because I said so

    I know there are many people out there who would love for me to ramble on about something related to UCSD in this column. To you, I apologize.

    With the regular season winding down, I feel obligated to give my two cents on the happenings in Major League Baseball this year.

    Undoubtedly, the biggest story of the year involves Barry Bonds’ assault on Mark McGwire’s single-season home run mark of 70, a record that few believed would ever fall. Yes, I realize that Ichiro and the Mariners are big news, along with Rickey Henderson’s chase of Ty Cobb and 3,000 hits, but not as big as the number 70.

    First off, I have to say that I hate Barry Bonds. To me, he is nothing but an ego-driven jerk who chokes in the clutch. That being said, I have to respect what he is doing this year. He has been amazing in not only hitting home runs, but also helping his team win. Of his 69 home runs, 30 of them have either tied the game or have given his team the lead; impressive numbers for a guy who is not supposed to deliver in the clutch.

    Still, I would hesitate to call Bonds the premier power hitter of our generation. Not to take anything away from him, but just look at the stats: Prior to this season, Bonds had failed to even pass the 50-homer mark not exactly indicative of a great power hitter. Personally, I think that the title should go to Sammy Sosa, who is about to become the first person in history to hit 60-plus big flies in three consecutive seasons.

    To take that a step further, I wouldn’t even call Bonds the best power hitter of a single season, even if he does break the 70 mark. While some people scratch their heads at this logic, I simply point to the environment that Bonds hits in compared to that of McGwire. Bonds is hitting home runs in a park that was designed for him, with a short porch in right and a breeze usually blowing out. He also has the luxury of hitting homers in great hitters’ parks like Coors Field and Enron Field. Yes, Big Mac got to hit some homers at Coors, but new scheduling rules have Barry playing extra games in Colorado this year.

    Additionally, Bonds has the luxury of a team behind him. Players like Rich Aurilia, Jeff Kent, Andres Galarraga and J.T. Snow assure that Bonds gets pitches to hit. Big Mac hit 70 on his own. Edge: Big Mac.

    Aside from the whole home run chase, this has been a very exciting year in baseball. Alex Rodriguez was crowned the first quarter-billion dollar man, and has lived up to his paycheck — as much as a person can when making that kind of money — with a career year. A-Rod set a single-season record for most homers by a shortstop and is currently chasing the 50-home run plateau.

    An A-Rod-less Mariners team defied the odds to run away with the American League West and sport the best record in the majors. Contributions from Brett Boone, who is enjoying a career year, and rookie sensation Ichiro Suzuki have provided a huge spark for the Mariners.

    At week’s end, Ichiro set the single-season record for hits by a rookie and was sporting a batting average of .350. This is the feel-good team of the season and has once again proven that team solidarity can overcome just about all odds.

    In the National League, pennant fever is everywhere. Heading into last week, there were eight teams that had legitimate shots at making the playoffs. None of these teams were more of a sentimental favorite than the New York Mets, who rebounded from the World Trade Center attack and have been the hottest team in baseball since. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, the Mets were virtually eliminated by game-ending homers off of the bat of Brian Jordan.

    Personally, my team for the playoffs is going to be the Yankees. I have a new appreciation for the Bronx Bombers. After everything that has gone on in the past few weeks, I think that Yankee fans deserve this.

    This season has not only been about the young and upstart teams like the Mariners — a couple of old men have recently grabbed headlines with record chases and retirement announcements.

    Rickey Henderson will likely reach the 3,000-hit plateau and break Ty Cobbs’ all-time runs scored record this year. Entering Sunday, he only needed two hits and one run to tie the marks. This solidifies an already brilliant career for the first ballot Hall of Famer.

    Speaking of first ballot, two of baseball’s elder statesmen, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, have announced plans to retire after this season. Each has enjoyed a farewell tour that included ceremonies honoring them at every ballpark they visited.

    Well, those are my random ramblings about the year in Major League Baseball. Take from it what you will. If you don’t like it, then tough. This is my column and I will write about whatever I want to.

    Because I said so.

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