756

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007 @ 10:54 am | Sports

Congratulations to Barry Bonds for hitting home run 756 last night, passing Hank Aaron and becoming the all-time home run king.

A lot of folks are less than thrilled about this turn of events. Between Bonds’ surly disposition and the rumors concerning steroid usage, many people feel that Bonds’ record is tainted. Personally, I don’t care.

One of the reasons why I don’t care is personal. Back in 1998, my brother was on hand when Bonds hit his 400th home run. He was 15 at the time and he brought his camera to the game. He managed to take a picture while Bonds was hitting home run #400. Being a film camera, he didn’t actually know what he captured until he got the photo back from being developed. The shot was perfect. He caught Bonds mid-swing. For a young kid without a ton of photography experience, you couldn’t have set up a better shot. At my dad’s suggestion, he got 2 5x7s printed and wrote a letter to Bonds. He explained who he was, what the photo was, and said that he’d appreciate it if Bonds could autograph one of the copies and was welcome to keep the second copy for himself. Some time later (I don’t recall how long), Dan received an envelope from San Francisco containing a personalized copy of his picture: “Dan, God Bless. Barry Bonds.”

Many professional athletes won’t sign anything sent to them. They might have somebody return the item unsigned in the SASE or they may provide something pre-signed. For this reason, I will always have at least some positive thoughts towards Bonds.

Beyond my personal reasons for cheering Bonds, I’m glad to see his break the record due to the actions of commissioner Bud Selig. I believe it was Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus who said that Selig was the only person who could make Bonds look sympathetic.

Throughout the run-up to Bonds passing Aaron, Selig’s actions have been distasteful and largely representative of his stewardship of baseball as a whole. First, he hemmed and hawed about whether he would attend games as Bonds closed in on the record. When Bonds tied Aaron’s mark on Saturday, Selig stood with his hands in his pocket like a petulant young boy while most around him were cheering. He issued a press release that denigrates instead of celebrates the game he for which he is responsible. Finally, he chooses not to attend the games after Bonds tied the record, instead delegating the task to an underling.

I realize that Bud Selig grew up in Milwaukee and watched Hank Aaron while the Braves called the area home. As such, he’s probably less than thrilled to see a childhood idol surpassed by a player he personally dislikes. As the game’s steward, however, he needs to put those feelings aside, at least while representing the game in public. You cannot simultaneously claim that baseball has a reliable and successful steroid-testing program while at the same time intimating that Barry Bonds (or any other player) is using steroids. To do otherwise exposes you as a hypocrite.

So once again, congratulations to Barry Bonds on the new record. And thank you so much, Bud Selig, for trying to suck the life out of the moment whenever you had the opportunity.

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