The Bonds Rule
Baseball is an opportunity to share in Americana. When I walk into a ball park, no matter its size or location, the level of play, the age of participant, I feel better. I often wondered why. It is certainly, for enthusiasts and former practitioners, no matter how unskilled, a delight to watch a baseball game, where tension and excitement can be found or ignored at the spectator’s choice. But I have come to believe that finding one’s seat, or even before that, at the first glimpse of the infield, bestows upon such as I, a sense of good fortune unavailable any place else. Has it to do with the rest of the world’s state of disarray, or the impermanency of life, or the crumbling form of our nation’s institutions? It is not the buildings to which I refer, but the values that, it was thought, drove the public discourse and protected our historic trajectory as the world’s leading democracy.
Is it trite to remember Watergate and the banishment of Richard Nixon? And the revelations that followed with the Church and Pike Committees in the mid €˜70’s. Or was it simply my coming of age as a citizen with a brain and with interests and tastes that could be sated in the pages of a book? Whatever its origin, the realization that we are a profoundly flawed society, with a penchant for violence, dishonor, and hypocrisy that is quite breath-taking in some instances, burdens one’s daily assumptions in ways that can be temporarily overcome while seated on the splinter-filled wooden benches of a little league field or in a sky box.
It has to do with everything being in its place. Whatever bombastically bizarre ideas may find expression (see below) as the centuries of baseball play become millennia, it is doubtful that the pitcher’s mound will ever be located in a different place than where it is right now. And at the end of the inning, one team will disappear into their dugout and the other will take the field, picking up a glove left behind by an opposite number or not. Each game will produce a circumstance a little bit different than anything else you have ever seen, but the winner will have scored more runs; that is certain.
As opposed to some, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the damage that Barry Bonds has done to the game of baseball or to the minds or bodies of our children. I probably should, but we are all weak, imperfect entities, and I just love to watch him try to hit a baseball. Because I love the essence of baseball- can you get me out? Unfortunately, I am denied my pleasure in what would be the most intense distillation of that essence, by the rules of the game as we now know them. The opposing manager raises the dreaded four fingers. In the fourth inning. With a six run lead. And there formed in my brain, should it ever become important, Bruce Boche of the San Diego Padres bears the responsibility, the Bonds Rule.
An opposing team may walk an opposing player, or, if the blood is up and justice properly demands it, hit an opposing player once in any game; thereafter, that opposing player, upon being walked or hit a subsequent time, shall go to second base. Do we not, each of us somewhere in our stew of impulses, possess the desire for balance and harmony? Do we not innately want to right the wrong and correct the injustice? It is an abomination to steal from us, the besotted dreamers of lost causes, the hopers for no reason, the only chance we ever had to taste the diamond euphoria. Baseball at its best is the best against the best where all hangs in the balance. Should it not be our design to do, even what little we can, to create that perfection we seek, though we realize that, with Bonds, even the penalty of second base may, at times, be an insufficient prohibitor?.