Barry Bonds and Major League Baseball's Home Run Record
To asterisk or not to asterisk, that is the question. Whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of frustrated sports writers. Okay, I'll stop. If it appears that I'm treating this situation cavalierly, you're right. I am. Not only is this the silliest of topics, if hypocrisy were dollars we'd all be rich.
We have an seemingly unending war in Iraq, 47 million children have no health insurance in this country, and tens of thousands of Katrina victims remain displaced. Is a baseball record really that big of a concern.
Now don't get me wrong, I am a baseball fan. Growing up I idolized Al Kaline, not only for his talents on the field, but also his class away from the ball park. To me he symbolized everything we should want in a professional athlete; talent, grace and integrity. But this fuss about Barry Bonds borders on hysteria.
The man hits a record setting home run and you'd think that global warming, Armageddon, and Paris Hilton winning the Nobel Prize for Literature were just over the horizon. Relax people. it isn't the end of the world. A baseball record was broken. They get broken every day. particularly baseball records (doesn't it seem that they keep track of everything?) I'm sure that if you looked hard enough someone just set a new baseball record for being the first 5 foot 8 inch second baseman to backhand a ground ball while the moon was in the third phase on an even numbered day.
And please spare me the integrity of the game arguments. Baseball had no policy on steroids at the time that Bonds is alleged to have taken them. Some, (see the St. Louis cardinals) actually had creatin and other substances sitting out openly in their lockers. No one said a word. Why? Could it be that baseball was coming off a strike that canceled the World Series? Of course.
Remember back to that time. The stands were half empty, pious sports writers were predicting the death of the national game (even though N.F.L. football had long since surpassed baseball as the national sport) and the owners were desperate for anything that would bring the fans back. So who cared? The answer is no one.
Now, all we hear about is the integrity of the game. He cheated, his record is diminished. Give me a break.
If (and it's a big if despite what the wannabe experts would have you believe) Bonds is guilty of taking an unbanned substance, what exactly is he guilty of? Do steroids help you hit a curve ball? No. Do steroids give you better eyesight, better hand eye co-ordination? No. In fact, all steroids do is allow the person to heal faster so that they can work out longer and harder. In other words, if you are not already a highly motivated athlete , steroids won't do a damn thing for you.
Besides, judging from Bonds statistics prior to any allegation, does anyone seriously argue that this man wasn't already one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform? If you do then you don't know much about baseball.
As for the allegation that Bonds cheated, let me just say, you have to be kidding. Gaylord Perry is a member of the Hall of Fame and he admits to cheating his entire career. For the uniniated, Mr. Perry was the master of the spit ball, an illegal pitch that gave the pitcher a tremendous advantage over the hitter. That's why it was illegal. Are his accomplishments tainted?
The very first man elected to the Hall of Fame, Ty Cobb killed a man. He was known to sharpen his spikes to intimidate infielders when stealing bases. Are his records tainted?
Babe Ruth, the man by which we judged all others, took banned and illegal substances throughout his career. I am referring to alcohol which was both banned by baseball and illegal throughout a portion of his playing days. Are his records tainted?
To answer my own questions, yes they are all tainted. Perry because he cheated, and Ruth and Cobb because they played in an era where only white men could play the game. Where would either of these men rank all time if black ball players had been allowed into the game? Certainly they would rank near the top (they were that good) but I suspect Hank Aaron might have broken Josh Gibson's home run record.
The bottom line is each era has its problems. Still, Ruth and Cobb were the best of their day. Aaron was the best of his day. Bonds is the best of his day. Someone will come along, break Bond's record and be considered the best of their day.
That's the nature of sports.
So please relax, give Bond's his due. His record will be broken, the sun will rise and in the final analysis, your life will go on pretty much as it is now.