Monday, July 23, 2007

Scandal Season -or- Another Barry-centric Theory

There's a guy who hangs out around the 5th Avenue and 53rd Street subway station who I presume to be homeless. He's one of those indigent seeming types that has a racket, but his racket isn't the lucrative type, and I've never seen him ask for or receive any money. He tells jokes. For a while I thought that maybe he was just brilliant and crazy, loudly announcing any thoughts that came to his head. From this perspective, his thoughts were almost uniformly funny, always irreverent, but sometimes just crazy. What I realized today was that this perceived craziness probably has more to do with a lack of context than a singular vision. Whereas, previously I would hear a remark like, "when China sneezes, the world gets sick," and infer a fuzzed out and slightly out of focus thought process, I've now heard him fuck up one of his jokes, and can no longer deny that his shtick is totally rehearsed, even if he sometimes runs his jokes out of their logical progression.

What he does is basically, I like to think, read the days headlines from one of the town's free rags and then spend the day building up a routine riffing on the hot topics of the day. This evening he was riffing on Monday's most ignoble celebrities, Michael Vick and Tim Donaghy.

Maybe you know Vick: the most successful of NFL quarterbacks unable to throw a football who now has been indicted on charges of animal cruely, running a dogfighting ring from his house, where he and his buddies also are accused of having killed and tortured some dogs that one way or another lived through the fights. Which is a little more sinister and weird than what his peers have been getting in trouble for recently (probation violations relating to gun possession, fighting with strippers and such), and, as such, is earning more attention from the mainstream press.

Unless you're really a loser, or, you know, grew up with him or something, you probably didn't know Donaghy
until this weekend, when his name was released as the NBA referee involved in a point shaving scandal.

Meanwhile, the current leader of the Tour de France, Michael Rasmussen is being denounced as a user of performance enhancing drugs after failing to appear for mandatory drug testing, and lastly, Barry Bonds has come within two home runs of breaking Hank Aaron's career record.

Is it possible that Barry isn't behind this in some way? Yes. But it's much more fun to think otherwise. The Vick investigation has been simmering for months before the recent indictment, and doping is always part of cycling, I think (that seems to be what the cycling establishment wants casual sports fans to believe, so that their golden boy, Lance, doesn't lose any more of his American Hero facade than he already has through his messy divorce and prompt shacking up with whatever vaguely Hollywood related tramp was near at hand). But Donaghy, you get the feeling that Bonds was just trying to cover his bases: letting Vick take the sensational route, Rasmussen the intellectual, bike person faction, and then Barry sets up Donaghy to fill the niche of the true and actually kind of appalling scandal. There's no way there's room for Barry's story with all of that juicy shit on the editor's table. Barry breaks the record, it's buried somewhere in the third leaf of the sports page.

And, of course! It works perfectly for Barry. At this point he just wants to break this record, bask in the warm glowy love of the San Francisco fans, and forget that he ever applied the "clear" and the "cream" to his subsequently enormous body (let's not forget that he never necessarily took steroids, cause everyone knows that steroids are something you shoot into your butt [Sheffield, 2007]). He pictures himself sitting back in a rocking chair sipping Long Island Iced Teas and staring off into the distance, unconcerned with his legacy, unconcerned with baseball, forgetting that any of this ever happened. He has tainted baseball, baseball has tainted him, and at the end of the season, when the kids go off to school, they'll do what they've been meaning to do for a while now and file for divorce.

Or that's what he should do: use Vick, Donaghy, and Rasmussen as cover to get out while he still can. Run for the hills, run for the easy life ahead of him as a quiet, reclusive and at times nearly forgotten champion. Strangely enough, it's still easy to lose yourself in anonymity in the baseball universe as long as you don't 1) try to coach or 2) try to broadcast, and I don't see Barry showing much interest in either of those enterprises.

Still, he's probably going to play next year. Hopefully for the Yankees. Cause man, wouldn't that just beat all. Winter 2007-2008 sees the NBA crumble under the weight of greed and dishonesty, despite the Sisyphusian efforts of LeBron to keep the boat from falling into the volcano, the NFL lose relevance as all of its decent players end up in jail or Canada, and Hockey remain culturally irrelevant. And what do we have to look forward to come Spring? Barry in Bronx Bomber Blue, sticking that padded elbow back into the line of fire for old man Cashman. Kill me now, kill me now.

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