Well, it finally happened. For awhile there it felt like it may never happen, — or maybe that was just me hoping — that perhaps injuries, the feds, Bud Selig or fate itself would intervene calling an end to this travesty. For the longest time I was rooting for a freak knee injury in the outfield. The torn ligaments in his knee acting as a metaphor for the possible milestones he may have reached.
Yet, on Saturday he caught Aaron and thereby made it inevitable that 756 would come. When it would come was the only question and on Tuesday night it finally did. And so now the debate truly reaches a fever pitch as baseball writers and ESPN’s baseball analysts and sports columnists from here to the land of the rising sun will weigh in with their opinion.
Tainted…steroids…illegitimate…controversy…these are words that will accompany any and all discussions of the record now set by Bonds. You can’t ignore the facts: the bulked up body, his only season of 50 or more HRs being his single season record setting HR total of 73, the book “Game of Shadows”, the Mitchell investigation, etc. it all flows out agonizing baseball fans all over the map because they are left with nothing to do while the most sacred record of sports falls to someone who has obviously cheated.
And whether you like it or not Barry Bonds is the new HR king. I don’t like it if you couldn’t already tell. But it isn’t because of him cheating, if you think cheating isn’t a part of all sports then you’re an idiot. As long as there are sports and competition, there are going to be athletes who do all they can to better themselves than their peers. To me, it’s just a shame that fate and morality couldn’t intervene.
It seems wrong to me that a cheater gets to prosper. All through our youth you were told by parents and teachers that cheaters never prosper. Well now you can look at your parents and teachers dead in the eye and point to this and contradict everything they have said for decades.
And for as long as I’ve wanted to see them contradicted (don’t you just love arguing with parents and teachers? I did..) with a cheater that did prosper, it just doesn’t feel right does it? It’s not fair. Especially when there are players out there that have done it the right way — with pure talent and prodigious skill. Guys like Ken Griffey Jr. who has seen years stolen away from him by a rash of injuries in the prime of his career. It’s sickening to me. A great person like Griffey gets nothing while an asshole and a cheater like Bonds gets everything.
But there’s nothing we can do. Or is there? I don’t think the record should go down with an asterisk in record books because that’s just an awful thing to do. But we can all carry that asterisk in our minds and recognize whomever we want as the true HR king. And that is what I resolve to do. I want to see Ken Griffey Jr. stay healthy for 4 or 5 more years and ascend past Babe Ruth and fall somewhere in the 720s, I’ll be happy with that legacy for him. Then when Alex Rodriguez surges past Bonds’ 778 or whatever he finishes with I’ll rejoice and recognize a true HR king.