Wednesday, August 8, 2007
We stayed up late to watch it. The kid was going right at him and Bonds had already smacked a double and single in his previous at-bats. We knew it was coming. It just seemed right.
Mike Bacsik left a slider hang on a 3-2 count and Bonds crushed it about 10 seats into right-center field. Bonds knew it as soon as he hit it. He raised his arms above his head and into the cool night sky, admired the shot, briefly glanced at the pitcher, lowered and clapped his hands, then began his 756th trot.
Bonds now stands alone as the all-time home run king. For 33 years, Hank Aaron held that title.
Aaron has never been accused of being anything less than a classy man. He was taciturn as Bonds approached the most hallowed record in sports - his record. Many misconstrued that as Aaron's lack of support for Bonds. In a recent interview with ESPN, Aaron said his reticence was because he didn't want to take away from the lure of the chase.
Minutes after Bonds hit the 435-foot blast on Tuesday night, Aaron paid tribute to him.
"It is a great accomplishment which has involved skill, longevity and determination," Aaron said via videofeed on the outfield screen. "...I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family in this historical achievement."
Good god that's class.
And class isn't a word that many correlate with Bonds, who has long held almost a hostility toward media and his critics. And we all know why he has critics; that's why an asterik will likely forever be next to his final home run total.
Bonds' body, head, foot size and home runs have all grown rapidly since 2000 even as Bonds reached an age where most players' skills diminish - 35. The book Game of Shadows, which came out in 2006, details Bonds' alleged steroid use.
It would be ignorant to think Bonds was the only player who has ever juiced, especially in this era. We must never forget that he played in an era that most other hitters were juiced. Even moreso, pitchers facing Bonds were just as loaded.
While the evidence seems strongly cirumstantial, Bonds has never been proven guilty of steroid use, while many others of his era have.
So, for now, Bonds must be respected and recognized as the clean home run king.
If for nothing else, fans have to respect the history made last night.
Trip McFeeley, my esteemed cohort who (jokingly?) once said he'd throw 756 back, sent me a text minutes after the epic home run.
"I will always say he cheated. But its baseball history and its cool to see."
It was magnificent to see. As Bonds raised his hands into the San Francisco night, we lept out of our seat and, too, with our hands raised. We just saw history and it seemed right, regardless if Bonds is wrong.
Here's what other blogs are saying about it:
756* (The Big Lead)
At Last Sweet Death: In The End, You Don't Feel Nothing (Deadspin)
Come and Drink the Kool-Aid with me (100% Injury Rate)
756* (Awful Announcing)
It's Over (Babes Love Baseball)
Your New Homerun King (SOX&Dawgs)