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I love Barry Bonds. I always have. He was a rookie the year I started collecting baseball cards, and he started winning Most Valuable Player Awards around the time I was truly beginning to understand baseball.
If he had never used performance enhancing drugs, starting in 1999, and had faded out naturally in 2002 or 2003, we would remember him as one of the top 10 baseball players of all time. As far as I am concerned, even taking the performance enhancing drugs into account, I consider him to be one of the top five hitters of all time.
That said, I also had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The ceremony is an extraordinarily long affair in part because each living Hall of Famer in attendance is introduced to the crowd one-by-one by am emcee, followed by the honorees and then the inductees.
At this year's ceremony, Andre Dawson, the sole player being inducted, received a raucous ovation from the Cubs and Expos fans in attendance. Whitey Herzog, who had been elected as a manager, received a rather substantial ovation from the Cardinals fans in attendance.
But both of those ovations paled in comparison to the immediate and protracted standing ovation that greeted Hank Aaron when his name was announced. Aaron was almost embarrassed by the attention, and had to motion for the crowd to settle down which, after more than a few moments had passed, we finally did.
Just seeing Hank Aaron on that stage against that Hall of Fame backdrop reminded us of everything that was good about the game of baseball, both on the field and off it.
It was at that moment that I knew that Barry Lamar Bonds would never ever be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.