Letters

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Even Bonds can't erase Ruth's legend

In response to Barry Bonds' ill-conceived assault on Babe Ruth the day after the All-Star Game, it is worth acknowledging that Mr. Bonds got at least one thing right. Yes, Barry, "in the baseball world, Babe Ruth is everything." And for good reason.

While Bonds may in fact surpass Ruth's lifetime home run mark, and rank as the all-time walks champion, to suggest that those feats are somehow capable of "wiping out" Ruth illustrates a complete disregard for the history and tradition of our national game, and its greatest player ... and star.

Recently, statistical comparisons of the two sluggers have raged in full sway, with virtually all concluding that Ruth is far and away the dominant player.

Mr. Bonds' ascent to national stardom was, by and large, tied to his record-setting assault on the single-season home run mark in 2001. Now, as today's most accomplished player, he continues to abuse his role as baseball's natural goodwill ambassador through an overt aloofness that turns off fans and players alike.

To the contrary, Ruth had to carry the "game's greatest star" mantle for most of his 22-year career, and did so in ways that endeared the Bambino to fans everywhere.

What Ruth accomplished was about more than simple statistics and between-the-lines splendor. He used his "game" and explosive persona to push baseball from the depths of the Black Sox scandal to the soaring heights of three-run homers, "The House That Ruth Built" and a spreading level of interest that quickly transformed baseball into our legitimate national pastime.

Babe Ruth epitomized the energy and spirit of America's Roaring Twenties. He was bigger than life, all about kids and hot dogs, and calling his shot and saving little Johnny, and slugging and throwing a baseball better than anyone before ... or since he broke on the scene with the Baltimore Orioles in 1914.

It's been 69 years since the Babe hung up his spikes, and yet he remains, as Barry Bonds so inadvertently put it, "everything" to the world of baseball.

Can Bonds "wipe out" Ruth? Not today, not forever.

Michael L. Gibbons Baltimore

Note: Gibbons is executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.

Leniency on Simon is hard to believe

When does an unprovoked attack on another human being with a deadly weapon become a misdemeanor? Apparently, the answer is: when you are a professional baseball player, standing in uniform in your dugout, and you get the sudden urge to clobber a person from behind with one of your bats!

If I were to hit another disarmed and innocent person with a club, a bat, or a two-by-four, from the back, in front of witnesses, I'd say that my being arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon would be a foregone conclusion.

I guess my lawyer could say that I was just having fun and didn't intend to hurt anyone. Would that get me off with a $432 fine if I apologized and gave the victim the autographed weapon? Probably not; because, alas, I'm only a retired nobody, not a professional sports figure. I'd likely end up behind bars.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' Randall Simon is a wonderful role model, setting such a good example for our sports-minded children to follow. I bet he's still having lots of laughs.

Go ahead, kids, have some fun, too. If your game gets boring ... bang someone over the head with a bat for a few laughs. It'll have people rolling over in the aisles, not to mention the person that you just hit.

Ron Parsons Glen Burnie

All-Star Game change another Selig mistake

When baseball decided that the winner of the All-Star Game would claim home-field advantage in the World Series, it was yet another screw-up by commissioner Bud Selig.

Yes, this year's All-Star Game had a thrilling ending and a competitive edge that wasn't there before, but something was missing. It didn't have the same flair, the same panache that baseball fans have become accustomed to seeing in the midsummer classic. Having something on the line, something to play for, was, in this particular situation, not needed.

Flamboyant plays, a relaxed atmosphere and good old All-Star fun were drained from this year's game because the ratings needed a boost.

You watch an All-Star Game to get away from normal baseball, to see incredible athletes make incredible plays, yet, with something to play for, it looked like just another game.

Selig made another wrong move with baseball's fans, and he better be careful because his next move could be his last.

Simon Landau Baltimore

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