth and hitting his 714th home run. Some have griped at Bonds' treatment by baseball as he approached Ruth. But hey, you don't get parades for tieing with second place. Hank Aaron wasn't feted for passing Willie Mays (then #2 on the home run charts) -- when HE hit 714 and 715, he tied and surpassed Ruth's then-record, which is why he got the big centerfield celebrations. If (big if) Bonds reaches 755/756, then we could talk.

I called Bonds' story a tragedy. It is. It's tragic how a magnificent, sure-fire Hall of Fame player already on way to maybe hitting 600 homers became consumed by jealousy at the attention andro-men like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa got when they passed Roger Maris' single season home run record in 1998. Bonds then of course, with his usual sense of purpose and commitment, turned to steroids to supplement his outstanding skills and became the slugging bulbous freak he is today.

But at least when Bonds ruined his body with steroids because of his jealousy and insecurity, he did it to himself.