I wish there was a way to wipe the slate clean. Maybe a way to know. Really know. How good would Barry Bonds have been if he had not done what we all know he did – even if he didn’t knowingly do so. (wink) What if he’d not been so surly, such a curmudgeon, so uncooperative with the media. I wish there was a way to know.
But there isn’t. All I know is that he’s now hit more home runs than any player in baseball history. I know he’s a marvel, maybe the best player ever. I know he once won four consecutive MVPs, and has a garage full of Gold Glove, Silver Spikes and plated bats. He’s stat-for-stat as good as any player, ever, including Ruth, Aaron and Godfather Mays.
How good would Bonds have been had he knowingly not done what we all know he did? Just as great, probably, however you want to define it. But 766 HRs? Probably not. But how many? 663? 628? 712? I wish there was a way to know.
This record is perhaps the worst thing to happen to Barry Bonds. It clouds not only what he was, but also what he might have been. It detracted from his obvious greatness and became a magnet for all the vitriol sports fans should be directing at everyone, anyone who had anything to do with with sport during the do-anything-era, including themselves. Sosa-McGwire? Please? We are all guilty.
So here we are on an historic night. Bonds is the most prolific home run-hitter of all time. No asterisk. No argument. No doubt. He has never failed a test and was eligible to play. As long as that was the case, each home run counted. Period.
Can we now just move on?
PS: Kudos to Mike Bacsik. The Washington National left-hander became the 446th pitcher to give up a HR to Bonds. And unlike some of the wormy pitchers who claimed they’d pitch around Bonds because they “didn’t want to be remembered in a negative light,” he, in his own words, “went after Bonds.” He got behind him 2-0. Threw a pretty good pitch that Bonds pulled foul. Then he threw a curve that didn’t – it hung over the plate and came to rest in the right field stands. Bacsik’s father, a former major-league pitcher who once faced Aaron, told his son to go after Bonds and he did. Kudos to them both. “I’m a part of history and I’m okay with he,” the younger Bacsik said. Now that’s a player.
And this is class: Hank Aaron offered a video tribute that was played as a surprise as Bonds was bathed in adulation by the home fans. Aaron was home asleep, but his message spoke volumes: “My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams,” he said.
Amen. As I said, let’s move on.