Pro: Barry Bonds deserves his due
Appeal Sports Writer
I’ve heard it time and again that records are made to be broken. With that in mind, I applaud Barry Bonds, baseball’s new home run king.
For a guy who never failed a drug test, or broke a baseball rule, the sometimes surly Bonds has taken a tremendous amount of heat the last couple of years while chasing what was once thought to be an unbreakable record.
Bonds has weathered intense scrutiny, private and public. He’s even weathered Grand Jury investigations – so far. It might wear a weaker man down, but not Bonds. He continued to produce.
Maybe he used steroids and maybe he didn’t. The fact remains that there was no baseball punishment against using drugs when Bonds was alleged to have started using them in the late 90s. There was no testing policy in place. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, steroids does make you stronger, but it has nothing to do with hand-eye coordination and the ability to make contact. Heck, if steroids were so great guys should be hitting .600 and hitting 70 homers a year.
In fact, baseball seemed to play dumb as balls kept flying out of the park with regularity back in the 90s. The reason why owners played dumb is that they didn’t want to lose a Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro or Bonds because it would keep fans out of the ballpark, and we all know that the owners are all about money.
If owners felt that strongly that drugs may have been involved, then they should have tackled the player’s union and gotten some sort of drug testing added to players contracts.
Bonds is arguably the greatest hitter ever to play the game, and even without his 73-homer season or breaking Hank Aaron’s record. He’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. He’s won multiple MVP awards. He’s one of the best five-tool players in baseball history. I’m not just saying that because of the home runs. His discipline at the plate is what makes him so dangerous and sets him apart from guys like Aaron, Willie Mays and the late Roberto Clemente, three of the best in history.
Look at the amount of walks he draws. During his single-season record-breaking homer season of 2001, Bonds drew 177 walks, whether of the intentional or unintentional variety. Two years later when he hit 45 bombs, he walked 232 times. The most Ruth walked was 170 times in a year where he hit 41 homers. Aaron never walked more than 92 times in a season.
When Sosa and McGwire were waging their assault on Roger Maris’ single-season record, they were pitched to with a lot more regularity than when Bonds enjoyed his 73-homer season.
Bonds should be given his due. He has far and away more stolen bases than either Aaron or Ruth, more runs scored, more doubles than Aaron, approximately 500 more walks than Ruth and more than 1,000 more than Aaron. Bonds has more hits than Ruth, 2,907-2,873. His on-base percentage is better than both Ruth and Aaron.
Bonds could do it all. Until the last couple of seasons when his knees started acting up, he was arguably the best left fielder in the game. The only flaw, even when he was younger, is that his throwing arm wasn’t great.
I think much of the wrath directed at Bonds is because he isn’t a nice guy. Certainly he isn’t/ wasn’t as approachable as either Ruth or Aaron.
Whether you like somebody or not, shouldn’t have anything to do with it. Baseball is all about putting up the numbers between the lines. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer, and if that doesn’t happen then people are just plain vindictive.