WE ARE AT ROIDCON 2, PEOPLE
Hello. I am here today to talk to you about the next couple of months. They will be annoying. Here are some links for you in case you change your mind about your plans this fall and winter:
Golden State of Mind is the SB Nation site for the Golden State Warriors, the Orioles of basketball: really exciting in the mid-'90s, one playoff appearance since then. But they could be kind of okay this year. They have a player named Festus.
Fear the Fin is the SB Nation site for the San Jose Sharks, who are undefeated this season! Good for them.
Niners Nation is the SB Nation site for the San Francisco 49ers, and right now they're mired in a "LaMichael James or Jewel Hampton?" controversy that's pitting brother against brother, sister against sister.
You have other options, other ways to spend your time. I don't want you to ignore baseball and leave -- I want him and him and her to leave, but not you -- but the Hall of Fame ballot is getting released today. Barry Bonds will be on it. So will Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mike Piazza, which doesn't help things. But Bonds is the focus here. He means things. Important things. He's a symbol of a something, a metaphor for whatever that was back there and stuff. And writers have opinions.
The weakest among you will get sucked into those opinions. You might even engage in Internet debates. We cannot save you. You will wake up in a Lion's Club with a blanket wrapped around you, muttering something about Jeff Bagwell.
The majority of you will read one or two of those opinions and realize that you were stupid for doing so. You will wake up with diarrhea and a dry mouth, but you'll be otherwise fine.
But if you develop a battle plan before this starts and stick to it, you'll come out the other side
Scenario #1: You read an inflammatory headline, like "Barry Bonds and the Decline of Morality", on the Internet
Solution: You're probably on a mainstream news site -- the digital home of a respected newspaper. Look around. Is there a link to something like "10 best fat busters for the holiday season" on there? Oh, good, you're definitely on a mainstream news site. Click that link, as it probably takes you to a partner site, far away from the actual newspaper. Follow the instructions, or watch the slideshow of firefighters rescuing animals. Now you're far away from the original article, and the temptation is gone.
Scenario #2: Your co-worker wants to explain to you why Bonds is bad and why you should feel bad
Solution: Engage him or her in a debate, but react like a post-homer Bonds with every response you give
Co-worker: cheating because of children not in my America
You: I don't want to justify what he did by saying 'Everyone else was doing it', but there was a culture of tolerance and blissful ignorance in the post-strike era that was complex. You can't reduce it to good/bad.
You: /pirouettes with fist in the air
Co-worker: Wait, why did you do that?
You: Felt like I nailed that answer. I was celebrating.
Co-worker: banned for life hall of shame lessons for children national pastime
You: My concern when it comes to the Steroid Era isn't with the players who broke records and made All-Star teams. It's with the players who would have otherwise never made a roster, but who took a 25-man spot from someone who refused to take performance-enhancing drugs. One guy risked his health, and now he'll get a pension and a stories about his major-league career. The other one will live a normal live -- as much as a guy can when he devotes his early- to mid-20s to a dream that doesn't come true --but he'll always wonder what the majors were like.
You: /drops one shoulder and slowly saunters around the co-worker, looking up in the air like he's absolutely disgusted that the sky exists
Co-worker: You're disrespectful. I'm leaving.
Scenario #3: You overhear people on TV or the bus talking about Bonds
Solution: Think back to this home run
Close your eyes and picture it. Think about what the fans are really cheering. The Giants were supposed to play in Tropicana Field that season. They were gone. The Tampa/St. Petersburg Giants were a done deal. A young Brandon Crawford was sad. When baseball started the next season, the Giants weren't gone, and they had the best player in baseball. The best player in baseball helped the Giants win.
The winning helped the Giants build their profile in the Bay Area, and it helped with the team's chances at a privately financed ballpark. The ballot measure passed by a two-thirds majority, so maybe it's a stretch to suggest that a perennially losing team wouldn't have swayed the voters, but I don't think Bonds's contributions were insignificant.
The only thing the park lacked was history. Bonds brought a pennant, two division titles, a single-season home-run record, and a career home-run record to the new park. That whole time, there were good, warm, fuzzy feelings about baseball in the Bay Area. There were sellout streaks that begat longer sellout streaks because baseball in the Bay Area was a thing. It was the kind of fan support that allowed the Giants to sign players like postseason hero Barry Zito.
And after the hammer dropped, and after the accusations and the evidence and the shame, those feelings weren't something you could pack up and donate to the Goodwill. They were coiled around your synapses and gray matter, an inextricable part of why you're a baseball fan. You understood it was a sad situation. You understood it was tricky, there were moral ambiguities and failings, and that something didn't feel quite right anymore. But you still couldn't help but root for the guy who made your passion and hobby a better experience than the one enjoyed by just about every other baseball fan in the world.
Then open your eyes. You're not as annoyed now.
Scenario #4: You're at a party, and there's a guy who keeps saying that Bonds shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame
Solution: Stab him