Still reeling from Chuck Klosterman’s “The Breaking Point”, Tim Midgett writes,
If Bonds breaks Ruth’s record, is there any way it’s not a huge baseball achievement, a product of its times just as Bonds is a product of his times?
“”His cheating seems stupidly obvious. But nobody seemed to perceive this obviousness until we had no other choice.”
Give me a break. Do you know anyone who thinks Bonds hasn’t been on something for years? Everyone I know who watches baseball carefully thought McGwire and Sosa had to be on something. And Brady Anderson and Bret Boone. And Roger Clemens.
I’d like to ‘fess up. I watch baseball very carefully and I had no idea Randy Velarde was on drugs. But that aside, I think Tim is onto something here. I fail to understand why Klosterman and others are particularly hung up on 715 — unless of course, they are pretty certain Barry won’t stay upright long enough to reach 755. Doesn’t it play into the Sultan’s already over-the-top persecution complex to harp on 715? All HR no. 715 will do is make Barry the 2nd most prolific home run hitter of all-time. Ruth’s record was broken 32 years ago.
But if we’re gonna resort to comparing the conditions of completely different eras, Babe Ruth had more than a few competitive advantages at his disposal, too. None of ’em were illegal at the time (the color line, for instance), but neither were some of Barry’s until very recently.
There’s exactly one sentence in Klosterman’s piece that I really liked ; “Nobody ever wrote a takedown book on Mark McGwire. I’m not sure anyone even considered it.” And there’s another I can’t possibly disagree with more ; “for his entire career, Barry Bonds has embodied nothing.”
I’d say the Sultan has come to embody a singleminded pursuit of excellence (even at the expense of his own physical well-being), that 99 times out of a hundred, is widely admired in most walks of life (sports and business, especially). That he’s employed any means necessary to reach the top of his chosen field says to me he has a lot in common with the most powerful and successful persons on earth (the majority of whom aren’t interviewed in their underwear everyday). That he’s not even remotely contrite (unlike the near blubbering Big Mac) just makes him an even easier target.
I’m not arguing that Bonds isn’t a fraud, by the way. But as long as he’s being held accountable for an unethical assault on the record books, let’s not forget the enablers and co-conspirators named Selig, Magowan, Sabean and Baker.