It seemed only fitting yesterday that Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player in history to hit home run #500 (he beat Jimmie Foxx by 10 months) on the same day Barry Bonds hit home run #755, tying Henry Aaron’s all-time home run mark.
It’s fitting because it’s already time to stop thinking about Bonds’ achievement, and start looking to when A-Rod surpasses Bonds.
Certainly, Bud Selig must be thinking this way.
Selig’s statements and expressions on Bonds have the mark of a man who’s just consumed a glass of milk, only to find it’s been curdled. You’re waiting for him to either gag, or kick up his lunch. What in the name of Roger Maris does “out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty” mean? Last I checked, Mr. Commissioner, you had to be charged with something before talk of being innocent or guilty comes into play. Since when did the court of public opinion require you to roll out such nonsense, not once, but twice? You had to bring in former White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer to script that?
Acknowledge the achievement. Smile till your face hurts, knowing that you, and the Players Association benefited from PEDs in MLB when you brought the game to its knees in ’94, and now you’re paying the price.
You, and the rest of the sports world, should rest easy knowing that shortly after Bonds passes Aaron, the world will move on and start talking about Rodriguez’s chase of Bonds.
A-Rod’s pursuit of Bonds will be the focus for the next five years, short of a Jose Canseco bombshell, Rodriguez will be the much-needed distraction from the whole Bonds controversy.
Remember, it was the catching and surpassing of Roger Maris that grabbed our attention with Mark McGwire. While Baseball Nation wanted to see how high his single-season total would be, the fringe fans clapped their hands, and moved on after 62. The same will happen with Bonds and 756.
So, prepare to move on. The fans and Commissioner Selig should take in 756 for what it is, one heck of an achievement, juiced or otherwise, and say that Bonds should then start becoming yesterday’s news. We can all make comments on how much of A-Rod’s hair is falling out when he starts to approach Bonds’ final total. He’ll certainly not have the intestinal fortitude of Bonds under the pressure of the chase. That, in itself, will be a story to watch: will Rodriguez crack like a Ming vase under pressure.
So, get healthy. Breath deep and realize that the Bonds’ time in the spotlight will begin to fade shortly. After all, America is all about here today. Gone today.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.
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