by Joshua Worley
I was ready to start making dire predictions about the Dodger season on the verge of being over until Luis Gonzalez hit his double down the line to drive in the flying buntsmen and tie last night's game. It wasn't the best hit double I've ever seen but it was very well placed and plenty clutch. Being well placed, in time, space, and circumstance is really the essence of being clutch, isn't it? Nomar's home run was also great, and it was certainly the better hit ball, but to me it wasn't the most important hit of the inning. Gonzalez's hit removed the pall that had settled over the Dodgers and my hopes for them.
Barry Bonds is no longer well placed in the baseball continuum. He used to be clutch just about every time up to the plate. Outs were miracles and pitchers like Mark Hendrickson didn't have a chance. Now Barry is just a regular home run hitter who walks more than the usual power hitter. Except as ordinary as he now is he's still hated and booed as if he were the devil himself come to hit homeruns and steal the soul of baseball and violate the hallowed records.
Why is Barry heckled and reviled in open public? We all know the answer. But there are many answers, many having nothing to do with juice. Consider, for a moment, who else we might reasonably suspect of using the juice. Think back to the men who were clutch, who were well placed in last night's win for the Dodgers. There are physiques and strange spikes in performance and injury histories enough to build a case of public suspicion. No real evidence, of course. And there never was against Bonds, until the investigations began and a book was written about it. Is there anyone on the Dodgers who can be glad he has never faced the same sort of scrutiny and investigation Bonds has, who can be glad he has been better placed than Bonds regarding steroid suspicion? I hope not. But realistically: 25 men. It's likely some of them deserve the same boos and derision that Bonds receives.
When I go to tonight's game, to watch the Dodgers play and watch Barry bat, I bet I'll boo Bonds at least once. I think it's inevitable. I just wonder, who else will I be booing at the same time? What Dodger, well placed in public opinion, might also implicitly receive that derision for using steroids? Or perhaps --- the booing of Bonds doesn't have much to do with steroids after all. Barry Bonds is an easily hated man outside of San Francisco, even without ever mentioning steroids. Why? I can begin to give reasons, but the entire picture eludes me.