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756 — The Day After

One night of short sleep later, some thoughts about Barry Bonds’ big night:

Henry Aaron offered up the class and dignity that defined his career. Regardless how he feels about Bonds personally, his congratulatory tribute gave the big event a sense of legitimacy that it may otherwise have been lacking. Bonds said after the game that “the record is not tainted, period,” and because of Aaron’s actions, he’s right.

— Bonds is the greatest player of his generation, and even if you think his performance was chemically enhanced — and how can you not? — consider this: The man has walked 2,540 times during his 22-year career. That’s a bit more than five full seasons in which he never took the bat off his shoulder. Reduce that by a half or even one-third, take away the performance enhancers, and chances are his home run total would be awfully close to where it is right now.

— Be careful about assuming that this record is just on loan to Bonds until Alex Rodriguez takes it away in 10 years. Let’s assume Bonds gets hot, hits 14 more home runs this season and never plays again. That would leave him with 770. That would mean A-Rod would have to average about 27 dingers a year for a decade to tie. I’m not ready to take the leap of faith that A-Rod will do that without blinking. All it takes is one catastrophic injury or a handful of minor ones to derail a guy. Just ask Ken Griffey Jr.

— Washington Nationals starter Mike Bacsik, who gave up the big 7-5-6, handled the event with as much grace and perspective as you would’ve hoped. Like I blogged on Tuesday, why wouldn’t you want to give up such a historic blast? It means your name will endure forever.

— Here is why Bonds is so frustrating: He mentions his father during his speech to fans and is overcome by emotion. Great moment, one to which every human who has ever lost somebody close can relate. Then he’s asked about it in the postgame press conference and brushes it off, saying, “He can’t remember.” The man won’t even give us even a tiny glimmer into his soul.

— Bonds snapped at a question regarding Greg Anderson, but the inquiry was perfectly legitimate and timely. Bonds mentioned Anderson after he hit No. 71 in 2001, as well as several other times, and the man is sitting in jail in large part to prevent Bonds from being there.

The Moment was unforgettable, but personally, it didn’t create the lump in my throat that watching Aaron’s home run, Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit or Cal Ripken’s 2,131st straight game did. Perhaps because I wasn’t working those other events and frantically trying to jot down every detail. But I’m sure part of it also is that it’s just so tough to like Barry Bonds. Great player. Not a nice human being.

— Given all the hints Bonds keeps dropping about returning next season, you have to imagine things are getting quite interesting in the Giants’ front office. Sue Burns is the team’s major stock holder, and if she wants him back, he may well be back next season.

— Finally, I’ll say this. Steroids or not, Barry Bonds is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. The Tiger Woods of baseball. A prodigy who was born to be the greatest and has fulfilled every expectation. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that we’ve been privileged to watch him.

rhurd

  • http://www.timelinemp.com Danny

    He may have been this close without the enhancers and walks, but if that were true, why take the enhancers? Why send your childhood chum to jail? I don’t remember watching Bonds play when he was skinny as I was a bit young, but I know that a cheat is a cheat is a cheat. You say that the record isn’t tainted because of Aaron, but all Aaron did with his speech is remind people what class and dignity really is, and how lacking the new record holder is in that regard.
    The one good thing about Bonds doing this is it’s made me appreciate more how difficult it was for Ruth and Aaron to do this amazing feat. While Bonds did it with flaxseed oil and creamy lotions, Aaron did it with amazing determination, focus and dignity, and Ruth did it with swagger, beer and cigars.