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schencka
America West and Barry Bonds
I had planned to be out of Tucson right now, but, as is typical with flying via jets, some how some way my plans were foiled by the great villain of aviation, America West Airlines. The devil's airline.

My 4 p.m. Delta direct flight to Salt Lake City was overbooked, so I didn't get on, as did some other people. Was given a $400 voucher, told to wait until 6:40 p.m. to fly to Phoenix, then connect to a flight going to Salt Lake. The Tucson to Phoenix flight was delayed, and the connecting flight was the last of the day. I was stranded in Sky Harbor Airport (I almost wrote, "Horror Airport"). There's a chance I didn't have to be stranded, because the other people going to Salt Lake got off the plane and bolted, but I had to take a piss and lost sight of them. The flight info TV said the last plane was gone, anyway.

So, I called my family and my wife Jess in Tucson, explaining the situation. I had to go to a different terminal to talk to a Delta representative, who was much nicer than the America Worst people (why believe in an organization that's shit in the first place, if you're their employee?). Like the AW people, he said that there wasn't a seat available to Salt Lake until Monday. Tomorrow.

So I paid $39 to ride a shuttle back to Tucson and got picked up by Jess. I got to bed at 3:30 a.m. And now tomorrow I have to take another shuttle to Phoenix, when the whole f'ing point of flying Delta was to get a direct flight from Tucson to Salt Lake.

I didn't feel violated or angry about the whole affair. I hammed it up with a UofA sorority-type who was sitting next to me in coach. And the dude that drove the van--John--I hope I get him again, despite the swerving. He reminds me of a New York City cabby, talking slowly, methodically, thoughtfully. A man at his job. I did, however, feel like a bit of a refugee in that Phoenix airport. I was just another semi-haggard looking middle class white person in need of a place to sleep.

Yet, there was an aspect of blessing in the affair. I have mentally connected Ty Cobb and Barry Bonds definitively. While I waited at the Tucson airport, I read a Sports Illustrated article about Bonds's steroid use. Well written, I think by the guy(s?) who wrote the book, as it were, on Bonds's usage.

Bonds and Cobb are brothers in their singular wills, which makes them tragic in their inability to win a championship but excel individually in a team sport. (Baseball is probably the team sport. One team essentially doesn't control when their offensive star even gets to bat.) The portrait of the SI article is one that reminds me of Episode III, because, if you compare the young Bonds to the late Bonds, his skull has actually grown--he now looks like a Neanderthal. The effect is Vaderesque: Bonds, seeking glory, becomes consumed by an evil--steroids--which allow superhuman abilities but make him more lonely and unhappy than he has ever been. The article is right--Bonds didn't smile when he hit a freakish 73 home runs. And as for his nearly instantaneous packing on of 20-25 pounds of muscle after the 1998 season, I know that it's only possible to put on about three pounds of muscle a month without artificial testosterone. Bonds was, and probably still is, a roid freak. He weighs 250 right now! My Pirates card of him says that he weighed 185. His baldness and acne are indicators.

Reading the article makes me realize that maybe, just maybe, it's not sensible for me to try to play football again. I weigh about 202-203. I need to be just as quick and twice as strong and weigh 230 or 240 to play linebacker.

The thing that roids do is give one's body a freakish ability to recover. Think about, why wouldn't a pro athlete dope? Why wouldn't a division one athlete? I know why I wouldn't: I enjoy, with some vivacity, normal sexual health, smooth and clear skin, and not blowing on people about insignificant stuff.

And the article is correct to point out that legal sports supplements are insignificant compared to steroids. The results have, I think, a 1:10 ratio, and with the roids, one needn't even have discipline regarding diet, regular weight training, even sleep. That's how a wild man like Jose Canseco won the 1988 MVP.

The body is, after all, a sort of scientific experiment. I like Bonds more that I realize his tragic character. But he's going to have to go pretty far to reach Cobbian proportions: Cobb, we know, died lonely, but his life was defined by Southern racism and the fact that he killed somebody. He is said to have shot a would-be robber dead. I might have some more Cobb/Bonds ideas to come.

But remember when Troy Percival tried to slip a 99-mph fastball on the inside part of the plate on Bonds in the Giants/Angels 2002 World Series? Bonds hit it into the stratosphere, 500 feet.

Just as Bob Dylan's 1965-1966 writing output made a airtight bid for the legalization of amphetamines, so too does Bonds unbelievable output after age 35 (!) make a bid for limited steroid use. --adam
 
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