Barry Bonds After 756: Beyond the Numbers
It is fact.
I should know, because I had the ultimate privilege of witnessing the feat in person. And for the record, there wasn't one part of the act that was fraudulent, illegitimate, or make-believe.
I just wish everyone else could be in on the fun.
Despite what most in the national media (and one Chicago-based blowhard in particular) will tell you, we fans in San Francisco aren't blind sheep. Our eyes are as wide open as anyone else's when it comes to Barry Bonds.
In fact, more so.
We've observed the BALCO story routinely make the front page in both of our major local newspapers for over four years, and we've heard ad nauseam the details of the leaked grand jury testimony later memorialized in Game of Shadows.
We've beheld with our own eyes the transformed body and the accelerated home run count, and we remember Barry's front-choking of Jeff Kent in the dugout, which may have been a prime-time episode of 'roid rage.
(Though, to be fair, that could just as easily have been an instance of Captain Mustache getting what he so, so richly deserves. But I digress.)
When you think about it, it does makes some sense: The national audience is constantly exposed to the uglier aspects of Bonds' career, but hasn't had the opportunity to appreciate his raw talents on a daily basis. If "756-plus" constitutes people's only lasting impression of Barry, it's understandable that they'd have a bitter taste in their mouths.
But the anti-Bonds crusade is also endemic of a larger problem in the game. If the saying "Records are meant to be broken" applies anywhere at all anymore, it's certainly not in the baseball world. It seems as though baseball traditionalists have a somewhat unhealthy attachment to numerical records, as though they were Platonic values of higher truth.
Willie Mays' career achievement isn't just "660"—it's hitting all those home runs while playing in the Polo Grounds and Candlestick Park, and establishing the all-time benchmark of a "five-tool player."
Babe Ruth's career achievement isn't just "714"—it's redefining the very idea of the home run, and compiling nearly 100 wins as a starting pitcher to boot.
Hank Aaron's career achievement isn't just "755"—it's stringing together the most mind-numbingly consistent career in history, and doing so in the face of a despicable tide of racism.
And Barry Bonds' career achievement isn't just "758-and-counting"; it's parlaying a prolific, Hall-of-Fame career based on a combination of speed and power into an "enhanced" career that vaulted him to a superhuman throne above all those who played in baseball's Steroid Era of 1986-2005.
If you can't bring yourself to celebrate the number 756 because of the probability of artificial enhancement, I can understand that. But that shouldn't in any way preclude you from celebrating Barry Bonds' overall achievements—as well as those of all who preceded him.
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