With one swing of the bat, Jose Bautista sent his 27th baseball into the seats on Sunday.
With one swing of the bat, Bautista gave his Blue Jays a 5-4 lead over the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth inning.
And with one swing of the bat, Bautista instantly put one thought in my mind.
How quickly the word came to my mind took me by surprise. It was as if the word had become synonymous with Bautista. And why not? Bautista sends every 90 mph fastball over the fence like it’s batting practice.
He has come out of nowhere too. He has hit 81 homeruns in the last year and a half, and before that he hit just 74 homeruns in his six previous seasons. Guys don’t hit 13 homeruns one year and hit 54 the next. Guys don’t do that, unless…
I was convinced. There was no doubt about it. Bautista was as guilty as O.J. Simpson (the second time). But that’s when I came across a tweet from TTB’s very own John Russo:
Home runs = steroids? Thanks Barry for discrediting every good hitter who can hit the long ball and fueling stupid people
Did Russo just call me stupid? Swell guy, isn’t he? But more importantly, did Russo just read my mind? No, he didn’t. He just read my tweet; a tweet that read just one word after Bautista put the Jays over my Phils.
Is it possible that Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa have made me so paranoid that I now believe every fifty home run hitter is on the juice?
I’d like to think I am not that ignorant. I’d like to believe I labeled Bautista a juicer because he wasn’t a home run hitter before, but I know that’s not the reason. A quick glance at Baseball-Reference.com shows that the two greatest homerun hitters of all time, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth, struggled to hit the long ball early in their careers as well.
So if I’m not stupid, if I’m not paranoid, and if I don’t believe it’s because of his lack of consistency, why do I, like so many others, still think Bautista is a cheater?
It’s because I’m heart broken.
Finding out my child hood heroes cheated the game has made me afraid to love again, and I think that is why we are all so quick to accuse Bautista. We are scared of getting attached to another home run hitter, only to get our hearts broken once again. Instead of appreciating the talented hitter, we label him as a juicer in order to protect ourselves from disappointment. Bonds and McGuire have left an ugly scar on the game that we can’t get rid of. They left us with a horrible memory that we just can’t forget.
No matter where we go, we see the shadow that they have cast on the game, reminding us every day that any hitter can be on the bad stuff. Bautista can take ten drug tests and have all ten come out negative, and we still wouldn’t believe him. Thanks to Bonds, I think Bautista and every other exceptional home run hitter is a liar, and that’s just not fair. Bonds has made every long ball hitter guilty before proven innocent.
So, sorry Bautista, but this relationship will not work. It’s not you, it’s us. We’d like to tell ourselves we don’t believe you because you started hitting home runs out of nowhere, but that’s not the truth. We don’t believe you because we once believed Bonds, Sosa and McGuire, and you know how that turned out.
Maybe one day, who knows when, we can all be friends. But until then, only one word can cross my mind when I see, hear or think about you.
Check out Christian’s daily blog, “Taking the Ride.”