Grunts, cheers and the cries of frightened children broke the silence as parents sought to shield their youngsters from the chaos. In the middle of it all was 22-year-old New Yorker Matt Murphy, who emerged from beneath the pile holding the ball Bonds hit for career home run No. 756. His face was bloodied and his clothes stretched and torn from his battle in the bleachers.
- Jason Dearen, Associated Press
The record is broken. Let the bickering begin.
The most iconic record in sports has fallen for the second time in 33 years. I have vague recollections about a lot of things, including April 8, 1974. I remember the announcer saying, "He did it! It's seven-fifteen!" Immediately, I looked at the clock and it was 9:07, not 7:15. How could the guy be off by almost 2 hours?
Seriously, the biggest issue over the Bonds record is the stench of steroids or whatever other performance enhancing drug he may be pumping into his body. Does caffeine count as a performance enhancer? If you're tired, it does. Babe Ruth, and to a lesser extent Hank Aaron played in a league with half as many teams as there are today, meaning that half the players playing today would still be in the minor leagues in the 1930s. That's a performance enhancer.
Barry Bonds routinely faces two, three or perhaps four different pitchers in the course of a game. Babe Ruth, and to a lesser extent Hank Aaron, played when pitchers went deep into games, and didn't have the luxury of a fresh-armed relief ace; so Ruth and Aaron faced tired pitchers for half the game. That's a performance enhancer.
It's hard to chastise Bonds for breaking a non-existent rule that, if it did exist was never enforced. Baseball's drug testing program is a farce, and it routinely catches minor leaguers and borderline major leaguers and chooses to make examples of them while the real suspects skate.
The problem started when Major League baseball appointed an owner as its commissioner. Bud Selig has proved to be a milquetoast commissioner, and although he professes to be anti-drug, and even anti-Barry, he didn't have a problem when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were "saving" baseball with their drug enhanced home run record effort, and he has turned his back on the game by allowing it to continue, all in the name of cash. Baseball commissioners used to have a saying when they enforced a rule. They'd say, "It's in the best interests of baseball." I haven't heard that one in a long time.
So, there's a new Home Run King. Since baseball is so fixated on numbers and records, it's easy to see why they would promote it, but one wonders what history will say about a league where cheaters prospered and their half-assed enforcement of a half-assed drug policy gave them exactly what they wanted - balls flying over people's heads.
Ruth and Aaron each held the record for 30 years or so. Chances are, Bonds' mark will be approached and broken long before 2040 - perhaps twice in that time. So, keep expanding, weaken the competition and juice up the whole league. Why bother testing at all? Just let the players do what they want to their bodies and let the baseballs fly.
It's in the best interests of baseball, right?