Baseball, politics have busy night

Published 11:25 pm Thursday, August 9, 2007

As Barry Bonds waited on deck in the bottom of the fifth inning in Giants stadium Tuesday night, Adams County election officials were busy printing out long rolls of vote tabulations and pasting them to the courthouse walls.

Hundreds and hundreds of miles away, two seemingly unrelated dramas were reaching the culmination of their long drawn out soap operas.

If you were up into the wee hours that night, you had the opportunity to witness the climax of both events.

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It was a long night for both baseball fans and voters Tuesday night. While waiting on election returns to trickle into the newsroom, I had a chance to look at the television screen and watch a little of what was unfolding in San Francisco.

Catching occasional glimpses of the action, I had a few moments to reflect on the day’s events.

I have always thought that sports was a microscopic version of the world in which we live — that the values embodied in the way we play our sports somehow mirrored how we live our lives.

I grew up with sports flicks like “The Natural” and “Field of Dreams,” two movies that embodied the purest ideals of baseball.

The last scene of “The Natural” where Robert Redford’s character sails a home run ball into the stadium lights sending sparks onto the field may have been over-the-top, but still remains one of my favorite sports movie scenes.

I have seen it many times and each time I have left feeling uplifted and soaring — two things I didn’t feel Tuesday night as I watched Bond’s ball soar into the right-field stands.

When Bonds hit No. 756, flash bulbs popped and fireworks streamed into the air. At least 43,000 baseball fans filling Giants stadium and many others watching across the country stood up and cheered putting an exclamation point on a record that lasted 33 years. More importantly though, they exclaimed to the whole world of baseball that the rules no longer matter.

Since 2003, Bonds has been a key figure in a steroids scandal, though he has never failed a test for the drug. He is also under investigation for perjury to a federal grand jury, but has yet to be indicted.

Bonds trip around the bases Tuesday night literally rewrote how the game will forever be played.

“Whatever it takes” — that is the new rule of the game.

And all the while a similar drama was unfolding in the Adams County Courthouse.

As the votes trickled in Tuesday night, it became clear that Binkey Vines, a man who has pleaded guilty to taking money out of the pockets of every man, woman and child in the county, would head into a runoff. Almost 9,000 votes were counted Tuesday night. And in the end 2,375 votes would push Vines into the lead.

Despite a guilty plea and a 13-count grand jury indictment, a sizable chunk of voters voiced their opinion Tuesday night.

Some said it was a vote of forgiveness, others say Vines was wrongly accused.

For me, the vote exclaimed loudly the same message that emanated from Giants Stadium — “Whatever it takes.”

For Bonds, his record setting feat will quickly recede into the pages of time. Only history will have the final say as to how he and his record will be viewed.

As for Vines, Adams County voters are not as lucky.

Sitting in the circuit courtroom Thursday afternoon, it became evident that trends showed Vines lead would probably widen once all absentee and affidavits votes were counted.

By all accounts Vines will meet in a runoff Aug. 28 against either Eddie Walker or Donnie Holloway.

Vines has proven before there are many tricks up his campaign sleeve and if he pulls a winning rabbit out of his hat, county residents will have to endure four more years of “Whatever it takes.”

Ben Hillyer is the web editor at The Natchez Democrat.