Saturday, August 04, 2007
(posted by OMDQ)
(I'm warning you right now - there's a Goodfellas spoiler in one of the paragraphs below. Although frankly, if you haven't seen Goodfellas by now, you deserve to have it spoiled. Great movie.)
First of all, congratulations are in order for Alex Rodriguez, who finally silenced his critics today with a homerun in his first at-bat against Kyle Davies, the 500th of his career. Everyone is talking about A-Rod passing Barry Bonds for the career homerun record sometime within the next decade, but the column I absolutely can't wait for is the one that tries to explain how Rodriguez's career will turn out just like Jimmie Foxx's (previously the youngest man to 500, Foxx was pretty much done by his mid-thirties) . You know some eternal optimist is working on that as we speak.
With Rodriguez out of the way, the weight of the baseball world falls on the artificially enhanced shoulders of Barry Lamar Bonds (or, as Babes Love Baseball's Sooze likes to call him, Barry Lamar Cheaterface). Barry has been facing a ton of pressure lately, of course, but A-Rod's struggles in New York helped dull the harshness of the spotlight. Now that the Next Homerun King has turned the corner, we can all turn our full attention back to San Francisco.
I was driving home from work today when I heard about Rodriguez's homerun. The update guy on the radio made a joke that since they couldn't play the audio clip until the game was over, we could only guess that it sounded something like this: "[insert crappy John Sterling "Aaaaaaa-Bomb for Aaaaaaaa-Rod" homerun call here]".
This got me thinking. One of the interesting little side stories in this whole "Barry Bonds Homerun Chase" has been the question of how it will be called by whichever play-by-play announcer happens to draw the short straw and is on duty when the historic blast leaves the yard. Joe Buck would be terribly unexcited. Matt Vasgersian would not be pleased. Jon Miller would probably blow a gasket, which I honestly wouldn't mind because I like Jon Miller and think that whatever emotion he shows is genuine, not forced, which makes his work more than a lot of other announcers. But I digress.
I mentioned this topic because when I heard that John Sterling clip, inspiration struck and the perfect call for either of Bonds' next two homeruns popped into my head. I think a little light bulb even appeared in the air.
You know the scene in Goodfellas where Joe Pesci thinks he's about to become a made man, but instead gets a bullet to the back of his head as revenge for killing Billy Batts years earlier? We see the shot, the camera cuts away (to De Niro in the phone booth, I think), then back to the room, where two old Italian hitmen are standing over Pesci's body. The conversation between them goes something like this:
Old Italian Hit Man #1: And that's that.
Old Italian Hit Man #2: Yep, that's that.
That's it. That's the conversation. And you know what? It's an absolutely perfect homerun call for this situation. Personally, I don't mind the fact that Bonds is prettu much guaranteed to break the record. I long ago decided that it isn't worth getting all excited about. Yelling and screaming about it won't change a thing. So my personal plan is to watch when it happens, give my standard response to just about any milestone short of a Red Sox World Series win (standard response: "Cool. Good for him."), and move on with my life. When my kids ask me about Barry Bonds someday, I'll tell them what I saw and let them come to their own decisions about the morality of the situation and whatnot. By then, hopefully we'll have a clearer picture of the entire Steroid Era and what it means to the overall history of the game.
But for the rest of the world, the people who hate Barry Bonds for what he's done to the game of baseball and want to see him banned for life and thrown in prison, could there be a more perfect homerun call than to hear the play-by-play guy say mildly, "So that's that"? I don't think so. You're not dishonoring the moment any further by ripping on Bonds and his contributions to the game, protestations that in most cases come off as contrived and overly planned out (no pontificating from the soapbox, in other words). And you're not cheering blindly for something that happens on the field while ignoring other, more negative, sides to the issue. You're essentially saying, "How should you feel about this? Decide for yourselves." I like it.
So go ahead, play-by-play announcers of the world. Feel free to channel your inner Scorcese and use this call in the event you find yourself behind the microphone when Barry Bonds goes deep for number 756. Trust me, people will love it.