Sunday, May 22, 2005

ANOTHER "Curse Of The Bambino"?

If Bonds (right) looks skyward nowadays,
he might want to think hard about Ruth (left)

That Babe Ruth sure gets around, even some 57 years after his death.

Now that the Boston Red Sox have broken Ruth's curse by winning last year's World Series, the Babe has moved on. Now he apparently is haunting Barry Bonds.

Bonds, out with a bum knee, is recovering so slowly and making such little progress physically that there is talk, although in its infancy, that he may never play again.

Bonds, with 703 career homeruns, is 11 behind Ruth for second place behind Hank Aaron.

I don't think it would occur to me that Ruth's curse has shifted to Bonds if Barry wasn't such an apparent jerk. I have never met Bonds, but I have talked to people who have, along with reading, like everyone else, horror stories of Barry Bonds confrontations. Close Encounters Of The Rude Kind. If half of these tales are true, then Bonds is making Albert Belle look like Dale Carnegie.

Frankly, I don't know what Bonds' psyche is driven by, nor will anyone else ever know. Why someone with his talent who should have the world as his oyster is instead so surly and angry at the madding crowd is anyone's guess. But we can't all be nice folk, I suppose. And, I'm sure Bonds looks at the media as an evil that may not always be necessary. You get the impression that Barry Bonds would just as soon play ball in an empty stadium and live in a plastic bubble. Just keep the paychecks coming.

If Bonds is, indeed, finished as a player, it will be hard not to look skyward and wonder about Ruth's possible involvement from the afterlife. Or if not Ruth, then surely the baseball gods' fingerprints are all over this, aren't they? Because even if Bonds had surpassed Ruth, he'd still be about 40 homers away from overtaking Hammering Hank. If Bonds is done and Ruth, or at least Aaron, is safe from his slugging, I think you'd have better luck finding Ku Klux Klan sympathizers in Harlem than you would fans all broken up over the end of Bonds' onslaught.

Okay, maybe not to that extreme, but you get my drift. I'm sure there are mobs of Bonds fans in the Bay Area, but that might be about it. The BALCO steroid controversy pretty much shoved most Bonds fence-sitters away from him. Now, I think as far as Barry Bonds is concerned, that fence would be pretty much empty. You either love him or loathe him. The last ballplayer who performed near Bonds' level that was either on or off with fans was perhaps Reggie Jackson. But looking back on it, Jackson was cartoonish and innocent compared to Bonds, who carries with him a dark, almost sinister undercoating. Most of the photos I remember viewing of Reggie showed him smiling or laughing, even if he was smiling or laughing at someone. Bonds' images are mostly of him scowling.

Reggie was a cartoon; Bonds is more sinister

Maybe Babe isn't up there sticking needles into a Barry Bonds voodoo doll. Maybe the knee will respond and Bonds will be back on the field after the All-Star game, as is hoped by the Giants. Maybe this is all just a temporary roadblock to his eventual anointing as the game's all-time leader in homerun hitting.

But as the Red Sox franchise discovered, if Babe really is behind all this, then Bonds may as well kiss catching Ruth and Aaron goodbye. The Bambino did it to an entire city for 86 years. You think he can't do it to one man for a few?

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