HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

August 13, 2007

Here’s to hoping this is the end

By Jesse Menden

What are the odds that we won’t have to here about Barry Bonds and the home run record anymore? Unfortunately, the chances of that happening are almost zero.

I’m pretty sure there are hours and hours of court testimonies, investigations, and tests in the future of controversial slugger. In turn, the public will have to hear about it.

As a die hard baseball fan, I am almost ashamed to say that when I saw Bonds hit that record-breaking home run last week, I didn’t think anything of it. My reaction was pretty much like commissioner Bud Selig’s after the tying home run. He just stood up and watched. He didn’t clap or smile.

That was me. I saw it, and then continued on with what I was doing (which I’m pretty sure wasn’t that important).

I’m almost glad that it is over. I knew the day would come when I would have to write about Bonds breaking the career home run record, but I kept pushing it to the back of my mind.

So here is my last gasp, and hopefully I won’t have to write or think about it again.

The fact that I don’t really care that Bonds did break the record is an obvious sign of how I feel on the whole situation.

There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Bonds did cheat. His personal trainer, Greg Anderson, currently sits in jail because he does not want to testify about the situation. Oh, there is also that thouroughly-researched book called Game of Shadows that makes Bonds look more guilty than when a child gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

But they don’t call this the steroid era just because of Bonds. There were plenty of others cheating just like Bonds, perhaps in different degrees.

There are a couple of key differences, however. Those players aren’t breaking hallowed baseball records, and they don’t have heaps of circumstantial evidence saying they cheated.

So where does that leave the record? In my mind, 756 (and counting) is just a number and it really doesn’t stand for anything.

As the in-vougue saying goes, “it is what it is.”

Bonds is the new record holder, but that title is tainted and thus I think it should be ignored. Calling Bonds the home run record holder is like calling Queen Elizabeth the queen of England. It is true, but it’s just a title and has no clout.

The fact that a significant number of other players were also cheating during the Bonds era does bring up an interesting question, though. What about statistics they accrued during that dark period of baseball history? It would be unfair to put an asterisk behind just Bonds, and not others who appear almost as guilty (Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa).

That is why I will analyze those numbers as they are, just numbers. If people start putting asterisks behind names and numbers, where do we start and where do we stop? Comparing them to baseball legends like hammerin’ Hank Aaron would be unfair, anyways.

To me, 755 home runs is still the benchmark. That remarkable feat was achieved in a pure fashion, unlike the 757 Bonds hit through Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, what Bonds has done is still impressive. If he had two bionic arms and a bat the size of a tree trunk it would still be an accomplishment. But in no way should it be lumped in with or compared to Aaron’s mark.

So Bonds may have the most home runs all-time, but Aaron is still the king. And I hope this is the last time I hear, read, or write the name Bonds.