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Barry Bonds is the all-time home run champion with 762 long balls, seven more than long time leader Hank Aaron. Though any recent baseball fan knows this to be true, Aaron still holds the title in everybody’s hearts.
As Bonds’ perjury trial regarding steroid use throughout his professional career continues, fans are doing anything they can to forget he overtook hammerin’ Hank in his last few games of 2007.
Though many players have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in the past decade or so, including many prominent players in the infamous Mitchell Report, Bonds takes the brunt of the resentment.
Unfair? Maybe, but when you hold the most prestigious of records in America’s past-time, you better have earned it.
Unfortunately for Bonds the outcome of his trial probably doesn’t mean all that much for how he will be viewed. He will never be respected like Aaron was, no matter what the numbers say.
Moving forward, Alex Rodriguez, barring serious injury (or Barry Sanders like retirement), has an incredible opportunity to put Bonds in the rear-view mirror and take the crown for himself before his career is said and done.
A-Rod is currently sitting at 626 homers, putting him at sixth all time. In all probability in this year alone he will pass Ken Griffey Jr. (630), leaving only Mays, Ruth, Aaron, and Bonds to beat for the record.
Rodriguez is only 35 years old, and considering that he plays in the American League where he can play DH later in his career, he probably will be playing into his 40s.
For arguments sake, let’s say that he will play 5 more seasons after this one. As of right now he is 136 homers shy of Bonds. If he can cut that to 120 by the end of this season, that leaves only 24 home runs a year over those last five seasons to tie the record.
Let me amend my previous words a bit. Barring serious injury, the record stands no chance. However, the question remains, is this really an upgrade of character in fans eyes?
A-Rod, though not hated quite as much as Bonds, is easily the least liked player in the MLB outside of the New York area. He too has had steroid rumors swirling around him for years now, rumors which realistically can never been proven wrong nor shaken.
The point here is, one of the best records in sports is going through a tough time. The respect that Henry Aaron had from fans was immense, and will not be matched until a new savior comes along that can dispel any negativity that surrounds his mammoth blasts.
Everyone thought Griffey would be the one to take the crown, and legitimately at that. We missed the boat on him thanks to tragic injuries, but who else do we have to look forward to? Maybe if Albert Pujols can make a surge late in his career; maybe if young budding stars like Mike Stanton or Prince Fielder can get the job done in a new era where steroid testing is done regularly, then maybe we will see a change in the attitude towards the record.
Until then we are left wanting more. Wishing that these questionable blasts weren’t quite so questionable. No fan wants it to be this way, but it’s too late.
If only Griffey could have stayed healthy.