It would have been easy to pick Mr. Vick as the winner of our Douchebag of the Week Award, but after watching Barry Bonds get within two home runs of the most hallowed record in sports, I had to pick him. I don’t like to get preachy on here too often, we tend to keep it light and fun, but I’ve held off on blasting Bonds for far too long. Besides, I might not get another chance before he breaks the all-time home run record and forever tarnishes baseball’s greatest achievement.
It was quite a week for Barry. Early on he was calling himself an “embarrassment” and said he shouldn’t even be playing – nice that he caught on, I’ve been saying that for years. Then yesterday he smashed two bombs against the Cubs, giving him 753 for his career, just two behind Hank Aaron’s all-time record. We can now safely assume that Bonds will hit is 754th, 755th and 756th home runs sometime in the next week or two, leaving him as baseball’s all-time home run king. With that said, it’s time to cut the crap and get down to the facts because I’m tired of analysts telling me I should be celebrating this achievement, while totally overlooking the big picture. Barry Bonds cheated his way to this record, plain and simple. Before 1999 he was a great player, probably headed to The Hall of Fame, and maybe the best all-around player of his era. But that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to be known as the best in the game, wanted to be celebrated the way McGwire and Sosa were at that time. He also wanted the money they were getting.
If you haven’t read “Game of Shadows,” you should, it is the finest piece of sports journalism I’ve ever come across. And in it you learn something shocking: Barry Bonds is not a bad guy because he cheated at baseball, he’s a bad guy who also cheated at baseball. More than anything the book reveals that Bonds is a waste of humanity. There is nothing in the book that suggests he ever does anything for anyone but himself. His family even takes a backseat to his own ambitions. Then, when things go badly for him, he blames the media, or the fans for his problems. Who can forget the famous scene from Spring Training one year when, with his son next to him, Bonds said the media was affecting the boy. Yeah Barry, and I’m sure your well-documented, and nearly constant, infidelity is doing wonders for the kid.
But back to the record. Bonds is nothing more than a common thief, stealing this record from Hank Aaron, one of the greatest players and greatest men to ever play baseball. This record isn’t about numbers, it is about talent, sacrifice and perseverance. All were traits Aaron had and Bonds has distorted. Aaron is one of the two or three greatest ever. He’s first all-time in home runs (755), RBIs (2,297), extra base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856), and is third in hits (3,771). He is also tied for most All-Star appearances with 24 and was the first ever member of the 3,000 hit, 500 home run club. What is amazing about Aaron is how long he sustained his greatness. He never hit more than 47 home runs, but is the only player to hit at least 30 in 15 seasons, and 20 in 20 seasons. He also holds the record for most consecutive season with 150 or more hits (17). Oh, and lest you think he was just a masher, he also won three Gold Gloves. He earned the record, taking it from arguably the greatest player of all-time (Babe Ruth) with a stretch of sustained excellence that has not and may never be equalled. Oh yeah, and he remained humble and carried himself with dignity the entire time. In my opinion, Bonds’ name doesn’t deserve to be next to Aaron’s on any list, let alone one denoting excellence.
Not only is Bonds taking this record from Aaron, he is robbing us all. Any fan who cares about or respects baseball should be outraged. We should all be enjoying a chase like this, not lamenting it. This record means something and if/when Bonds has it, it will represent a time when we were all duped. Bonds claims he was duped as well, saying he had no knowledge of ever using steroids. Well when he joined the Giants in 1993 he wore a size 10 1/2 shoe. He was 29-years-old and in males, your feet stop growing at 18. He now wears a size 13. Something tells me that even if he wasn’t aware of what was going on, he should have picked up on it. His hat size went from 7 1/8 to 7 1/4, despite the fact that during that time he also shaved his head. From 1986 to 1998 Bonds averaged a home run every 16.1 at-bats. Since turning 35 in 1999 he has averaged one every 8.9 at bats. If he had kept his pace of 16.1, he would have entered this season with 590 home runs, nowhere near Aaron’s record of 755. We all know what happened here, and it pisses me off that analysts and some fans in the Bay Area are actually imploring us to celebrate this man and his fraudulent achievement.
Some people have asked the question, “would you cheer if you were at the game where Bonds broke the record?” Absolutely not. I refuse to cheer for a man who cares nothing for the game I love and respect. Had he cared one bit about the game, or the fans who pay to watch him play, he would have left the game when this scandal broke. He would have quietly backed away and sat at home with his millions of dollars, and left the record book alone. But he didn’t. He chose to continue, not to glorify the game that has given him so much, but to pursue personal glory. I wouldn’t boo him though, he’s not worth it. I’d quietly stand up and head for concourse. I would refuse to give him the recognition he craves.
Where Aaron was (and is) the best the world of sports has to offer, Bonds is the worst. And, in the end, the record changing hands will not change that. But it will certainly be a sad day for America’s pastime when a gallant hero loses his record to a thief.