On Monday, baseball slugger Barry Bonds swatted his 12th homer of the season to come within nine of Hank Aaron’s all-time record (755), and you know what, records are meant to be broken.
Everyone knows Bonds cheated — along with many other MLB players — even Bonds knows he cheated. But that doesn’t matter now.
Over the past few years, baseball fans have been over-exposed to testimonials, stories, books, articles, documentaries and TV interviews leaving us with only a watered-down impression about the ethics of baseball.
But this steroid debacle should come as no surprise to knowledgeable fans in light of the game’s shadowy past.
Did you know baseball historians cannot pinpoint who created the game?
Then there was the introduction of the Negro Leagues in 1867, which with the help of segregation, lasted for almost a century until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.
Ty Cobb, who was the first to be inducted into the baseball hall of fame, was an outspoken racist and a rampant alcoholic.
He was a Triple Crown winner and has the all-time records for the highest lifetime batting average (.367) and runs scored (2,245) and he once ran in the stands during a baseball game and stomped a heckler half to death with his cleats.
Besides being “the Colossus of Clout” with his homerun accomplishments, Babe Ruth was a womanizer and a drunk. But his baseball prowess always overshadowed his off-the-field antics.
Cal Ripken Jr. far surpassed Lou Gehrig’s record by playing in more than 2,600 baseball games, but he was despised by his teammates in Baltimore. He was overbearingly arrogant, he refused to fly with his team or stay at the same hotel with them when they traveled.
And last but certainly not least, there’s the amazing and unbelievable record held by Dock Ellis.
To sum it up, Ellis was a popular pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates who once pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD.
When it comes to skill, the MLB uses the five tools of baseball ( hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability and fielding ability) and all of the records in the game were developed to gauge these skills.
In essence, the character of a baseball player does not apply to the official formula of defining who a good baseball player is.
Perhaps, we as fans are partially to blame since we embrace these players for their heroic athletic ability, and turn a blind eye to their less honorable traits.
And thus, when Bonds breaks the coveted homerun record in our beloved game, I hope a “six”-tool player will re-break it in our lifetime, and I hope we cheer for him.
— Deike is a staff writer for the Coastal Courier. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org