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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I watched the Giants-Nationals baseball game last night. I told myself that when Barry Bonds hit home run 756, I'd not react or give it one ounce of credence. He more than likely cheated to get here. And he's by all accounts--let's be kind here--not a lovable figure. Perhaps it's the media's taint. But even before the steroids allegations, I never liked him. I loved when a fly ball hit him on the head in St. Louis, bounding over the wall for a home run. I liked watching him fail. Yet here I was, glued to my TV. Bonds came up, for the third time, with my heart racing. Is this it? Rookie pitcher. Check. Fastball clocking in at 86. Check. Home crowd. Check. Barry was ahead in the count 3-1 when I thought the perfect pitch came. High, out over the plate, with not much on it, I thought. But he missed it. And the next pitch was a curveball or a changeup possibly, because it came in 75 MPH right over the middle of the plate. Initially, it looked like it dropped (suggesting curve) but that was the official Barry Bonds "I Want to Get This Over With" home run swing, so it could have been a changeup. He missed that, too. Then he came out of the game. I really had to examine my feelings on this. If it's completely meaningless, why was my heart racing? You could see the Bonds family, wife, daughter, and son, waiting and hoping. And I wanted it for them. Those kids are watching their daddy on the verge of breaking the most hallowed record in all sports. Records are more a part of this game than any other. And I thought Griffey, Jr. would break this record maybe, but I remain astounded at Hank Aaron. I wish I could have seen him play. Anyway, this means something. I refuse to ignore this like it didn't happen. I'd have to erase some cherished memories if this era doesn't count. I remain joyously incapabable of believing that Mark McGwire took steroids, and the season of 70 remains pristine to me. Even Sosa, whose image has been tarnished lately, gets credit from me for that great summer. What I'm saying is that these are our memories. Our baseball lives. We remember what we felt, how McGwire earned the accolades as much for his handling of the situation as for the accomplishment. The game was back into America's heart. And I won't let some snobby moralist tell me that I wasted my time, that it doesn't matter. It's our game, players we watched and rooted for. If it's tainted, then I'm tainted. And I'm OK with that.