Wednesday, March 23, 2005

So the Schiavo case continues to boil this morning. My guess is that Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nutjobs for Jesus, will pass something to get the feeding tube reinserted by dinnertime tonight--and some court will pull it back out tomorrow. Then it's off to the Supreme Court, and imagine the hair-raising spectacle that might result if the Supremes decline to intervene. Villagers with torches storming the hospital can't be ruled out.

It's been interesting cataloging the various ways the Schiavo case runs counter to what the wingnuts claim to believe on other issues--states' rights, "culture of life"--but somebody at Salon noted a good one this morning. The Bible says wives should be subservient to husbands, so why shouldn't Michael Schiavo's wishes be honored? Or doesn't that apply while waiting for the miraculous regeneration of a destroyed cerebral cortex? Maybe not. No other precedent seems to.

Elsewhere, there's been another nauseating spectacle taking place the past 18 hours or so--baseball star Barry Bonds gave a weird press conference yesterday in which he announced he could miss half the upcoming season due to a knee injury, but also that he's tired, his family is tired, the media are a bunch of jerks who want him to jump off a bridge, and maybe he'll just hang it up entirely. As hard as it is to watch stories about Schiavo, it was almost as hard watching Bonds, leaning oddly on a crutch, demanding the cameras include his son in their shots, and whining about how hard his life is.

And he wonders why people don't like him. Even before his staggering hitting performances of the last several years (which some fans now believe are tainted by steroid use), Barry Bonds was one of the great stars of the game, and had been made wealthy beyond most people's capacity to dream as a result. It's true that the media and many fans don't like him, but much of that is his own fault. The fact is that the media and fans WANT to like successful pro athletes. Even though we're not as starry-eyed as fans used to be in the more heroic, pre-ESPN era, we still want to think sports stars are nice people who happen to have been given a gift we all wish we had. So if fans and the media come to dislike a guy, there's reason to believe the guy probably brought it on himself. And Bonds has been spectacularly rude to fans, reporters, and even to other teammates throughout much of his career.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have cameras pointed at you and questions shouted at you day in and day out. (ESPN has assigned a reporter solely to cover Bonds this season--an assignment you might want to think twice about before you begin to envy it.) But it goes with the territory, as the old saying goes. Bonds wanted to be a star, and he's been one for 18 or 19 major-league seasons. He's on the verge of breaking the most famous record in sports--the career record for home runs. What's happened to him in recent years isn't new. It's different, maybe, but not new.

One thing we can guess: Barry Bonds won't retire, not while the home-run record is still out there, because the possessor of the biggest bat in baseball also possesses its biggest ego. In the end, the press conference yesterday was not about his injury or his family, but his ego. After all--if he hates talking to the media so much, why was he out there yesterday?

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