Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Barry Bonds

Last night, San Fransisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run, breaking the record for career homers held by Hank Aaron. That moment has been the cause of a lot of hand wringing due to the fact that Bonds, in catching Aaron, probably used performance-enhancing steroids. He's never tested positive for a banned substance, but there's circumstantial evidence that Bonds was juicing for a few years before the whole steroid scandal broke in baseball a few years ago.

So, the question is, do the allegations surrounding Bonds over the past few years taint his accomplishment? Does the record book include an asterisk next to Bonds's name? Is Aaron still the real home run king?

As somebody who really doesn't give a hoot about baseball beyond the second or third day of the season when the Phillies are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, I can't get too worked up about it. On the one hand, Bonds's prodigious late-career hitting certainly supports the theory that, had he not been juicing, Aaron's record would have stood. On the other hand, it's never been proven that Bonds took anything that MLB said he shouldn't.

Pushing the limit of the rules is a well-worn tradition in sports. In fact, getting a competitive advantage is usually a matter of figuring out how to get away with stuff that might violate the spirit of the rules without violating the letter of them. Hell, it's practically an American tradition! So I, for one, welcome our new home run overlord.

1 comment:

Hoyt said...

I'm with you on this one. I'm not a fan of Bonds, but the guy is still one of the greatest players ever in baseball.

A few years ago, the New York Times featured a nice article about how far some professional althletes go to obtain that "competitive advantage." I'll see if I can find it.