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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

756*

Like countless other people watching TV Tuesday night, I had the sickening experience of seeing a presumed cheater steal the most coveted record in professional sports from one of the most honorable men ever to play the game of baseball.

The record books will show that Barry Bonds, shortly before 9 p.m. Pacific time on Aug. 7, 2007, hit his 756th career home run into the right-center field seats at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., eclipsing Hank Aaron's mark of 755.

The record books will show that Barry Bonds -- who testified to a federal grand jury in 2003 that he used at least two banned performance-enhancing substances (though he claimed he didn't know they were illegal) -- now holds the title of "Home Run King."

And, sadly, the record books probably will not carry the much-needed asterisk next to Bonds' name, despite sworn statements from two indicted executives of the now-infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) that Bonds' personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, supplied the slugger with steroids.

My personal record book, however, will show that Aug. 7, 2007, was the darkest day in baseball history -- and that the career home run tally remains Aaron 755, Bonds 0.

The least surprising element of Tuesday night's "historic" moment was that Bonds, who cares about no one other than Bonds, stood at home plate, hands held high, for several seconds after hitting the home run, as if to say to all who were in the stadium and all who were watching on TV: "Salute me. Revere me. I am the greatest baseball player of all time." Indeed, his ego is the only thing bigger than his phony biceps.

The most surprising element amid all the hubbub was that Aaron -- who always played the game with dignity and humility and who has shied away from discussing Bonds' pursuit of the record, presumably because, like so many other people, he feels the accomplishment is tainted -- taped a congratulatory video message to Bonds that was shown on the scoreboard video screen at AT&T Park after Bonds did the deed. That was a real disappointment. Aaron, one of my boyhood heroes, had been showing real class this season by not publicly admonishing Bonds but also not doing anything to suggest the new record would be legitimate. Aaron's silence spoke volumes about what we all assumed was his belief that he was about to be surpassed by a man who has disgraced the national pastime. But then he turned around and validated Bonds' achievement by lauding him in a statement that probably was seen live by millions of people and surely will be replayed again and again in the coming days. I wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

I also wish for two other things: First, that Bonds is indicted, and ultimately convicted, for doing what we all suspect he did. That will give Commissioner Bud Selig and other powers-that-be in Major League Baseball all the ammunition they'll need to ban Bonds from the game and erase his statistics from the record books. And second, that someone, presumably Alex Rodriguez, breaks Bonds' home run record as soon as possible -- perhaps in the next 10 years -- so that we can put this awful period behind us and erase the painful memory of Aug. 7, 2007, the darkest day in baseball history.

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3 Comments:

Blogger The Adjunct Professor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 8, 2007 at 4:46 PM 
Blogger The Adjunct Professor said...

I recently came across a post on another blog which included comments from former Atlanta Braves outfielder Dale Murphy. Murphy apparently called a radio talk show and completed blasted Bonds.Click Here if you want to read Murphy's Comments

August 8, 2007 at 4:54 PM 
Blogger Conor said...

Sure, he probably cheated. But what about the 446 pitchers he homered off of during his hall-of-fame career (he was a lock even before his head began to balloon). If steroids were as rampant as has been suggested during the "homerun era" then couldn't the argument be made that it was juice against juice for an untold number of his blasts. This scandal is a black-eye for baseball as a whole. Barry Bonds is just a convenient punching bag. That said, I am rooting for A-Rod.

August 8, 2007 at 7:19 PM 

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