Friday, April 15, 2011

An Obstruction of Justice

It's my fault.

I could have prevented all this.

This has been bothering me, causing sleepless nights, since "the no-throw" happened at noon on August 12, 2007.

Here's the story.

I grew up in Atlanta.

I was there when Major League Baseball came to town. The Braves moved from Milwaukee in 1966, when I was 11.

In right field and batting third was #44 in your scorebook, #1 in your heart, Henry Aaron.

It was a great time. My folks would let me pack a tomato sandwich in a brown paper bag, give me $3, and put me and Bobby Spurlin on the bus to go to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to sit in the outfield and watch our hero.

Oh, those sweet supple wrists. My, how they could flick 33 ounces of ash wood and deliver enough kinetic energy to send a horsehide covered sphere over 400 feet in the air.

He was a natural.

He was a team guy.

He was, and is, an unsung American hero.

I love the man. How he lived. How he played. How he has carried himself on and off the field.

Nobody hated or hates Barry Bonds more than me. I admired his athletic ability, but always saw him as a selfish crybaby. Then he found "the juice".

He is the exact opposite of Hank Aaron.

And so in the summer of 2007, baseball found itself with a dilemma. Barry Bonds "broke" Hank Aaron's all-time homerun record on August 7. It had an asterisk then, and it always will.

It so happened that I was living in San Francisco that summer. After he had "broken" the record, tickets to Giants games became much easier to come by.

And so on Sunday, August 12, I packed up my daughter and the woman I had mistakenly gotten married to and off we went to AT&T Park to watch the Giants play the Pirates.

We got off the ferry, and I started talking to scalpers on the street. In ten minutes, I bought 3 seats at face value. Had no idea where the seats were. It didn't matter.

I was taking my little girl to a ballgame.

Section 137.

Guess where. Left field bleachers. Twelve rows up. Directly behind Barry Bonds. I could see the sweat running off his size 8 and half melon of a head.

Bonds had a pregame routine that I was unaware of.

He warmed up throwing to a coach standing just outside the left field line.

When warmup was over, Bonds turned around and threw the ball into the stands.

I still see it in slow motion.

A baseball just leaving the hand of the most hated, despicable player in baseball is headed in my direction.

The ball came down three seats to my right. The guy sitting there totally whiffed it.

I can still hear the ball whacking on the concrete, and bouncing into the air.

And then it lands. In my lap.

Never moved. Didn't reach for it. It landed in my friggin' lap.

This was a sign. This was a chance to right wrongs. This was a chance to do something for Hank.

The fans around were congratulating me on my luck. Little did they know my heart.

I stood up to throw the ball as hard as I could at the back of that swole up, steroid and garbage filled head. He was only 35 feet away.

As I was about to let it go, the woman that I had mistakenly married tackled me. She said it would be a travesty.

She was right. It was a travesty.

I could have gone to jail a hero. Bonds could still be in a coma.

I'm sorry, Hank. I'm sorry, Braves fans. I'm sorry, lovers of baseball.

It's my fault this dark cloud is still hanging around America's Game.

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