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Thursday, August 16, 2007


I wasn't old enough nor interested enough to appreciate Hank Aaron's blast in April of 1974 - a fact for which I have a partial excuse intruding as it did on my sixth birthday (although I do faintly remember the television on and comments made). Later, however, I had always imagined that when 755 was finally reached and breached by someone it would be among the highlights of my baseball fandom.

As for many others that simply wasn't the case and the event passed with little joy and more than a tinge of disappointment. This was not unlike, I suppose, the feelings experienced by many who had waited a lifetime for the 1986 approach of Halley's comet only to be disappointed. There were no external or internal cheers from my desk as I watched the replays of 755 and 756 on my laptop.

In understanding why the disappointment lingers, it comes down to a preponderance of the evidence suggesting that Bonds didn't accomplish the feat legitimately in the spirit of fair competition. Who can say what would have happened if he had chosen an alternate path? Perhaps he would have broken the record anyway since he certainly is the greatest offensive player of his generation with or without help. But therein lies the problem. He didn't let us find out and so now the game's greatest number, at least for awhile, (whatever that turns out to be) and hence it' greatest story will forever be accompanied by a shadow.

The litany of popular defenses including no positive PED test (until recently when Bonds tested positive for amphetamines), the actions of Major League Baseball and the player's union during the entire era, the lack of rock solid performance data quantifying the impact of PEDs, and the fact that many of his peers engaged in the same behavior, are indeed mitigating factors but ones that don't remove the ultimate responsibility of all competitors to play the game "the right way".

Believe me, I would rather have cheered.

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