2007
07.21

In case you haven’t heard, Barry Bonds is about to break Major League Baseball’s all-time home run record.

Cue the collective yawn.

Ten years ago, if you had told me that the most hallowed record in perhaps all of professional sports would fall in my lifetime, I probably would’ve been pretty excited, and said something to the effect of, “Boy, I hope I get to see that!”

But now, a nation ignores an event that would be historic, but instead will be notorious.

In 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa ran down the single season home run record, and it was one of the most exciting sporting events of the decade because, as far as we knew, it was “pure”. The integrity, the beauty of the game was not yet tarnished by what we would later learn about what was really going on.

Now, of course, we know. We know all too well about the cream and the clear. We know about the syringes, the laboratories, the shady characters that look like thugs straight out of Grand Theft Auto. We have read leaked grand jury testimony; we have seen players lying and crying and evading questions in front of Congress. We have read detailed accounts of Bonds’ history and his drive, written by two reporters with little to gain and a lot to lose, whose sole motivation was not the almighty dollar, but the integrity of the game they love.

It’s a shame that the men who play that game don’t love it the way those two reporters did.

We learned that Barry Bonds made the decision to artificially catapult his statistical output to levels never before reached in baseball because he was indeed jealous of Sosa and McGwire’s fame, and he wanted to what they did, only bigger. It wasn’t greed that drove Bonds – he was already a Hall of Fame-level player at that time – it was vanity. This wasn’t some borderline major leaguer who needed that manufactured “boost” to get into the big leagues and buy his family’s way out of some Central American third world. This was a superstar who was jealous of the other stars of his sport, and wanted to upstage them all in the very worst way.

But the artificial fall of Hank Aaron’s home run record is not only to be blamed on Bonds. Indeed, the flow chart of culpability for this national embarrassment is a long and sorry one. Perhaps more than Bonds, the single biggest culprit is baseball commissioner Bud Selig; a man who is the first to jump in front of the limelight when the successes of his regime – interleague play, the wild card – are praised, but a man who claimed no knowledge of the cheating that has taken place, and the one man who has the power to stop it, even at this, the eleventh hour. Selig, as baseball’s top gun, has the authority to perform even the most severe of policing in the “Best Interest” clause, which enables the commissioner to take unilateral action to correct a problem if it is in the game’s best interests.

Even still, Selig sits idly by allowing this mockery to continue, hands shaking, voice cracking, epitomizing the spineless cowardice that will be his legacy. Selig could suspend Bonds indefinitely. He could see to it that Barry Bonds never gets a single at-bat the rest of his life, and never has the opportunity to sully the legacy of a great game even further than it already has been. But he won’t, because doing so only indicts him for his earlier miscues. Selig is too much a coward to ever confess a wrong like that.

Other players could’ve stepped in. Jose Canseco, a pariah in his own right, at least had the guts – regardless the motivation – to tell the truth about what he did, and what other players had done. McGwire could’ve told the truth, instead of cowering and crying like a baby in front of Congress and saying that he “doesn’t talk about the past.” Really, Mark? Not at all? So you don’t ever mention that you were a baseball player? That you hit 70 home runs one year? Never comes up?

Indeed, Barry Bonds is just the most visible (enlarged) figurehead of a shameful failure on the part of the stewards of this nation’s greatest game, but fault lies with so many more than just him. Much to his chagrin, all of this is so much bigger than Barry Bonds.

So now, as he approaches the dubious distinction he’s destined for, the truth is known. The reality of this non-accomplishment is clear, and can be seen in the fact that a nation largely ignores what is taking place.

And perhaps that’s the ultimate retribution against Bonds. Mr. Vanity himself, on the brink of the ultimate “greatness”, is booed by fans and ignored by the masses.

Savor that, baseball fans, for it may be the only justice we really get.

  1. I’m not a huge fan of baseball, I’m more of an american football fan. So pretty much, I understand very little of what you’re talking about… maybe that’s just because I’m beyond tired.

  2. [quote post=”1227″]So pretty much, I understand very little of what you’re talking about… [/quote]
    Don’t feel bad, I’m the same way with him, and we’ve known each other for a couple of years now. You know the saying, in one ear…

    I was listening to the Yankees game/s today and they were talking about how Alex Rodriguez’s balls were marked. At first, my ears tweaked a little, but apparently they’re marking his pitched balls until he hits 500. But what’s the purpose for marking ball #497? To say he almost hit it, but just not yet?

  3. What is up with some of the Yankees fans? You know I bear very little love for the Yankees or A-Rod, but the man is one of the great unjuiced played of all time and it seems like he is often treated like dirt. Why does that happen?

    As far as Bonds goes, they love him in San Francisco.

  4. I don’t like him because he’s not a clutch player, and he only seems to perform when his contract is coming up – a la this year. I think A-Rod overall is a media whore and a joke, a little too aware of his talent, and under the assumption that he’s so good that the team he plays for is much better for it. Except that the team he plays for seems to do better after he leaves instead of while he’s still there.

    And F-Bonds, in case I missed it.

  5. [quote post=”1227″]the team he plays for seems to do better after he leaves [/quote]

    Yeah, the Rangers sure have kicked ass the last four years.

    A-Rod is one of the best players ever to lace them up. The all-world season he’s having this year is the only reason the Yanks aren’t 15 games out right now instead of 8. Aside from Jeter, the rest of the team blows. That pitching staff is a $100 million joke.

    29 other teams in baseball would kill to take the “problem” A-Rod off your hands. I look forward to seeing how the Yanks attempt to fill that void next year.