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"Tenth Inning" Brings Back (Bad) Memories

Boy, I was riding high yesterday. I was feeling so proud of the guys and already figuring out when our playoff games would start, figuring that I will get to use my NLDS tickets on Thursday, probably versus Atlanta. Then I was reminded how it could all slip away. I was watching Ken Burns' latest installment of his "Baseball" documentary, "The Tenth Inning". Aside from the fact that it lacks the magic of the 1st 9 innings it was also very painful to watch. The 1st thing that got to me was the fact that Doris Kearns Goodwin went from a pleasant looking older woman to a scary looking old lady. The 2nd was the original narrator passed away. Not that the new narrator was bad, it was just the 1st guy had the perfect voice for the film. I feel like the thing I loved about the original was that they talked about things I never got to see. I was able to see how much and how little the real "Beautiful Game" has changed.

That being said, the most painful thing of all was having to watch highlights of the 2002 World Series. One of my Dodger loving friends told me that it was a good thing they didn't win that Series, because it would have been tainted. Look, I have my own thoughts on Bonds. I'm not exactly what you would call a fan, but it doesn't make highlights of Game 6 any less of a sock to my gut. One of my favorite writers, Marcos Breton, was interviewed and said that for just a moment he let his mind wander. He imagined a parade down Market and imagined the title drought coming to a glorious end. I watched that game from Yerba Buena Gardens with about 5000 of my closest friends. (If you love the Giants you are a dear friend of mine whether we have met or not.) We were losing our minds. It was 5-0 and we could taste it. Then it happened. The guy standing in front of me whom I'd been talking to the entire game turned and said to me, "We're gonna do it!" I chuckled while saying, "hey man, don't say that." I chuckled, but I honestly wished he hadn't said it. That's when it started unraveling and I don't think I have to tell you what happened after that. I ran to my car so that I could shut the door and cry by myself. I cried hard, too. You would have thought someone in my family had died. In fact that was exactly how it felt. It was Game 6, but it didn't matter. You knew it was over. I'd be interested in your comments or emails on how that game affected you.

The documentary also helped me remember how much joy Bonds brought me. I had heard the rumors of Canseco and McGwire using steroids back in 1988. It made me mad that they won the World Series in 1989. Then I forgot about steroids for a while. It didn't re-surface until 1998. When Mark McGwire started his torrid pace towards Roger Maris' record, then was caught with Andro in his locker, I thought, "Jeez, if he lets us know about that, what else is he doing." I found out later he had been on steroids the whole time, but at the time I figured it was a case of him starting up again. I got mad when Bonds reached the 400/400 mark and wasn't getting talked about at all. Then Bonds betrayed me. He came to camp to camp huge. I knew exactly what was going on, but I pretended I didn't notice. I was able to keep rooting for the Giants based on the thought that the game was bigger than the players. I still believe that. Bonds was arrogant, not an easy to like guy to like. Plus, I'm relatively sure he ran Will Clark out of town. I tried to like him, but I never could. I rooted for him, though, that was for sure.

Then when the whole Balco thing broke open I cracked. I became an outspoken Bonds hater. I wanted him to retire and quit being a stain on my favorite team. I wanted to boo him out of town, but instead my fellow Giants fans started talking about witch hunts and making ridiculous statements about how he couldn't have used steroids, or that he would have hit homers like that even without them. Ridiculous. I remember when he broke the record I was at band practice and some guy walking his dog told me. That was how much it meant to me. I didn't even cancel practice to watch.

If anyone asks me who the all-time homerun king is I say Barry Bonds and that's because he is. Babe Ruth never had to face one Black or Latino player. Hank Aaron hit his homers in 4000 more at-bats and 7 more years. Roger Maris had 8 more games to break the record of 60 homers. A man on steroids set the single season record for homers and then another man on steroids broke it. Baseball is funny. If you wanted to break it down nearly every record has its caveat. People like Bob Costas want records changed because they want their generation to have witnessed the golden era of baseball. Every era of baseball was golden for its own reasons. They are also dark times as well. Racism, greenies, steroids. All terrible things, but if you start retracting records where does it stop? Daniel Okrent made a great point by saying that if you looked at the record books it still lists the Reds as the 1919 champs. It doesn't say, "the White Sox threw the series", or, "they probably shouldn't have won". A record is a record. Deal with it.

I have gotten wayyyyyyy off topic here. My point? We haven't won the division until we win the division.

(feel free to comment or email me directly at realisticgiantsfan@yahoo.com)


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