Saturday, June 03, 2006

Artificially Flavored

When my wife and I first got married we did many things together like shop for groceries. On one of our first trips to the supermarket my assignment was to go to the dairy aisle and get one gallon of milk, one dozen eggs, and pack of American cheese. When I returned to the cart with my find... she stopped me and inspected my items. The milk and eggs went into the basket but not the cheese. She pointed to the label that read "cheese food" and said, "this is artificial cheese." I returned to the cheese bin and found the pack with the official dairy logo on it because artificial just won't do.

Barry Bonds has tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit ... maybe. For over a decade he has spurned the media and been antagonistic toward his own team mates. Under pressure he finally admitted to using "some" form of steroids that he didn't know was steriods at the time ... maybe.

This season when he took the field for the first time he received boos and someone threw a syringe onto the field at him. In stadiums across the country he was greeted with banners that read things like "Babe Ruth did it on beer and hotdogs, Hank Aaron did it with class, Bonds did it on drugs." Sad. Barry has entered into full damage control mode by being friendly to the media, taking extra time for the fans, and tearing up on ESPN in his own weekly PR show called Bonds On Bonds. Why, if I didn't know better I would think he was a preacher in trouble. Simply replace the inflated stats of home runs for inflated attendance and salvation decisions and you're on your way. Replace the steroids scandal with a sexual affair or worse and you've reached second base. Then make nice - nice with all the other preachers and camps you've ripped on, do nice things in the community that get you free, positive press, and maybe add a Swaggart style confession and you just crossed home plate.

Here's part of the truth in the Bonds story no one likes to admit. We (the fans) love watching the home run. We get caught up in the chase of a record. MLB itself looked the other way for over a decade as players like Sammy Sosa went from looking Tattoo on Fantasy Island to the Incredible Hulk. Steroids were padding the records which led to padding the attendance which in the end led to padding cash drawer. In short, Bonds - Sosa - McGwire made MLB and their teams money. Now, as we look back at the lesser known and forgotten players of two or three generations ago and realize what they accomplished without enhanced equipment, loaded bats, lighter balls, or performance boosting drugs we yell, "Foul!" Bottom line... we created the Bonds effect. We wanted entertainment - excitement - and a hero.

As we self righteously scorn preachers who are exposed in moral failure we need to take a look at ourselves. Who was the secretary that never said anything as a steady stream of young girls went into the molesting preachers office?

My wife is a nuse and a nutritionist. The reason she doesn't like cheese food, margarin, and equal... what's articial is not good. When stats are artificially enduced we have replaced the genuine ability of the athlete and the true Holy Spirit power of the preacher with a cheap immitation and in the end that's not good.


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