Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Aaron-ing Things Out

Catching up on Sunday's LA Times, I find what is at-first a surprisingly astute article by the ever-questionable Bill Plaschke (who so loves ragging on Paul DePodesta because he's young and uses a computer), holding up Hank Aaron as the hero he is. After all, Aaron got thousands of hate mail letters when he broke Ruth's record. Imagine thinking you're so angry that an African-American man is going to break Ruth's record that you: 1) get pen, 2) get paper, 3) sit down, 4) write a letter fulminating with your hatred, 5) seal the letter in an envelope, 6) figure out Aaron's address, 7) mail the letter. How do you get through all the steps and not realize you're an ass? I mean, it was 1974!

So, it's fine Plaschke is on Aaron's side.

But, Plaschke being Plaschke, has to use Aaron to bludgeon Barry Bonds. He captures a vignette when Aaron is autographing photos from his playing days for kids. And Plaschke points out that the Aaron in the photos has no muscles. (Of course he should say no over-defined muscles, for a non-muscular 42-year-old wouldn't still be playing, let alone adding to his Major League record. And Aaron played in the days before much weight-training, too.)

Then Plaschke writes: "Bonds is all edges, tight smile, sharp movements, a bundle of bulges that seem pereptually on the verge of rage."

Let's take this accusation masked as description one phrase at a time. It seems impossible for one to be both "all edges" and a "bundle of bulges." As for the "tight smile," everyone wants to picture Bonds as joyless, and if he remains without a World Series ring, that image might stick, but when he does light up, he lights up--think of some of those post-game press conferences during his 73-homer season when he was holding one of his children. The "sharp movements" phrase is just silly--what's smoother and quicker than that swing of his?

Finally, there's "perpetually on the verge of rage." Well, Bonds might be on the verge of rage answering questions from Hack-schke in the clubhouse, but that doesn't mean he has a bad temper, that means he has good sense. Seriously, all Plaschke wants to do is turn him into a steroid-driven monster. But where are the incidents in Bonds' career like those in Albert Belle's or Milton Bradley's? There are none. Randy Johnson has done worse things before even throwing a pitch for the Yanks.

Somebody at the Times needs to tell Plaschke to stop trying to scare the children.

And, of course, as we leave MLK Day weekend (thank god no major department chain holds a white sale), it is possible that Plaschke has just come up with one more variation on the good-black man, bad-black man scenario. Aaron gets to be MLK, Bonds get to be Malcolm X. And to show how petty a sports reporter can be, the reason the two get categorized this way it simple: one will speak to Plaschke and one won't.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bashing Plaschke and playing the race card? Please!

5:45 PM  

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