First thing’s first. Barry Bonds has hit many baseballs an incredible distance, and that is something I am and will be in awe of for the rest of my life. In his career, he mastered a skill that is more difficult than any occupational task, and made it a routine.
However, I don’t like Barry Bonds (I don’t use hate because I don’t care that much). Did anyone listen to his speech? If you missed it, I’ll catch you up. Imagine the sound of ten baby’s crying in harmony as several pairs of acrylic fingernails screech down an old chalkboard, and right when all that finally stops, your girlfriend farts. That’s exactly what it sounded like.
So now that you’re caught up, I wanted to make a couple comments on the post-home run celebration. The guy is empty. Soulless. Go on ESPN or youtube and check out what he does immediately after he touches homeplate. His son, who is waiting at home plate, wraps his arms around his dad to give him a hug, an embrace that we peasants couldn’t dream of…
Now, I can’t speak for everybody, but when I think about my father, I think of him taking me down to the park after school, throwing me batting practice, telling me to grip the bat tighter when it was cold and it hurt. I think of him hitting me thousands, maybe millions of flyballs. I think of him running out to give me five when we won our first championship. When I think of my dad, I think of baseball. I have no stronger connection with my father than the one we have on the baseball field.
…and with all of this coming to a climax, possibly the GREATEST FATHER-SON MOMENT OF ALL TIME, Bonds raises his arms to the sky to point towards nothing (like most pompous assholes do), doesn’t touch, acknowledge, or look at his son, and turns away. He didn’t even know he was there. This was pretty sad, and I felt for the kid, who probably loves his dad a whole lot more than any of the airline passengers Bonds pointed towards.
To briefly add, the speech was condescending and transparent and he barely hugged his mother. That’s all I’ll say about that.
But here’s the positive spin: as I was watching Hank Aaron’s honorable message to Bonds, I realized that this might be the best thing that could have happened to Aaron, and here’s why (I will list because I’m tired of paragraphs):
1. There are only two remaining sects of people who still believe Bonds is/was clean:
Potheads in San Francisco
The Bonds Family (I decided to add them because to imagine the distorted perceptions they hold, even Barry himself, is frightening).
2. Running off that point, anyone else with a grade school education knows Bonds cheated. So, in the fan’s mind, Hank is still the king.
3. Plus, considering how culturally powerful the words “Home Run King” have become, and how awesome a title it must be, I still think that having that brand degraded Hank Aaron as a player. And I know the experts know and you guys will all run to baseball-reference.com and start spewing numbers like you had them tatooed backwards on your face, but let me save you the trouble, and you may be surprised, just like me.
—A lot of people say Hank broke the record because he played so long and he never hit that many homeruns in a season blah blah blah. Aaron hit 40+ 8 times. 8. Only one guy did it more than him, ever–his name was Baby something-or-other. Mark “Where have you gone?” McGwire only did it six times, and he cheated.
—Hank Aaron did some other cool stuff while he was out there, too.
-He drove in 2,297 runs, more than you (regardless of who you is)
-He had 1,477 extra base-hits, more than you (regardless of who you is)
-He accumulated 6,656 total bases, more than you (regardless of who you is)
-He got 3,771 hits, probably more than you (unless you is Ty Cobb or Pete Rose)
-He scored 2,174 runs, probably more than you (unless you is Rickey Henderson, Ty Cobb, or Barry Bonds)
-He played in 24 All-Star games, more than you (regardless of who you is)
-He finished in the top 3 in MVP voting 7 times, probably more than you (didn’t have time to look it up, just let me know if you did that more than him and I’ll take it out)
My point here is that maybe Bonds hitting this homerun is a good thing (and not just for that dude from Queens). In my opinion, for Aaron, the homerun record almost became a handicap, making him seem like a one-dimensional guy. Shedding the title might help people to look at Aaron not just for being the greatest power hitter of all time, but for what he really is, one of maybe three guys that are the greatest baseball players of all time.