Saturday, August 7, 2010

August 7, 2007: 756

SAN FRANCISCO - Where were you when the record fell?

... Wait, you don't remember? Maybe the date will help: August 7, 2007, just before 9:00 Pacific. Oh, see, that might be the problem - that's nearly 11:00 Central and approaching midnight on the East Coast. And that was a Monday, so you probably had to work the next day. But still, you didn't stay up to wait for Barry Bonds to break the home run record? I mean, that's historic!

Everybody remember when Hank Aaron passed Babe Ruth. April 8, 1974, in the 4th inning off Al Downing, a fastball hit into the Atlanta bullpen. Everybody knows the scene - Aaron being congratulated by the Dodgers players as he rounded the bases, the two fans catching him to congratulate him, Aaron meeting his mom at home plate - touching. Same thing with Bonds, right?

Really? Nothing?

Would it help if I reminded you of the pitcher? It was ... crap. I had it. I have to look this up, hold on ... Mike Bacsik. Wait, really? Who's Mike Bacsik? Anyway, that's not important. You really don't remember? He didn't run right away, just lifted his arms in celebration and watched it fly. Nothing? You don't remember him meeting his son at home plate? Or the video message Aaron recorded in congratulations? Or seeing Bonds' godfather, Willie Mays, join in the celebration? Nothing, huh?

That's so strange. It was such a historic moment, and you can't picture it. Do you remember Mark McGwire's 62nd? Of course you do - a sharp line drive right down the line, sinking and hooking the entire way, barely clearing the fence. McGwire forgetting to touch first, shaking hands, greeting Sammy Sosa. Easy to remember. But not so much with Bonds, huh?

So tell me, what's the difference? You can't tell me it's the "S" word, because McGwire's just as guilty, if not more so. Is it a personality thing, then? I can buy that. But that's not enough of a reason. It's not a race thing, is it? I hope not. Some people will buy that reasoning, of course, but Aaron is black, too, and while he received far more abuse and grief than any player of his time for that very fact, people still remember his home run. Where they were, how they felt, and so on. Not so much with Bonds.

There are a lot of unknowns about Barry Bonds, and plenty of reasons to not like him. But the simple fact remains that he's the only man to hit 756 home runs at the Major League level. That's gotta be worth something.

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