Pop Culture Junkette

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Barry Bonds should take some English and history courses

This interview with Barry Bonds makes me wonder whether he was too busy playing baseball in his formative years to learn the meaning of the word "never," or some basic baseball history.

In the interview, Bonds is complaining because his 756th home run baseball--the ball he hit to break Hank Aaron's record for most career home runs--will be branded with an asterisk before being sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Fashion designer Mark Ecko purchased the ball at an auction and then had an online vote to determine what should be done with the ball (the three options were send it to Cooperstown as is, brand it with an asterisk and send it to Cooperstown, or send it into outer space). The winning vote was to brand it with an asterisk.

Why? Because many fans feel Bonds' record is tainted by the fact that he used steroids at some point in his playoff career. Yes, fact. Because Bonds has admitted he did so, but said that he didn't do so "knowingly."

Bonds' response to this is that there "is no such thing as an asterisk in baseball." Actually, Barry, there is. The reason the asterisk is the symbol of choice here isn't random. It's because when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record for most home runs in a season, the record books contained an asterisk next to his record, with the explanation that Ruth hit one fewer home run but when he played the season was shorter. This is pretty common knowledge for most baseball fans, and I would guess many non-baseball fans are aware of it as well. ETA: Isaac has informed me I am wrong about this (see his comment). So I apologize--apparently there are no asterisks in baseball. There are just asterisks in baseball movies directed by Billy Crystal. Regardless, my point below still stands.

And then there is the consequence of the Hall of Fame displaying the asterisk-emblazoned ball, according to Barry: he won't attend his own Hall of Fame induction. In fact, he says "I will never be in the Hall of Fame. Never. Barry Bonds will not be there."

Except...maybe never doesn't mean, well, never? He says "That's my emotions now. That's how I feel now. When I decide to retire five years from now, we'll see where they are at that moment. We'll see where they are at that time, and maybe I'll reconsider."

According to The Random House Unabridged Dictionary, the definition of never is:

1. not ever; at no time: Such an idea never occurred to me.
2. not at all; absolutely not: never mind; This will never do.
3. to no extent or degree: He was never the wiser for his experience.

Sounds pretty absolute to me. Note that there is no definition that says "not right now, but maybe some day." Of course, Barry will soon have a lot of time on his hands, so hopefully he can attend some classes at a local university.



Blogger Isaac, your bartender said...

I hate to prove red fraggle wrong, but there never was an asterisk regarding the single season HR record. While often referred to as an asterisk, what Commissioner Ford Frick (an old friend of Ruth's) did in 1961 was to separate the records for 154 game season and 162 game season; because Maris took more games to beat the Babe, he was listed separately. I believe it was Fay Vincent who abolished this distinction from the official record books in the 1990s.

11/05/2007 10:06 AM  
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