Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Barry Bonds Hit 756 Home Runs

Barry Bonds is a dick. I need to acknowledge that immediately. But did he cheat? Were the substances Bonds is alleged (and I use alleged because I have no first hand knowledge of Bond’s private habits, yet I firmly believe Bonds used “performance-enhancing substances”) to have used when laying waste to major league pitching illegal when he used them? If not, then what’s your beef? Like just about every professional athlete, Bonds tried to gain a competitive edge whenever possible.

You want to find fault? Then take a look at Bud Selig, who’s the one man who could have outlawed the use of these substances before being pressured by Congress to do so. But Mr. Selig (and I’m sure the TV networks) were quite happy to see the great 1998 home run dance between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as they rejuvenated a moribund league still reeling from the 1994 strike. Take a look at the baseball owners who built many of the smaller parks that turned into home run bonanzas in the last 20 years.

Barry Bonds is a tremendous, tremendous baseball player who used rule changes (pitchers getting penalized more for throwing inside), at-the-time legal substances, a ridiculous hand-eye coordination, smaller parks, smaller strike zones, expansion (diluted pitching pool) to create the perfect storm for home run nirvana.

I don’t like Barry Bonds even a little bit – he’s surly, arrogant, selfish, deceitful – a punk in every sense of the word. My guess is Pete Rose and Ty Cobb shared many of those characteristics. But the guy has hit 756 home runs. It’s the most in major league history, and steroids or not, that is no small accomplishment. Don’t weep for Hank Aaron – my guess is, like Babe Ruth, his legend will only grow as the home run king who did things the right way.

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the all-time greats:

“We didn't use steroids because we didn't have them.” - Buck O'Neill

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