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Ready For A New Home Run King?

In spite of Major League Baseball's lack of enthusiasm he's going to do it. And this time it's for real not just for second place. Yes, in the not too distant future San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds will be the record holder for career home runs as he eclipses Henry Aaron's mark. I could never really understand all the hoopla when Bonds passed Babe Ruth, at 714. It was for second place, it was irrelevant it no longer mattered, Henry Aaron had surpassed that record when I was a senior in High School. Since when in American society are we concerned with second place? I don't remember too many libraries being built for Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, or Robert Dole do you? We celebrate winners in this society, not runners up! To make a big deal over Bonds passing the Babe was just ludicrous, and in saying that I am in no way diminishing the Bambino's importance to the game. He is the man who saved baseball after the Black Sox scandal, and as I have stated in a previous article, he was Sports first modern superstar. But with that being said the record was broken in 1974, before half of our population was even born!

But now it counts! When Barry Bonds breaks 755, the game will have a new Home Run King, and there are many inside and outside of baseball that would prefer that this day would never arrive. Barry Bonds is not looked upon as a hero by many, in fact he could in many ways be considered more infamous than famous. He is not warm and cuddly and humble. He's proud and sensitive, and a person many consider a prima dona. Travis Fryman when he was the Cleveland Indians third baseman back in the club's glory days when they had an All Star at every position may have put it best. He said "We have a lot of Thoroughbreds in this clubhouse, and they tend to get a mite skittish at times."

Barry Bonds would fit that description, in every aspect. He come from Baseball Royalty background, his dad being a great player Bobby Bonds, who was haunted by his own demons during his playing days. And his Godfather and surrogate dad since Bobby's passing is none other than Willie Mays one of the greatest living players. Bonds was raised in Major League clubhouses, and grew up always being treated special. So is it any surprise that the man has an enormous ego? How could he possibly be expected to be any different, when our society encourages the special treatment of the athletically gifted. The true surprise is when you run into the exceptions, those people are truly special. So Barry is not a sympathetic character, and his antagonistic relationship with the media certainly does not help any. Barry Bonds is one of the very few legendary players over the last decade to play in MLB that I have not had any contact with, so I can not go on anything other than my peers anecdotes. But I have never had any contact with any member of the media, that had anything nice to say about this man. And in this day and age of 24 hour satellite sports coverage, the media can make you or break you. If the player has a good relationship with the media, that player can get away with a lot of indiscretions. If that player has an adverse relationship the media will turn over every stone they can to find that fellow's flaw. And when we do we pile on like flies on dung.

Besides Mr. Bonds less than charming persona there are of course the continuing allegations of this man using "performance enhancing products" over the last few years. Grand Jury testimony has been leaked to the public, and the terms "the creme and the clear" have become part of our modern sports lexicon. But here again there is no irrefutable proof, there is no vial of blood or urine that MLB has proving this. It is here say evidence, maybe enough to convict you in the court of public opinion but not enough to convict you in a court of law. And if in fact that Bonds has taken anything, does MLB have anybody else to blame but themselves? Baseball prospered like never before during the last few years, and MLB owners were not about to take too close a look at things. If you are ignorant how can you be blamed, even if you have to go out of your way to avoid seeing the warning signs. So even though Henry Aaron will not be there to witness it in person, soon his mark will be broken. And like it or not it is something that MLB and their fans have to deal with, one way or another. Whether baseball tries to ignore it or celebrate, when this tree falls in the forest it will make a huge noise. One that may reverberate for decades.
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  • I'm Matt Loede
  • From Cleveland, Ohio, United States
  • Matt has been involved in sports media for over ten years, with experience covering the NFL, NBA, and MLB for the past 13+ years.
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  • Stephen Rhodes has been a diehard Cincinnati Reds and MLB fan since the early 70's; his insight into today's game should make for interesting reading at The Game Of Baseball.
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