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Say it Ain't So, Barry, but Deep Down We All Knew This Day Would Come...

Nov 24, 2007
Back in 2001 in the spring and summer I worked a project that took me all over Northern California. Coming back home for the weekend the wife and I would often stop at the Cattleman's Restaurant in Livermore. We liked it because the atmosphere was cowboy and the food good and plentiful and there really aren't any steak houses in vegan Santa Cruz. On this particular August evening we were late getting in and the place had filled up. We were told it would be a half hour and we could wait at the bar and they would call us.

The bar was already pretty full and all the TVs were on the Giants game. I got a beer and the wife a bloody Mary. A steady stream of folks entered and asked the bartender 'when is he up?'

The bartender would answer next inning, third up or whatever the situation was. As Barry went on deck the bar suddenly began to fill and I realized the patrons had left their meals, purses, infants and whatever else and had come in to watch Barry.

As usual in the sport of baseball there was first a ball and strike and then a very loud crack and we could see the ball sail out of the park. Everybody jumped up, including me. We were high fiving and doing all the idiotic sorts of antics baseball fans do when their team hits a home run. This particular home run was one of a record setting 73 Barry hit that season. What excitement!

At that very moment the last thing any of us was thinking was 'golly gee, this home run won't count.' Had I mentioned that thought to anyone in the bar they would have thought I was nuts and not a prophet. Maybe even thrown a punch.

I have watched baseball for about 50 years but had never seen anything like Barry. The defensive shift to pull was like no other in the history of baseball. It was more like four outfielders and three infielders. During that time I also remember several times remarking that Barry at times looked stiff and almost waddled. His neck seemed especially stiff. I didn't know that his shoe size would increase over one whole size too.

Having read about his extensive training and nutrition program I immediately attributed his increase in bulk to training. Barry's off-season rigor was well publicized. I even once remarked that Barry was such a hard trainer he actually grew muscles on his scalp. Barry shaves his head so when he takes off his helmet he had what looked like muscles. Later we were to learn that he increased one whole head size.

But steroids weren't just what made Barry great as any minimally informed baseball fan will know. Barry hit that many home runs because he seldom swung at bad pitches. He walked more than any player in history. What was so incredibly amazing about his 2001 stretch was his average nightly box score would be a home run, a single and three walks. Repeatedly that season Barry was walked in situations that no other player had ever been walked.

Who can ever forget the home run race between McGuire, Sosa and Bonds? It had to be one of the most exciting times ever for baseball fans and for that we are thankful. Ironic how all three have been linked to juice...but not guilty until proven.

Barry was a competitor despite his unpolished character and arrogant demeanor. Barry always played to win and for that we thank him for his entertaining show. So now the greatest man to ever play the game has to wait and watch as he enters a no-win trial. I hope he gets off. Barry played to win and he did whatever it took to get that edge. And he knew other players were doing it. Barry just couldn't let them have the edge.

If he's guilty, and he may not be, slap him on the wrist, give him probation and let him age in peace. Barry has to live with Barry and we have to live with the letdown. Of course there will be those that want blood and those that want justice for all those records he robbed.

My guess at least some of Barry's home runs will be disallowed taking him back down below Hank and the Babe. Quite frankly whatever the commissioner decides is fair and just won't sit well with the fans. No matter what he does the boo birds will be following him around for some time. I wonder if he will also disallow the walks as well as home runs. No one wins here.

Say it ain't so, Barry. If you have to go down may as well go down in a blaze of glory. Do whatever it takes to make amends and get back on that field one last time. Let's not leave it like this...it's too personal.

And I know there will be a number of us standing and cheering once again when you do.
About the Author
Jack D. Deal is a longtime San Fraccisco Giants fan and the owner of Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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