Baseball is known as the American pastime. Opening day, for some, is the best day of the year. It is described as “Baseball’s New Year” by commentator Jon Miller, and for some it is just as big a party.
Baseball is known as being one of the most pure things in the world. Kids from age 5 until 95 enjoy the sport. Kids in 1908 could catch a game, just as kids from 2008 are able to now. It survives and transcends decades, and now centuries, and always will. It is filled with lore and legend alike. It has more history and icons than the country which so enjoys it.
A quote from the movie Field of Dreams spewed by a character named Terence Mann says “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again, but baseball has marked the time. This field, this game; it's a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.” There are certain issues brought up today by certain players which give the most wonderful and poetically lending game a black eye. Hopefully the game will straighten itself out and remind us all of what was once good and could be again, as Mann lends us to believe.
Legends, and heroes alike, including, but not limited to, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Willie Mays will never go away. “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” a quote from none other than The Sandlot, never seemed more true.
In today’s game, we have future possible legends like Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, John Smoltz, Ken Griffey, Jr., Chipper Jones, Vladamir Gurrero, and Greg Maddux, to name a few.
A name left off this list is Barry Bonds. He is no legend. A true legend, left off the first set of names is Hank Aaron. He doesn’t deserve to have his record broken by such a despicable and disrespectful representation of our beloved game.
There’s a saying that came about circa 2006 or 2007 that says “755 Home runs. Zero Steroids.” It’s a telling line which provokes much thought. Hammerin’ Hank had smashed 755 home runs without ever in his life taking a performance enhancing substance. He did it the right way, the natural way. Hard work and determination and perseverance were the path he took.
It also deserves note that he did so during the 60s and 70s when race wars were prominent and a light was shed upon any African American who was in a white’s world, as baseball was dominated by at the time. It was hard for Aaron to accomplish any task, especially one which he was so discriminated against because Babe Ruth, a Caucasian, held it at the time. Bonds had no such hardships.
Henry Louis Aaron had his record of hitting 755 home runs “broken” on August 7, 2007 by Barry Lamar Bonds. He hit a blast that traveled over 430 feet to left-center field off of Mike Bacsik, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, marking the 756 time he had done so, a new “record.”
“Records are made to be broken,” is a saying often used to reflect upon the passing of the metaphorical baton that is a record in sports. If Barry Bonds had in fact broken Aaron’s record fairly and justly, no one would have a problem with it. The “baton” would be his.
Bonds was projected to be one of the best players of all time. He is the only player to have stolen more than 500 bases (514) and hit upwards of 500 home runs (762*). In fact, he is actually the only one to reach the 400/400 plateau.
Additionally, Bonds holds records for walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688). He also leads all active players in RBI (1,996), on-base percentage (.444), runs (2,227), games (2,986), extra-base hits (1,440), at-bats per home run (12.92), and total bases (5,976). (Bonds is still considered active although he is a free agent at this time. He has yet to formally retire.)
Most of these stats should probably be asterisks laced. The reason being that no one would be afraid to pitch to Bonds had he not been a steroid ridden monster that crushed bombs. Had he not hit the ball the extra steroid laden 5 feet needed to clear a fielder to get the RBI, runs, on-base percentage point, extra-base hit, or more total bases. Had he not been juiced he wouldn’t have hit as many home runs, doubles, and triples, lowering the extra-base hits, total bases, runs, and at-bats per home run.
Barry Bonds could always hit. It is evident that he was one of the best hitters of his generation when he took home Rookie of the Year honors for his prowess with the lumber. His multiple All-Star game selections, MVP awards, and Silver Slugger awards also attest to that fact. Bonds most likely would have still hit nearly 600 round trippers and stolen just as many bases. “Best Player of All Time” like numbers that would have catapulted him into the Hall of Fame on a first ballot after his retirement.
Steroids don’t make a person hit better. They do, however, add power and injury resistance to a player which allowed Bonds an unfair advantage and immense muscle growth that is so evident today by looking at the monstrosity he has become and by his so called numbers. Aaron had no such advantages.
Bonds went from a meek frame of about 180 pounds to a gargantuan size of about 250 pounds in his later years. His cap, jersey, and shoe sizes all swelled incredibly. Getting bigger comes with age, that being said, no one grows at the rate he did nor gets better with age as his so called numbers supposedly show. Not unless human growth hormone is there to assist in the process...
Pete Rose, MLB all-time hits leader, when asked about steroid implications surrounding the slugger, said he didn’t know anything about that, but he’s never seen anyone get better as they got older. This question raises many more.
Barry Bonds allegedly took stanzonol, a synthetic anabolic steroid derived from testosterone, in addition to a host of other steroids. The book Game of Shadows by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, 2006, told the story on Bonds’ use of the aforementioned substances, all banned by Major League Baseball.
He was also involved in the BALCO scandal in 2003. His trainer worked for the laboratory and had been indicted by a federal grand jury for supplying athletes with performance enhancing drugs. He is quoted as saying he used a substance called “the clear,” or “the cream,” given to him by Greg Anderson, his trainer. He was supposedly told it was a nutritional supplement of flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, by Anderson.
Barry Bonds was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 15, 2007. A typographical error in court papers filed by Federal prosecutors wrongly alleged Bonds for testing positive for steroids in November 2001. A month earlier, he hit his single season record 73rd home run. The reference was meant to refer to a November 2000 test that had already been disclosed and reported at an earlier date.
The San Francisco Giants have formally removed all pieces of their park that have a Bonds reference in any way, shape, or form. They will, however, place a plaque where Bonds hit the record breaking home run. They have washed their hands of baseball’s biggest disgrace. Now the rest of the baseball world should too. Perhaps his inability to find a home for the 2008 campaign is a step towards that. Now all that’s left is the asterisk-ing of his “records” or their removal all together.
In a generation where kids need heroes, where can they look if the games best players are called out on a national stage for using performance enhancing drugs? People today should envy those growing up in the time when Hank Aaron broke the home run record. That’s a true hero. A true person to look up to. Not Barry Bonds. Not someone who cheated to get ahead, who falsely took what wasn’t his, who hasn’t earned most of the records he has broken. It’s not fair to the youth in America, nor the fans who have been watching the game for decades.
755 Home runs. Zero Steroids. That’s all that needs to be said.