Baseball, Competition, and Loss of Perspective

It’s almost hard to know where to start on this but let me start with the incident that got me writing: Milton Bradley. Yesterday he got in a shouting match with the first base umpire, Mike Winters. Both First Base Coach Bobby Meecham and Manager Bud Black needed to restrain him as he appeared to be charging the umpire, which is absolutely never allowed. Milton claims that he and Mike exchanged escalating words that ended with the umpire calling him an “(expletive) piece of (expletive).” During Bud’s restraint Milton twisted his knee; we now know that he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and will be out for the rest of the season. This is a serious injury and would put him out for several months if the season were to continue. Milton, and a few of his fellow Padres, claim that he was provoked by the umpire and was justified in his reaction.

This is just unbelieveable. If Mike Winters did indeed use that language, I don’t condone it; but Milton Bradley has a long history of failing to control his temper and should know that he has far exceeded all the goodwill he is ever going to get. Had he held his temper in check he’d still be playing and the Padres would still have his bat. Now this has become a huge distraction at a time when the Padres are far from a lock for the playoffs. And yet nobody on the Padres seems to be saying that Milton screwed this up. He has played for Montreal, Cleveland, Oakland, Los Angeles and now San Diego. None of his former teams want him back. He has a great bat and could do wonderful things, but he will ultimately be a victim of his inability or unwillingness to control his temper. As a Padres fan I can only hope this was his last game as a Padre.

No baseball rant would be complete without talking about Barry Bonds. As it stands now he has 762 home runs and wants to return to baseball next year to reach 3000 hits (he’s at 2935 now). His team, the San Francisco Giants have announced that they do not intend to sign him next year. I wrote an entry on August 7th comparing his home runs to Hand Aaron and Babe Ruth. The table was essentially unreadable but it tried to show that he couldn’t have the home pattern without the help of steroids. Now that he has the record many of us are rooting for Alex Rodriguez to break Barry’s record. At the risk of doing the same damn thing, I’m going to attempt a table showing Alex’s progress againts Barry:

Barry Bonds Alex Rodriguez
1986: 16 1994: 0
1987: 25 1995: 5
1988: 24 1996: 36
1989: 19 1997: 23
1990: 33 1998: 42
1991: 25 1999: 42
1992: 34 2000: 41
1993: 46 2001: 52
1994: 37 2002: 57
1995: 33 2003: 47
1996: 42 2004: 36
1997: 40 2005: 48
1998: 37 2006: 35
1999: 34 2007: 52
2000: 49  
2001: 73  
2002: 46  
2003: 45  
2004: 45  
2005: 5  
2006: 26  
2007: 28  
Total: 762 Total: 516

According to this, A-Rod needs to average 31 home runs per season for the next 8 seasons to beat Barry. There are way too many variables, but I know that I will rejoice if Barry’s record is eclipsed.

I can’t help but think back to a panel discussion on ethics I heard several years ago. The panelists were role playing about a high school student who was considering cheating on a test because he felt he was disadvantaged and could cheat to make up for his disadvantage. One of the panelists indicated that if he wanted something so bad that he felt justified in cheating, he simply wanted it too much. I conclude this rant by saying that Milton Bradley wants to treated well too much and Barry Bonds wants to be the home run leader too much.

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