Monday, July 23, 2007

Barry Bonds Comes to Fenway

First posted at Big Dave on sports

It was a redemptive weekend for anyone north of Flushing after last weekend’s less than satisfactory ending of the Northeast’s favorite show, “The Sopranos.” First, with the reported news that David Chase, was lying in a Flatbush massage parlor, having his genitalia manipulated and brought to the edge of climax, when lights were shut off and he was left in the dark, leaving him to complain how unfair is to be “led to believe that there is going to be some big final payoff, to have dozens of hints dropped that you are going to get the ending that you deserve, and then boom! The lights go out and you’re left with nothing but disappointment.” Secondly, with the Yankees dominating the Mets, and thirdly, with Barry Bonds coming to Fenway with less magic than Shoeless Joe brought to Iowa.

It being Father’s Day, in between the Red Sox thumping of the Giants and seeing Bonds get his first Fenway homerun (oh the thrill!), the Yankees schooling the Mets, and quickly trying to speed through S.I.’s glowing tribute to Omar Minaya before he gets booted like a football off of Letterman’s roof, I spent the afternoon on the computer with my granddaughters Mackenzie and Emily (whose picture accompanies my blog), while Mackenzie searched Webkinz and, Emily spun in the chair and then reminded me just how much a three year old’s stomach can hold as she projectile vomited over me like one of those spinning fountains in “The Girls Next Door.” Cost of the Father’s Day gift from your grandchild $8.99, wearing their lunch all over you, priceless.

I don’t think it was the spinning in the chair that caused her vomiting but the play of the Mets who got smacked, thumped and abused Saturday and Sunday by the streaking Bombers. As of Monday morning the only divisions the Mets would be leading are their own, the NL Central, and the NBA East.

The only black mark for the Yankees was that they lost the one game they couldn’t afford to lose. Roger Clemens is only worth the money and aggravation is if he wins, and he can’t win if you don’t get runs, especially against Oliver Perez, a guy the Pirates happily set adrift last season. Granted Perez has been reborn in Flushing, but your offense can’t put up a goose egg while Clemens is pitching. Still, Bronx-dwellers have little to complain about. A quick measure of people’s baseball IQ? If they told you in the last two months that the Bombers were done, their IQ is at the Paris Hilton level.

As for the Mets? Pray for Pedro, for the Braves and Phils to stumble just a little bit more, and for the Indians to win the AL.

And in Beantown, home of my alma-mater Emerson College, where Sam Presti, named general manager of the Seattle Supersonics, played basketball, making only the second time in my experience that Emerson, a communications and performing arts college, and sports were used in the same sentence; the first being when I went to school there and Denis Leary, a recent graduate, was contacted to play in an alma-mater softball game and was told “rehearsal will be Sunday in the park,” (don’t worry Sonic fans you will have the best uniforms and beautifully choreographed cheerleaders) the great Barry Bonds arrived.

This event let the largely Irish-Catholic print media in Boston do what they do best, rip apart a black guy. If you think this claim is unwarranted I suggest you pick up a copy of Howard Bryant’s “Shut Out” which chronicled the Boston media’s objection to the Red Sox being integrated, with Football Hall Of Fame writer Will McDonough being chief among the offenders. Athletes like Will Cordero, Mo Vaughn, Jim Rice, Ferguson Jenkins, Carl Everett, and George Scott were scorched daily during their stays in Boston. In the last ten years this venom has almost completely disappeared, but those raised at McDonough’s knee, like Dan Shaugnessey, who readers of Curt Schilling’s 38 Pitches will recognize as the “Curly Haired Boyfriend” can still rip apart a black athlete for supposedly cheating at baseball while giving a big pat on the back to white hockey coach Craig MacTavish for turning his life around after being convicted for getting drunk and killing a 26 year old woman. Somehow if MacTavish was a 6’2 black point guard from Georgetown, that story doesn’t get written.

Of course race isn’t the only reason this story gets written. While regular Americans watched McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds saying, “They have to be on something” the media hopped on the bandwagon. Their job was to find the truth, not dance in glee with each bomb. Now the media is backing off their culpability in the duping of America faster than Senators are backing off their voting for the war in Iraq.

In all Shoeless Barry coming to Fenway was less an event than centerfielder Dave Roberts, who, in 2004, did something no Red Sox player had ever done before. He stole a base. Since then he has had a golden ticket in Boston and the force of his cheers were ten times stronger than the boos received by Bonds.

Friday Bonds maybe hit one out, it went so high over the Pesky pole that one could only guess, and, since it was a road game, and he was Barry, it was foul.

On Saturday, in the eighth, with two on and no one out, Barry proved why he is not a Yankee by getting frozen on a third strike by Hideki Okajima with men on first and second and no one out. That moment wasn’t about Bonds but about the Sox wiggling out of a 1-0 game with the game’s best hitter at the plate keeping them from doing to Dice-K what the Yanks did to Clemens the night before, letting him die from lack of support.

Bonds finally christened Fenway on Sunday, sending a fat Tim Wakefield (who played with a much thinner Bonds in Pittsburgh, and for some reason has not put on the weight Barry has) knuckleball in the right field pen. But it was for naught as the Sox clearly have Matt Morris’ number, which is unfortunate because he pitches in another league, swept the series, and somehow gained a game over the weekend on the charging Yankees.

So Barry picked up and left Fenway making no more impact than Pedro Feliz, the Mets stumbled out of the Bronx wasted and wounded, and like millions of Americans at 9:00 at night my wife and I sat in front of a black TV screen hoping it would come to life and tell us how the Sopranos really ended.

No comments: