Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hamm on Bonds

Can we talk about something else in baseball, please?

Let's agree that Barry Bonds is a dink. He's rude, bristly, unlikeable, smug, and boorish. He is also an unparalleled talent, a sure Hall-of-Famer, and a freak of nature even without performance-enhancing substances. I will jump right on the "crucify Bonds" bandwagon just as soon as anyone can demonstrate that steroids actually contribute to higher home run totals.

Yeah, you heard me right. Provide some A+B=C evidence and I'll get on board. We seem to be missing the fact that such evidence is entirely lacking. It's like the "missing link;" we just keep on theorizing, under the assumption that someone, somewhere down the line, will provide the evidence we have already decided is out there to be found.

Steroids and such things as Human Growth Hormone increase muscle mass and quicken recovery from injuries. That's it. Someone please explain how steroids do any of the following:

  • Improve hand-eye coordination
  • Study a pitcher's tendencies
  • Read the rotation of a pitch
  • Practice in the batting cage
  • Improve stance
  • Improve swinging form
  • Choose a pitch to swing at
  • Improve plate discipline
  • Get batters on base ahead of you
  • Wind the ball tighter
  • Shorten the distance to the outfield walls
  • Expand the league, watering down pitching talent
  • Coach and manage
  • Provide years of support from family and friends
  • Take you back in time and make you start practicing at age six
Hopefully, the appalling Jason Grimsley situation will get us talking about more than just home run hitters. When I was teaching Public Speaking at VCU (that's Virginia Commonwealth University for my fans on the Indian subcontinent), I had several baseball players talk to me about steroids, and their universal account was that pitchers on 'roids outnumber the hitters by a significant margin.

Why? Because strength increases velocity and faster healing increases durability. These young players told me that the Hulk isn't going to hit any home runs, and that his musclebound form restricts his speed on the basepaths and defensive agility. But even the wildest pitcher who throws 97 miles per hour due to increased muscle is going to be drafted high and paid a lot; they'll always think they can straighten out your mechanics.

I'm not saying legalize steroids, even though several of my young pitcher students argued that point with passion and youthful short-sightedness. But I'm trying to figure out where we all started assuming that the only thing you need to hit the ball farther is more muscle?


  • At 6/22/2006 10:02 AM , Blogger peter hamm said...

    Maybe if Barry wasn't such a jerk we'd stop complaining about him. Also... Raffy really is the one who hurt it for me the most.

    I'm finding I care less about baseball this year because of all of it.

    But... don't get me started on Ben's motorcycle/helmet fiasco... What a freakin' IDIOT!

  • At 6/22/2006 5:10 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    There are lots of jerks in baseball. And lots of steroid abusers. I hate Bonds for being a jerk far more than any 'roid use.

    Speaking of freakin' IDIOTS, now former BoSox pitcher Paxton Crawford is out, trying to get sympathy for his suspension by writing about drug use for ESPN Magazine. Jackhole. "I'm just a country boy," he explains. IDIOT!

  • At 6/22/2006 5:11 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Oh, and Rothleisberger is a moron. No helmet AND not licensed for a motorcycle.

  • At 6/24/2006 11:21 AM , Blogger F. T. Rea said...

    My intense dislike for Barry Bonds is based mostly on how he carries himself. He’s a sullen me-first guy who has used a team sport to get rich. In that he’s not rare, but he’s one of the most visible of that ilk today.

    However, Bonds’ indignant denials to do with steroids bother me more than his taking of them. After all, they weren’t banned until quite recently.

    No doubt, The Barry is one of the great all-time hitters. He used to be a decent outfielder, too. Now his defense is a joke. He seems to not even care to chase the ball, sometimes.

    If the question is, do steroids make a mediocre hitter into a good hitter, I say, no. Raw strength does not equal hitting power in baseball. But if a guy has the talent and skill to hit a baseball, strength can sure help him hit it harder.

    Can steroids change a guy with warning track power to a home run hitter? Yes, I think that’s likely. A beefed-up Brady Anderson's 50 HRs in 1996 would be my exhibit “A.”

    So, I’m saying that in a given season, maybe 10, or 15, or 20 of a juiced Bonds’ fly balls that would have been long outs, cleared walls.

  • At 6/24/2006 5:05 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Oh, there's no doubt that Barry Bonds is a complete jackhole. I don't argue that for a second. I root against him with glee. And I too have a hard time reconciling Brady Anderson's 50-homer season with the rest of his career. (Remember when 50 was a massive home run total? Those were good days. Good days.)
    I just feel that smaller parks, tighter baseballs, and thinner pitching are far more verifiable and plausile reasons than steroids for higher home run totals.

    Maybe, just maybe, a juiced Bonds has added to his home run total. But the porch in right field in San Francisco is responsible for more homers than 'roids.

    For the record, Bonds used to be a real threat on the basepaths, too.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home