With all that is good and right and fun about baseball starting up soon, there is a shadow looming in the season ahead. The shadow’s name is Barry Bonds. If he stays healthy, this could be the year he surpasses both Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron for the home run record. That, in my opinion, would be not only a shame but a blemish on Major League Baseball.
There is no doubt Bonds cheated and an unknown number of his home runs were hit while he was taking performance enhancing drugs. It is fact. I don’t know how many, nobody really does. Everybody has their own opinion on Bonds, and that’s fine. The problem I have with the whole situation is the attempt by the media, most notably ESPN, to make this such a heroic event and try to get fans to sympathize with Bonds’ plight.
If there can really be someone called a “hero” in the sports world, and somebody who struggled against real odds to achieve something great, that person is Hank Aaron. Tom Stanton tells the story of Aaron’s final year approaching the record held for so long by Ruth. It is an amazing read about an amazing man accomplishing an amazing feat.
Aaron broke a white man’s record in a time of racial instability. He received death threats against himself and his family in a time where ballpark security didn’t exist. Yet he showed up and played in every game he was physically able. When his body began breaking down, he played. When he was a mere two home runs away from the record and only 1,400 fans were showing up in his home stadium, he went out and played. He did it all naturally, and with class. Neither can be said for Bonds.
Read the book.