Chasing the Babe

Welcome to the very first edition of “Words with Willits”, the forum in which I place my thoughts on sports in order to make room in my brain for such trivial functions such as breathing, moving and thinking.

You can expect this column to provide you with everything from the asinine to the serious, from Eastern Washington University to the pros and everything else in between.

Barry Bonds and the great home run chase

When Barry Bonds hits his next home run and ties for second all-time on the career home run list, George Herman “Babe” Ruth will roll over in his hot-dog-filled grave.

The Babe, while not double-fisting brews or downing ballpark franks, managed to send 714 balls over the outfield fences of stadiums all over America. Ruth earned his status as “The Sultan of Swat,” “The Colossus of Clout,” and “The Great Bambino” with his heroics. The Babe was one of the first five players inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame and will always be remembered in many fan’s hearts as one of the greatest players of all time.

Barry Bonds, however, will not be remembered so kindly.

Ever since steroids became a mainstream issue, Bonds has been at the center of attention. While Ruth captured hearts as the prototypical “everyday man,” Bonds will be remembered as “the BALCO-supplied-super-steroid man.” Unless Bonds suddenly admits that he did in fact use steroids, the debate over the validity of his statistics will continue. While Bonds’s place in history is a debate for another day, the contrast between Ruth and Bonds is no debate at all.

The two could not be so diverse.

Ruth was powered by polish sausages and a good cold beer. Bonds was powered by “the cream” and “the clear,” steroids he “unknowingly” used.

It had been said by some columnists that the public’s general disdain for Bonds’s pursuit of history is because Bonds is African-American, while the Babe was white. This, I say, is ridiculous.

In my mind, the only reason why I wish Bonds would not pass the Babe, or even Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755 for that matter, is that he represents to me everything that is wrong with the game. I believe Bonds knowingly did steroids. I believe Barry Bonds cheated. I believe Barry Bonds has no place in the record books. Barry Bonds’s race has no impact on my judgment on the man.

While the Babe will most certainly be passed over in the books, he will not be forgotten. Barry Bonds will not be forgotten either, but not for the same reasons.

Watching the Mariners play baseball is killing me

As a life-long Mariners fan, I have stuck with them through the thick and the thin, but this year is something else. One night, the M’s look great, the next, absolutely dreadful. While Felix Hernandez, the emerging power of Jose Lopez and the defense of Yuniesky Betancourt keep me glued to the television, not much else is easing the pain.

Adrian Beltre and his extra-large contract are hitting .218 with two home runs. Former Mariner third basemen who have more home runs than Beltre include Scott Spiezio, who has as many home runs (three) as he had base hits for the M’s in 2005. I just wish Beltre would pray to whatever baseball gods he believes in to cure his swing. And if he could just give some of that cure to Richie Sexson as well, that would be great.

The Bengals cut quarterback Craig Krenzel

While this may not seem significant for the average EWU sports fan, trust me, it is. When the Bengals cut the man who quarterbacked Ohio State to the National Championship in 2002, it left the Bengals with only three quarterbacks on their roster behind starter Carson Palmer: Anthony Wright, Doug Johnson and Eastern’s Erik Meyer. Meyer, currently in Cincinnati’s rookie mini-camp, will compete against both Wright and Johnson to back up Palmer.

Can it be time for Eastern basketball again?

If you aren’t excited for next year’s basketball season, you must not have a pulse. With only one senior, Deuce Smith, leaving the team, the future looks extremely bright. Next year’s objective: the NCAA tournament or bust. The fans are back, call them “the Reese Rowdies,” “Team Red” or whatever you want, but expect Reese Court to provide one of the best home court advantages yet again.