Wednesday, March 09, 2005


It is fairly obvious to even the most casual observer of baseball that there's something strange about a guy like Barry Bonds to have such an amazing surge of home-run power past the age of 37. Sure, he can credit dieting, a state-of-the-art work-out regimen, etc. But nature is nature, and no matter which way you slice it, the natural progression of nature renders even the greatest athletes lesser men in the long run. But in the case of Bonds, it has done the opposite. Strange, no?

Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, has decreed that any records that Bonds (or anyone else for that matter) has broken up to this point will not be marked with an asterisk. Quoth Selig, “That would be unfair to do that… We can't turn history back… Each era, each decade has had situations where people said there were unfair advantages.” True enough. Gaylord Perry was quite open about his spitballs. God knows what else he was guilty of. So I understand Selig's point. But to my mind, the integrity of the game has been blemished, and not just by Bonds. So whether or not there's an asterisk next to Bonds' name, or McGwire's, or anyone elses, it matters not. The masses of Americans who watch the game (and I'm a casual, not obsessive, observer) will know that McGwire's home run record for a single season was tainted, as was Bonds' subsequent breaking of it.

At this point, the best thing that Selig can do, though he probably won't, is place MLB under the same strict anti-performance enhancing rules as the International Olympic Committee has for Olympic athletes. The integrity of the game has been called into question. If he wants to rectify that, he should implement the same Olympic standards, Donald Fehr and the players' union be damned.

On a personal note, I don't like Bonds. Conversely, I've always loved Hammerin' Hank Aaron. The first ballgame I witnessed at the age of seven was the Yanks versus the Milwaukee Brewers. The Yanks won 10-1. Hammerin' Hank got the lone Brewers homer. The memory of it thrills me even now. So in the interest of full disclosure, I'd rather see Hank keep the all-time homer record than see that ugly cad Bonds take it. Let's preserve that record for someone a bit more worthy, a bit more classy, and preferably someone who isn't juiced up to the point of resembling the Michelin Man.

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