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The assault on the all-time record for home runs is picking up a feverish pace by future baseball Hall of Famer Barry Bonds. As of June 6th, 2002 Bonds has hit 587 home runs, placing him now in fourth ahead of Frank Robinson on the all-time list. He is only trailing three others, one being his own godfather, Willie Mays. Bonds is trailing his godfather by 73 home runs, the exact number of home runs he hit last season to set the all time home runs in a season mark. He is currently tied for the major league lead with 20 home runs so far in the season with Sammy Sosa of Chicago. On the current pace that Bonds has been belting them over the wall, the all time record could fall in two and a half to three seasons. A record seen at the turn of the century and again in the seventies as unattainable, will come into focus as soon as the 2004-2005 season barring injury or retirement. At the current pace, Bonds would be past Mays by May of next year, leaving only Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron in his path to holding the two biggest records of all time. How has Bonds accomplished this feat?
Poor pitching is a factor. Expansion brought about new teams with pitchers not quite ready to throw at the major league level. It has also diluted the overall talent pool of pitchers due to taking good pitchers away from teams through expansion.
Colorado- Coors field has helped give Bonds prodigious numbers in that ballpark among others. The atmosphere is notorious for giving up home runs at a softball game pace.
San Diego- the most home runs off any team is San Diego.
Rawlings- the baseball manufacturer would deny it, but their tighter wound balls help make the baseball more lively when it makes contact with the bat.
Left –Hand hitter friendly ballparks. Bonds, a lefty, kills the ball in any direction, but when he is aiming at a 305-345 sign in right field (he pulls the ball to right) it is all just a matter of physics.
Genetics. Lastly, his family and his hard work ethics make Bonds the strong player he is. His approach at the plate has improved greatly since he came up in the Pirates organization. He is more patient and stronger than ever.
Keeping the injury bug away. Bonds has been virtually impervious to injury, and of course he has played with aches and pains many modern players would take time off for.
I am not suggesting Bonds is a saint. In fact, I would say he has one of the more abrasive attitudes in the game, from a fan and spectator perspective. However, he has worked to improve this image publicly, and it seems to be working. He has been subject to several commercial endorsements in the past few years, and guest appearances in movies which has brought out a nice guy image.
If you just happen to be hurling 90 MPH at him and he has a bat in hand-WATCH OUT! Go Barry! Until next time, “take ‘em up the middle!”

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Mike Piazza and Supermodels. Ok, this doesn’t sound like the first place to start an article on whether baseball is ready for openly gay players, but this is exactly what is being alleged. It appears that in a book due to come out later this month, “a superstar player in the New York media market is due to come out of the closet any day now. The player is seen around town frolicking with supermodels, only to boot his macho image. He in fact is gay.” The alleged writer is “Out” magazine editor, who says he and a yet unnamed athlete and he have been intimate for a few years now. Out magazine is a magazine geared for the gay and lesbian community. Now I ask myself, is baseball ready for openly gay players? The first issue to take on is what happens in the clubhouse after games. Do the other players feel comfortable taking a shower with the openly gay individual? Or being the 152 game roommate of an openly admitting homosexual person? The second thing that comes to mind is whether there is a precedent of openly gay athletes in other sports and why the differences might be less noticeable in those sports. Certainly figure skating and tennis come to mind. I do not mean to categorize these athletes as all being gay, we just happen to hear about their status and more readily accept it there. Why? There are other sports that have no hang-ups about their sexuality, and we are much more forgiving. Still others cite women athletes stating they are lesbian as a perfect example of how the public would greet this news. And for that matter is it news? I say this, the person was gay before he announced it, so does it make any difference to his roommate that he is now “on the record” as being gay? Would it ruin Mike Piazza’s macho status or endear him to people to discover he is gay? Actually, for what it is worth, Piazza denied flatly that he is gay. But he continued by saying he did not think baseball players would have a problem with someone pronouncing their sexual preference. His manager, Bobby Valentine stated he feels baseball is ready for openly gay players. Others feel Valentine is setting up a pre-emptive strike for his star player to eventually come out and admit he is homosexual. Again, I say it would neither help or harm a baseball player’s status to admit being gay, so long as the athlete continues to perform well on the field. Stay tuned as the saga continues.
I read a wonderfully written piece on Eric Gregg, who tendered his resignation with several other Umpires a few years ago, during the failed umpire walkout. He has yet to be re-hired and he is currently working as a bartender in Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia, pending his appeal of the resignation and his subsequent passing over by MLB when he asked to be taken back. He alleges he was not taken back due to his being obese. This will be a case worth watching as it bears the question should weight and health be a consideration for whether or not a person is passed over for a job. The case is due for review in Philadelphia later this year. Eric Gregg was one of the best National League Umpires to ever call a game and it saddens me to see the way a true baseball legend in the umpire ranks is being treated after giving them 21 great years of service.Until next time, “take ‘em up the middle!”

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