Reaction To Bonds*

With one swing of the bat, the sanctity and cleanliness of sports’ most cherished record vanished. Like a cannonball, Barry Bonds 756th home run rocketed off his bat and fell into the sixth row of the right-center field bleachers at SBC Park in San Francisco. A whole-hearted applause from Giants fans followed, ignoring the outlined and well-documented steps Bonds took to reach this fateful day, and instead showered their hero with full appreciation and warmth. A dismal tribute from the previous and true home run king, Henry Aaron, followed on the big screen and more applause continued to shower Bonds from the stands. With his family and the only 40,000 baseball fans in the universe that geniunely love Barry Bonds beside him, he must have felt like the king of the world.
Vanished. Gone forever is Hank Aaron’s name from the top of the home run plateau. Gone is the mark of a man who endured daily death threats, racist remarks and overcame such obstacles only the great Jackie Robinson can relate to. Until one of baseball’s upper eschelon leaders has the testicular fortitude to put an asterisk on the table for discussion, it will be Barry Bonds name posing as an umbrella over Aaron at the top of the mountain. For people that watched Aaron play the game of baseball, he was the model of consistency and reliability. He played the game with proper fundamentals day in and day out with the utmost honesty and without the help of any doctored drug aid. Aaron wasn’t flashy or star material. Instead, he climbed the home run charts with class and focus. Baseball fans appreciated his accomplishments more and more as the years wore on.
The home run, anyone will say, is the most enjoyable play in baseball. The ball is smacked off the sweet spot of the wooden bat, a solid crack follows, and the high and long trajectory of the ball carries the stitched white circular object into the outfield stands, as an instant run or runs for the team is put on the scoreboard. In the early days of baseball, home runs were rare and not particulary taught. Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and other pre-1930s hitters focused more on smallball- bunting, hit and runs, smacking singles the opposite way, etc. On came Babe Ruth and the home run became the premiere play in the great game of baseball. The single season home run record was broken by a steroid user back in 1998. Now, since Tuesday night when the shot off Bonds’ bat fell into the hands of a lucky fan, the all-time home run record has been broken by a cheater.
Unknowingly or knowingly, Bonds used the cream and the clear. His head trainer, Greg Anderson, is in prison. He admitted in front of a grand jury he used steroids. Serious Bonds defenders can dodge the evidence all they please, but it’s common knowledge around this world that when your head size doubles in length and width, and when your home run totals begin escalating at an obscene number when you enter your late-30′s, something is fishy. When most of the star players of Bonds era were beginning their declines into retirement in 2001-2004, Bonds was breaking records by the game. Forget the home run records, Bonds was shattering all-time OPS records for an individual season. Fishy, indeed.
Bonds isn’t the lone person to blame in this steroid mess. The commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig, and his little cohorts at the top of the food chain are also to blame. When Selig dodges another steroid question, or forwards any judgement to individual fans, or when Selig ducks out of being in attendance when Bonds broke Aaron’s mark, the seed of guilt at the bottom of his stomach grows. Performance-enhancing solutions were entrenched in baseball since the 1970′s, but never had it reached such a high level as in the mid-90′s, when players like Jose Canseco were half-man, half-steroids. With the devestating strike of 1994 and the ensuing drops in attendance and overall hatred of baseball’s greed, the game was in shambles. Then McGwire came along. Sosa came along. The home run chase came along. All of a sudden, the entire country was enamored in the chase to break Roger Maris’s coveted home run record, and who can blame us? They were exciting times in baseball for us fans outside the front offices. Steroids were rampant, but steroids meant more home runs, and home runs meant higher attendance….which means the state of baseball becomes recognized and profits. Then Bonds came along. Attendance is up and up and up. While all of this was occuring, and while baseball fans enjoyed the chases, Selig and his friends turned the other way at the madness. They kept the widespread steroid use secret.
Innocent until proven guilty is a motto thrown around a lot in this country. In most instances, it’s true to its word and very useful. In the case of Barry Bonds, throw it out the window. He was either fortunate enough to dodge testing positive under a steroid test, or lucky enough to be under baseball’s provision and his tests were kept secret. Along with 50, 60 or 70% of baseball during what will now be known as the Steroid Era, Barry Bonds used steroids. He became the blue chip of the group. Before even indulging in performance-enhancing drugs, Barry Bonds was one of the most recognizable and best players in baseball. While the middling steroid users became known and earned some needed money, Bonds vaulted himself to annual all-star to legend. He, along with McGwire, Sosa and Canseco, are the poster boys of the Steroid Era because they are the best.
Should Barry Bonds be in the Hall of Fame? Probably. His numbers pre-steroids indicate he is worthy, and even though we cannot poinpoint exactly when he began using steroids, you have to think he’d carry on his Pirates and early Giants numbers onto a Hall of Fame ballot. But chicks dig the long ball, and the home run is the most noteworthy and cherished record in sports today. If Bonds is granted full honor of this record without any form of asterisk or identification of cheating, Hank Aaron is being royally screwed. He broke the record with his body and with his perserverance over years of pain and hostility. Bonds name and number may be at the top, but in the minds of baseball fans paying attention, Hank Aaron is still the home run king.

Categories: Barry Bonds Bonds/Steroids San Francisco Giants

17 Responses to “Reaction To Bonds*” Subscribe

  1. Dave B August 9, 2007 at 12:19 PM #

    Call me a bad fan, but i don't really care about this. It is a stupid record. I don't think of Bonds or Aaron when i think of a home run. I like to think of moments rather than numbers when thinking about history. If i was to think of the first thing that comes to mind when someone says home run i think of Aaron Boone, Carlton Fisk, and Bob Gibson before i think of Bonds or Aaron. It is just a number. If he juiced, he juiced. So did hundreds of others and none of them hit 757 homeruns. I hate Bonds for who he is, not what he has done.

  2. tinkerbell August 9, 2007 at 2:12 PM #

    Hello Giants, well just wanted to say to Barry Bonds–
    CONGRATS, I've been following your career, let me refraze that, I've been a SF Giants fan for over 20 years, ummm Will Clark and everyone (including you Bonds) are a good team. I moved to Mn some years ago, and sorry the Twins didn't do a thing for me. I'm a national girl i guess. Anyway B Bonds contrats, way to go, (think- don't do this) anyone gives you a hard time – give em the finger……….

  3. tinkerbell August 9, 2007 at 2:26 PM #

    ok, I'm confused here, Barry Bonds has done a thing that will go down in history, why is everyone giving him such a bad time about this? If he has taken something-oops-but than so has many Many MANY others, and they don't get put down. I personnally don't think he has, but than that's just my opinion.
    Still saying ***WAY TO GO BONDS***

  4. Evan Brunell August 9, 2007 at 4:20 PM #

    Why are people always forgetting one fact?
    BARRY BONDS ADMITTED TO USING STEROIDS. The only issue here is if he KNOWINGLY did. Every time people bring up Bonds and say "he used steroids, I know he did!" or "he's lying, he used" I automatically tune out because he's already admitted this! Why do you think the government's investigating him for perjury?
    Innocent until proven guilty, except for in this case? Bullsh*t. Innocent until proven guilty always.
    Mike Lowell put it best. Everyone thought the Duke players were "guilty as sin" … except they weren't. I'm affording Bonds the respect the Duke players didn't get.
    And guess what? Even if he did knowingly use, it doesn't change a thing, because the question of if he used has already been answered. And guess what else? He did it in an era when everyone used, so the record is legit.
    If it's not legit, how can we legitimize Maris' HR in the era of greenies? Aaron's?
    How about records with high mounds, or when sac flies counted against batting average?
    He played in a playing field of which he has yet to be convicted of consistently and knowingly using steroids.
    The home-run champion is Barry Bonds.

  5. Dave. B August 9, 2007 at 7:52 PM #

    Greenies? come on. That is nothing like the steroids Bonds was using. He would never have got to the record without the roids. Based on his track record prior to when he started ,199, he was hitting about 125-150 home runs every 4 years. In the four years he did roids, 99-03, he hit about 250. He would be around 650 without roids. Not to mention the ability roids have to heal th body. He could have missed so many more game than he did if it hadn't been for those. You are saying we know he did it but we didn't know if he knew. Because of that fact, we shouldn't care? I'm sorry but that is retarded. To compare the Duke case to this is an insult to our intelligence. Those kids were accused by a really shady person and a lying D.A. Bonds has admitted to it. Who cares if he knew or not. If I were to be on a street corner selling drugs than go to court and say i thought it was candy, everyone would laugh at me. You honestly believe he didn't know. Wow, i don't even care about Bonds or the record but come on to even come close to saying that he is "legit" is insane. Christ, look at the guy. Bonds cheated, everyone knows it, and the record has to be tainted. That being said, it is a stupid record anyway.

  6. Remember Roger LaFra August 9, 2007 at 8:02 PM #

    Two things first-
    Maris was denied full credit because he played in a season with more games, and the commish was the Babe's biographer!
    Rogers Hornsby played post dead ball – A better comparison would have been Nap Lajoie or Honus Wagner.
    Bonds is a scumbag – He is a child of privelege who was filthy rich and famous, but jealous of the attention gained by Mac and Sammy. He has been indifferent to fans, hostile to the media and PR staff, and set off from his teammates. Just because others on the mound or at bat were using does not justify his behavior and choices. What made him a great player pre-juice was the stolen bases and gold gloves in combo with the power. He hasn't run or fielded well since he started juicing.
    The true crime is the influence on HS, college players who want/need an extra edge to compete with these buffoons, or to make the money they make. Twenty years from now when all these juicers are on dialysis, have cancer, are crippled physically, and are emotional wrecks, we will not be having this argument about "Real HR Kings". We will feel ashamed for cheering them.

  7. Brian August 9, 2007 at 9:32 PM #

    I consider Barry Bonds the Home Run King. Everybody in this era was using steroids so the playing field is level.
    Steroids or no steroids, Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players ever to play this game.

  8. Remember Roger LaFrancois? August 10, 2007 at 12:02 AM #

    Two things first-
    Maris was denied full credit because he played in a season with more games, and the commish was the Babe’s biographer!
    Rogers Hornsby played post dead ball – A better comparison would have been Nap Lajoie or Honus Wagner.
    Bonds is a scumbag – He is a child of privelege who was filthy rich and famous, but jealous of the attention gained by Mac and Sammy. He has been indifferent to fans, hostile to the media and PR staff, and set off from his teammates. Just because others on the mound or at bat were using does not justify his behavior and choices. What made him a great player pre-juice was the stolen bases and gold gloves in combo with the power. He hasn’t run or fielded well since he started juicing.
    The true crime is the influence on HS, college players who want/need an extra edge to compete with these buffoons, or to make the money they make. Twenty years from now when all these juicers are on dialysis, have cancer, are crippled physically, and are emotional wrecks, we will not be having this argument about “Real HR Kings”. We will feel ashamed for cheering them.

  9. Joe August 10, 2007 at 4:40 AM #

    How many more home runs would Barry Bonds have hit if he wasn't facing juiced pitchers? His performance in that measure is the greatest sports feat in history.
    Obviously I'm being more than a little sarcastic, but why is it assumed that steroids only help the home run hitters? Of course, I guess that explains why Donnie Sadler had all those HR titles in the late-90s with the Sox.

  10. Rick August 10, 2007 at 4:44 AM #

    If the record was only kept for each "era", then, yes, Bonds performed on a playing field level with his peers (Canseco, McGuire, etc.).
    But the record spans over one hundred years of the sport, and that puts former record holders like Ruth and Aaron at a disadvantage.
    Roger Maris was denied full credit for his record simply because he had one exceptional year out of many good ones. People didn't feel his career "ante" was sufficient to merit a title, numbers be damned. His personal life style was admirable, and his performance that golden year was influenced by a level of dedication and discipline that he had not committed to in the past. Despite earning his place in the history books with hard work and effort, universal qualifications that easily translate across history and record keeping, he was vilified for displacing a blueblood and outperforming a crowd favorite.
    Bonds is no such man. His record is tainted with chemical abuse. No historical figure, except McGuire, can honestly be compared to him as he has grasped an advantage that was unavailable to those in the past.
    We fret over the composition of bats, the winding and core of a baseball, the height of the pitchers mound and other physical issues of the game because we seek consistency and continuity. Why, then, don't we demand the same thing of the players and what they do to themselves as they vie competitively for an advantage? Let alone the fact that, as they reach for that next edge, they are risking their future health with substance abuse.
    Baseball has one aspect to it that few other sports can claim. The game is played in the past as much as it is played in the present. Every game evokes memories of longtime greats. Stories are told and retold of plays and players. Their statistics, tendencies and insane behaviors brought up and savored with each pitch and play in the field.
    What will we remember from this era? The Clear? The needles? Will we recall hysterical stories of players shooting up in the showers or freaking out on a "roid rage" and tearing a lockeroom to pieces?
    Or will we remember that this was the era where we finally came to our senses and demanded that players stopped abusing themselves, risking their longterm health and destroying the continuity of this precious game?

  11. Steven Roth August 10, 2007 at 7:35 AM #

    Good job Barry Bonds. But let's forget about him for now. Turn your attention to the feel good story of the year. Rick Ankiel made his Cardinals debut as an outfielder last night and hit a 3-run homer. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?
    Moral of the story, never give up. Ankiel was one of my favorite pitchers back in the day and now he's one of my favorite outfielders. We should have gotten him over Kielty.

  12. M.A.G. August 10, 2007 at 10:38 AM #

    I completely agree with Rick.

  13. Nick Cannata-Bowman August 10, 2007 at 11:12 AM #

    Directed towards Dave:
    Bonds played in 671 out of 810 games from 99-'03, so he still did miss quite a few. The only time he played in over 150 games was '01, where you'd expect him to not rest as much pursuing the single season record.

  14. Guest Columnist August 10, 2007 at 12:39 PM #

    Sorry, Zach, not buying it. Why? Because there's no clean record in existence. There are no zero-sums here. Aaron played under different circumstances than Ruth, Ruth under different circumstances than Sommers, etc. Bonds has played in an era where, if most reports are to be believed, many many players – 50% or more – were on steroids or HGH. I think it's also instrumental to note that more pitchers have tested positive than hitters since MLB began implementing its new steroid policy. There is a level playing field now, and Barry Bonds is still better than everyone else.
    Cheating is a tough concept. How are we defining it? Should Gaylord Perry be barred from the Hall of Fame? How about Ty Cobb, who routinely spiked players going into second base? How about Aaron, who undoubtedly took amphetamines along with most of the other players of his era?
    There are two aspects to the steroid issue. The first is moral: should ballplayers be setting this kind of example? The second is competitive: do they have an advantage? Steroids is an issue because it spans them both, but they need to be separated. Steroids absolutely set a bad example, but so does cocaine and no one ever excised Daryl Strawberry from the game. So is domestic abuse, but Wil Cordero's numbers remain. Baseball tolerates a lot of moral transgressions; steroids is not different only because it helps players on the field (which, by the way, I'd be willing to bet cocaine does as well). So, let's talk about performance enhancement. It's everywhere; players today have a lot more help than players in any other era. Tommy John surgery, Lasik, elbow guards, medical advances – performance enhancers are everywhere.
    So, on the one hand, we say steroids are different from those other performance enhancers – which we tolerate and sometimes celebrate – because it's bad morally and it's illegal. But on the other hand, it's different from all those other morally-bad, illegal things that baseball tolerates because it's a performance enhancer. Steroids can only be judged alongside one or the other. Baseball has every right to ban it, but getting all high and mighty about those who use it is ridiculous and short-sighted.

  15. Andrew August 10, 2007 at 12:41 PM #

    That was me, by the way. Failed to sign out after posting my column.

  16. Andrew August 10, 2007 at 1:05 PM #

    Oh and also, here's a fun quiz for you: How old was Hank Aaron when he had his career best HR year?
    Go look it up. Great players can have great years at older ages because great players defy the norm. Steroids or no.

  17. Brent August 10, 2007 at 1:52 PM #

    Selig let Baseball come to this so this is the legacy he will leave (why is HE still around?).
    Steroids were/are used by fielders, pitchers and DH – so it is what it is.
    Now that the record is broken, there is little left to do about it, but make sure the game is what it should have been to begin with.
    Selig must go! And if a few players go with him? Who cares.