Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Reading Kamiya Even When He's Wrong Is a Perverse Pleasure, Much (I Suppose) Like the Perversion to Which Kamiya Confesses

And what he confesses is that the breaking of Hank Aaron's home run record by Barry Bonds will stroke his gonads with a velvet touch and he will explode with joy.

Ah. How well Kamiya writes, and any occasion on which he writes is an occasion of joy. (Full disclosure: Back in the day, Kamiya was in our fantasy baseball league, and we beat him like a drum -- mostly I beat him like a drum -- and he quit the league to spend more time with his family. Not that any of that factors in today. But truth will out, and if it won't, I'll out it. Harumph.)

Still, in all and in brief, I immediately nominate his essay as one of the Top Ten Sports Utterances of 2006, in spite of the fact its thesis is as creepy as a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

But oh so clever Kamiya he is. Read it yourself and wonder. I could quote and quote until I had stolen it all. But what actually interests me the most is, in fact, not one of the essay's most brilliant passages. It is a throwaway embeded in a brilliant passage:

(Sport is) not supposed to ... force you to confront the fact that you are a moral relativist, a hypocrite, a proto-fascist, and, not to put too fine a point on it, a lying, self-serving sack of shit.

But that's what the Barry Bonds saga has done to us Giants fans. (OK, there may be a few who have rejected Barry, but I don't know any.) Sports has turned us into a horde of Mark Foleys, but with one big difference: We refuse to resign and remain defiantly in our hot tubs, wallowing in a sea of congressional pages. Me and Mr. Bonds -- we got a thang going on. We both know that it's wrong -- well, he doesn't, but I do -- but it's much too strong to let it go.

Could that be true? Do only a "few" Giants fans reject Barry? Will all of them drink the Kool Aid?

I didn't like him when I thought it was the talent talking, before the steroids. I am, of course, an A's fan, though we see eight Giants' games a year, and in my eyes he was like Jose Canseco, an execrable entertainment about whom my feelings at his moments of success were decidedly mixed. Also, my dislike was fed by accounts of his treatment of sportswriters, which reminded me of my own unpleasant experiences the dozen times I did stories that required my going into a baseball clubhouse.

But none of that matters. Here is the pebble we must cast into the stream of history. I was living in the South when Hank Aaron passed Ruth, and the bigots were out in force and it wasn't hard to choose sides. I don't care how big a Giants fan you are. Bonds doesn't have the right to have Aaron's record because occasionally sport is more than sport, just for the blink of an eye.

But Kamiya sure can write -- he could write about the phonebook and hold us riveted. And, God, our standards are low when it comes to writing about sports. So when someone rises out of that swamp, like some testosterone Birth of Venus ....

Attention must be paid, my friend. Attention must be paid.

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