My roommate got his Sports Illustrated tonight. Of course, and what has been a popular topic this baseball season, someone had to rip on Barry Bonds.
Even the most casual fan has to know that San Franciscan Giant Barry Bonds is four home runs away from tying the greatest record of all of professional sports: the American baseball home run record. The Great Hank Aaron (and former Indianapolis Clown) still holds the record at 755.
Allegations have been lodged against Barry Bonds that he has cheated his way towards immortality. No one has ever questioned the legitimacy of Aaron's numbers. In addition the personality of the two could not be more different. Aaron is thought of as a total gentleman. Bonds the opposite.
This situation has gotten most baseball fans hot. Some have suggested that where ever Bonds' numbers end up an asterisk needs to follow. For some there is still only one true home run king: Hank Aaron himself (at least until A-Rod takes it for himself).
I have to admit I am not a huge Barry Bonds fan. But in a lot of ways he is getting a raw deal. The culture of cheating has always been in baseball. Whether it was the Black Sox in 1919, a corked bat here and there, the spitball, or the rampant drug use by ball players in the 70's baseball players have always done whatever it took to get the edge on the competition. Plus it is hypocritical for baseball to turn the blind eye now. You might recall that after 1994 (the cancellation of the World Series) baseball had quite a black eye. What brought people back? The long ball. The home run race between McGwire and Sosa the summer of 1999 captivated the US. Those Homeric numbers coming out of the players during the era was for one reason and one reason only: the players were putting out more juice than a Tropicana factory. And baseball knew it. And they didn't give a damn. There were buns in the seats and people cared about baseball again.
So if baseball knew and turned the blind eye--how can they now act as purists?
I am not defending Barry Bonds but honestly does the juice really increase bat speed? Does it increase coordination. And especially in light of baseball looking the other way, can you really blame him if he did juice?
For me there will be no asterisk by the home run record when Bonds passes it. I only wish that the Kid himself--Ken Griffey Jr.--had enough steam to over take the record.