(Long Island, NY) The San Francisco Giants are coming to town this weekend for a three game series against the first-place New York Mets. An important set for many reasons. Unfortunately, the talk will be only about one player on the visiting team.
What should be considered a good rivalry will not garner any attention. Fans that go back a few years will remember the Giants as one of the New York National League teams that left the east coast for the west, thus giving the Mets a reason to exist. The Mets also adopted the old Giants interlocking ‘NY’ logo for their caps.
And this is also a series the Mets must win, if not sweep. Starting on Monday, they travel to Los Angeles, Arizona, and Philadelphia. When you’re playing at home versus a team that is not strong, you had better win if you want to remain on top of your division. Especially when your next three series’ are on the road against quality competition.
But the only thing that is going to be heard will be about the Giants’ slugging left-fielder, Barry Bonds, and the reaction from the New York crowd when he is announced. Imagine for one moment if Bonds didn’t hit home run number 715 last Sunday and was still tied with Babe Ruth coming to New York? It would have been even more of a ‘dog and pony’ show than it will already be.
It is sad that Bonds will receive the special treatment that the boo birds will undoubtedly give him. What happened to the days when you booed a player just because he was on the opposing team and always seemed to get that big hit to break your heart? But it seems that the crowds coming out to see Bonds at every park except for in San Francisco have taken it personally that he used performance enhancing drugs.
An interesting watch is the “Costas Now” television program on HBO this month. The topic of Bonds, baseball, and steroids are covered, with many interesting opinions. But the one that I took away from it was when Andy Van Slyke was interviewed. Currently the first base coach of the Detroit Tigers, Van Slyke was a productive outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2004, he was quoted as saying that Bonds was a steroid user because of his muscle gain. On the Costas show, Van Slyke admitted that he would have in fact used steroids while he was playing if he had the right connections. He was very candid about it and seemed to be honest in his statements.
How many other players would have answered that question truthfully? If they did, I’m sure that many of them would have said the same thing. Even in the ‘real world,’ not talking about sports. Go to your local gym and you probably know at least a handful of people that use steroids (or you suspect) that are doing it just to look good at the beach and/or bar. Factor in that these athletes are either playing for a roster spot, or a big raise, so is it any surprise that they are using these drugs?
Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means condoning or justifying it. But the guy or gal that starts chanting “juice monkey” when Bonds comes up should give it some thought.