I have a pretty clear memory of watching Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run off Al Downing on April 8, 1974, and I remember looking forward to the first few games of that season with great anticipation.
By contrast, I was surrounded last night by friends — former, new, badly influential, etc. — in a local tavern that chose to show Comedy Central (on mute) rather than ESPN’s coverage of the Nationals visiting the Giants.
As you surely know by now, Barry Bonds connected for his 756th career home run last night off Washington’s Mike Bascik, with a subsequent Giants bullpen collapse being a mere footnote on this occasion — but what else is new?
And while the New York Post’s Brian Costello refers to Bonds as “The Sultan Of Syringe” — no doubt turning a blind eye to NewsCorp’s role as accessories in baseball’s longball boom — my own sentiments regarding Barry’s achievement are mixed. While I find many of his sparring sessions with the media to be high entertainment, there’s noting funny at all about the behavior described in “Love Me, Hate Me” nor was ESPN’s ill-fated “Bonds On Bonds” anything other than a sloppy exercise in egoism.
Still, if there’s room for a world class creep like Ty Cobb in the Hall Of Fame, Bonds’ legacy should rest on his accomplishments between the lines. And while there’s that leaked testimony indicating Bonds has been the beneficiary of some clear, creamy no-goodness, the same may or may not be true of Randy Velarde.
Bonds insisted last night the record isn’t tainted, and while I’m sure Floyd Landis admires such consistency, I would still prefer the scrutiny afforded to the legitimacy of the HR chase was extended to more than just one big, brooding scapegoat. Was the Mets’ 2007 playoff run, aided by Guillermo Mota, tainted? Bonds’ record tying blast on Saturday was served up by San Diego’s Clay Hensley, himself a previously suspended PED user. Prior to a remarkable physical transformation in his mid thirties, are we allowed to wonder how many home runs Bonds might have hit against pitchers who had a (chemical) competitive advantage?
In stark contrast to the Used Car Salesman’s immature, sadly self-righteous handling of Bonds’ assault on the record, Hank Aaron deserves considerable praise for offering his congratulations (albeit via long distance). When and if A-Rod breaks Bonds’ mark in a decade, I am certain Barry will make a similar gesture.
For a large appearance fee, anyway.
Regardless of whether that lucky Mets fan sells the historic ball, surely it is more important that Pedro Gomez’ eyebrows are shipped to Cooperstown?