Giants Step Up All the Better Without Bonds

I love this photo, even though I’m not a San Fransisco Giants fan. Yeah, I know that there will be plenty said about the Giants winning the World Series after 56 years since their last title (won while still playing in New York), about the pitching, the timely hitting, about the managerial guts of Bruce Bochy (who got to the Series before while coaching the other San team, from Deigo), and other interesting and insightful anaylsis from well-qualified writers, pundits and plain old laymen like me. So one more blog post on the Giants victory will be just a burp in cyberspace most likely, and really, who cares why I love this photo (courtesy of Sports Illustrated, by the way)?

Well, I love this photo because I am a baseball fan, and to me this photo sums up everything that is good with the game. Teamwork. Perseverance. Timeliness. Strategy. Guts. No Barry Bonds.

That’s right. No Barry Bonds. I hate to bring poop to the party by merely mentioning his name, but the sweetest thing about watching these Giants rise to the title has been the utter absence of Barry Lamar Bonds. His cancerous approach to the game, from steroids to the me-first mentality that made him a hated teammate, was obviously not missed by this scrappy collection of pitchers and role-players who found chemistry in the clubhouse more important than chemistry in one’s buttocks (or knee, or wherever Bonds smeared “The Clear and the Cream” – and no, I don’t care that he seems to have recently been exonerated by court testimony that the Clear wasn’t considered illegal by MLB or the Feds when Bonds used it).

I know that Bonds still faces perjury charges from the Feds, and celebrating the rise of his former teammates while he faces his own potential demise is a bit cruel, and definitely some “get the speck out of your own eye first” schadenfreude of the highest degree. But when a person intentionally sets his mind to becoming bigger than the game (and in the case of Bonds’ head, that’s a literal statement) and achieves that distinction through cheating, then falls out of grace while remaining unrepentant, I don’t have a problem with being amused at the drop. And regardless of what the legalities may be, Bonds put things into his body to give himself a competetive edge, things that were on the periphery of acceptible, things that were at least to him questionable, given his lack of openness when asked about his training methods. There may be a lot of people unwiling to call that cheating, but it is in my book, at least when it comes to baseball.

So when the final out was recorded, and the Giants collectively bumrushed the field and celebrated something that really was worth celebrating – a team victory in a selfish age – it was a beautiful thing to imagine that somewhere Barry Bonds sat staring at the screen, then at his empty fingers. While his teammates get to slid on a gaudy, over-the-top World Champions ring that Bonds said was always his main goal, Bonds will get no such opportunity. Not now, not ever.

On Monday night, all of the Giants and their fans collectively shared in the joy of a title won the right way. And the one person to whom a title might have meant most of all sat at home, empty.

And that is as it should be. The team won. The me didn’t.