Monday, July 30, 2007
You're probably not going to like this post...
Sometime within the next few days, Barry Lamar Bonds will tie and then break the all-time Major League Baseball home-run record of 755, held since 1974 by Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves.
When that occurs, most baseball fans who live outside San Francisco (where Bonds has plied his trade since 1993) will scream bloody murder that Bonds' record should be taken away from him, because HE CHEATED.
To which I respectfully reply, so what? The hallowed halls of Cooperstown are FILLED with people who are alleged to have used corked bats, amphetamines, thrown illegal pitches like spitballs, or alleged to have used other means to scuff up baseballs. Hell, it's even been insinuated that the spectacular 1951 stretch run of the New York Giants that led to the playoff and the Bobby Thomson homer that won the pennant was the result of illegal sign-stealing by Giants personnel using binoculars.
As they say, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'! So, do NOT whine to me that Barry Bonds should be hated because he CHEATED, because it insults my intelligence and makes me angry.
On the other hand.......
Barry Bonds, unlike Hank Aaron, grew as the son of a good-but-could-have-been-greater ballplayer named Bobby Bonds in relative wealth in the Bay Area. He went to good schools, and was awarded a scholarship at Arizona State University, long thought of as a GREAT baseball school.
Unlike Aaron, who had to play in the Negro Leagues before he was signed by the Braves, Bonds, while talented enough to win three NL MVP awards by 1994, has, by all accounts, treated everyone not named Bonds like a piece of shit. His teammates, for the most part, barely tolerate him because of his self-absorption and his whining. He is, in short, the LAST player you would want to break this historic record and the LAST person you want as the public face of Major League Baseball.
The fact remains, however, that, even if EVERYTHING in the book, GAME OF SHADOWS, is true, Barry Bonds would NOT have used if it had not been for the fact that MLB executives, the MLB Players Association, and the media turned a blind eye to the fact that stars like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were apparently using performance-enhancing drugs, and breaking the single-season homer record while doing it. Hell it wasn't even ILLEGAL in MLB in the late 90s.
If no one in MLB cared then, why make the fuss now?
Because Bonds is widely perceived to be an asshole, that's why. Too bad, folks, he may well be all of that and more, but ask yourself this question: If it was THAT important to you, why didn't you as questions in 1998, when media-friendly McGwire and Sosa were in the homer race?
BECAUSE YOU LIKED THEM, THAT'S WHY.
See, I understand that Barry is hardly anyone's ideal as a human being, and I can understand those who grew up idolizing Hank Aaron (justifiably so, I might add) might be pissed off that this punk is going to break the record. From an intellectual standpoint, it's more honest not to want the record broken from THAT line of reason than the whines that Bonds is a cheater. That, I understand.
Two things: First, I have outlined why the cheating line falls on deaf ears here. Second, as Bonds himself has acknowledged, he won't have the record for 33 years as Aaron has, as Alex Rodriguez, at the tender age of 32, is about to hit his 500th homer in the next day or so. Barring injury, it's not a stretch to think that A-Rod will pass Bonds in the next 6-7 years. If that happens, good for everyone.
Finally, my point is this: it's OK to hate Barry for being a prick and a punk, just don't insult any of us by calling him a cheater.
He wasn't the first, and he sure as hell won't be the last.