Update 8/7/2007 – Barry Bonds hits #756 to become the all-time home-run leader.
Well, the anticlimax has arrived – Barry Bonds hit #756 tonight. I think Sports Illustrated summed it up perfectly with this visual on their front-page:
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Barry Bonds has achieved an undeniably impressive milestone and proven that he is indeed a great home run hitter. It’s sad that his legacy (and baseball’s legacy) will be tainted by his involvement in the steroids scandal.
Original article appears below.
Here is the simple solution to the controversy surrounding Barry Bonds’ pursuit of Hank Aaron’s all-time home-run record in Major League Baseball:
Barry finally snaps his slump and hits number 755 to tie Aaron’s record.
Barry Bonds circles the bases, doffs his cap, waves to the crowd, smiles, and immediately retires from baseball.
Think about that for a moment. Love him or hate him, you know that if Bonds becomes the all-time home run leader in baseball it will be a bad thing for the sport. His “achievement” will cast a pall over baseball until A-Rod breaks his record. Does anyone want that? In this age of declining interest in baseball the last thing the sport needs is to have its most illustrious record held by a dickwad cheater like Bonds.
But, if he hits number 755 to tie and then walks off the field for the last time, he will immediately be embraced by everyone on all sides of the argument, including people who normally could not care less. It would be the classiest of classy gestures – getting number 755 to show that he *could* do it, but then voluntarily stopping short of being the sole, all-time home run leader.
And, quite frankly, as reprehensible as I find his (alleged) use of steroids, there’s no denying that any artificial help he got was merely to enhance his undeniable, god-given natural ability to hit the ball. Drugs don’t perfect a swing or refine an eye – Barry Bonds did that himself. Unfortunately he chose to juice himself up to make himself even better. But I think it would be fair for him to share the record with Hammering Hank Aaron.
Given the competitive nature that drives people to the levels of excellence requires for pro sports, I doubt this will happen. On top of that, given what I know about Barry Bonds’ ego and class, there’s an almost zero chance of it happening.
However, a man can dream. Can dream of Barry Bonds having enough class to not only stop the runaway train wreck that is his chase for the record, but to launch baseball back into being the classy, revered sport that America deserves.