Deep Left Field

By John Ring


The Zephyr, Galesburg



You didnÕt have to worry about not seeing Barry BondsÕ record breaking home run last week.

       Most Americans were asleep in bed when Bonds hit home run #756 that shattered the record formerly held by Hank Aaron since the GiantsÕ slugger connected in a game in the City by the Bay. But thanks to ESPN and several other cable outlets you got to watch it about 500 times--- and that was just from 7-9 in the morning.

       ItÕs all over now. Now more Barry Bonds-overdose.

       When Aaron hit #715 against Al Downing and the Dodgers, I watched it on television I wasnÕt a big Aaron fan but you had a sense of watching history especially when it came to baseball. I found out about BondsÕ home run on the internet the next morning. I didnÕt even bother to read the article.

       This is what it means to me--- itÕs a great achievement that was obviously tainted. IÕve never met Barry Bonds but from everything IÕve read and watched, heÕs not a very affable fellow. He even ripped Bob Costas a few weeks ago and Costas is one of the most knowledgeable baseball guys around.

       Bonds is Bonds. He is who he is. He doesnÕt care if you like him or not. So be it.

       When Babe Ruth was dying in a hospital in 1947, a group of kids gathered outside with flowers. ÒWe chipped in,Ó said one of them to a sportswriter.

       Can you imagine that today with Barry Bonds? Any kids who would do that would be forced to turn in their I-Pods or their copy of Madden 2008.


The NL Central

How bad is this division? MilwaukeeÕs #1, #2 and #3 starters havenÕt won a game in six weeks and they are still in 1st place. The Cubs have lost 7 out of 10 and are close to 1st place. And the Cardinals--- yes, the Cardinals--- are still below the .500 mark and are contenders. Whoever you are pulling full, donÕt even think Wild Card.


The Western Big 6

Streaks football coach Wes Olson talked about Galesburg High SchoolÕs enrollment when we sat down for an interview last week. GHS has the lowest numbers of any public school in the Western Big 6. ItÕs something that Silver Streak girls basketball coach Evan Massey has talked about as well. Their concerns are both authentic and accurate. The plain fact is it puts the Silver Streaks at a disadvantage, especially in terms of depth. In football, thatÕs huge when you factor in injuries and limiting players going both ways on defense and offense. Thirty years ago it was different. But thatÕs when GalesburgÕs population was higher, blue-collar jobs at factories were burgeoning and times were different. Aside from an economic turnaround (which is highly unlikely) the only way GHSÕ numbers are beefed up are to consolidate (or absorb) smaller schools in Knox County. That isnÕt imminent but could be a few years down the road and it doesnÕt matter about community and town pride. ItÕs a simple matter of economics, education and surviving.


OK is OK?

The Seattle Super Sonics are seriously looking at relocating to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma? ItÕs well known that the Sonics are struggling in the Great Northwest but moving them to Oklahoma? The post-Katrina transitional move from New Orleans to Oklahoma must have impressed the NBA and Sonics ownership. YouÕd have to think that some other venues should be looked at, especially where growth is booming in the US--- especially in the Southwest or Virginia. ItÕs hard to imagine rust-belt cities like Pittsburgh, Buffalo or Cincinnati becoming involved but all of them had either NBA or ABA franchises at one time or another. And what about St. Louis, San Diego or Kansas City?


The Detroit Jinx

The Cincinnati Bengals traded up to draft Penn StateÕs Ki-Jana Carter #1 in the 1995 NFL draft. In their first exhibition game that season in Detroit, CarterÕs knee was shattered on his fourth carry of the game and he was never the same. He finished 25th of the alltime list of rushers for the Bengals (747 yards), just behind Eric Bienemy and ahead of Fred Willis. In 2007, the Bengals drafted Kenny Irons in the 2nd round out of Alabama. On his third carry in the first preseason game in Detroit, his knee was shattered and he is out for the season.


Steve Stone

I love listening to Steve Stone on the radio. HeÕs one of the more prepared and professional broadcasters about baseball in the business. When he broadcasted for the Cubs on WGN with Thom Brennaman, it was an outstanding combination. Stone has the unique combination of being a student of the game and having played for some damn good baseball teams and for an outstanding manager in Earl Weaver. StoneÕs a class act. Catch him doing some White Sox telecasts on cable.


No Chief

I canÕt speak for other Fighting Illini fans but this season, the halftimes of both football and basketball games will be empty. ThereÕs a void that cannot be filled, an old friend that will be missed. An empty chair will be at the Reunion. There will no longer be a Chief Illiniwek. A tradition that was time-honored and impeccably performed has been stolen from us all. IÕm really sorry that some Native American activists were upset about it and that other guilt-ridden people caved in to take it away from us. It shouldnÕt have happened. It was wrong. A few people were pleased and thousands are cheated. It makes no sense at all. This was an egregious penalty forced upon the vast majority of Fighting Illini fans and Alumni that shouldnÕt have happened. The powers at large at the University of Illinois that forced this travesty upon us should be ashamed of themselves for having no backbone, fiber or values.