By Tony McClean, BASN Editor In Chief
Updated: July 14, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared in BASN in July of 2007. “The question isn’t whether Alex Rodriguez will pass Barry Bonds in the home run speed lane, but when. As few as six seasons? Seven or eight, tops?”
– Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com.
NEW HAVEN, Ct. (BASN) — There’s an old saying that states “politics can make for strange bedfellows”.
I’m not sure who made the statement, but after another week in the continuing series of “Bonds Bashing”, you might wanna add sportswriters and athletes to that equation as well.
You sort of knew what kind of week it was going to be after Barry Lamar was chosen to start the All-Star Game at his home park. After chastising the fans for that decision, the media’s next move was to “demand” that he and Ken Griffey Jr. participate in the yearly “Home Run Derby”.
When the pair declined (especially Bonds), the response from the Bonds bashers was predictable. “There he goes again”, they said. “He’s alienating the very people who voted him in.”
“He sticking it to us, oops, I mean the fans, again”.
No disrespect, but didn’t it only seem that ESPN and these same old Bonds bashers took offense to Barry Lamar passing on the derby? Was there a major outcry from the fans?
Were babies thrown from the upper decks of AT&T Park in protest? Was T.O. asked to make a comment about the whole situation? I digress, but I think you get my point. But still, it wasn’t enough for these folks.
While ESPN’s SportsCenter has been honoring the career of the current home run king, Hank Aaron, the Bonds bashers have spent most of the week desperately seeking a successor to the next homer king.
While man-child players like Philly’s Ryan Howard and Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder have been mentioned as possible successors to Barry Lamar, the bashers have now anointed New York Yankee All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez as the next favorite.
I must admit at first, I fell for the hype. But then I started to remember how he’s been depicted over the years by the New York tabloids and the national media since his arrival to the Bronx.
This is the same A-Rod that many national wags have taken turns at either bitching about his salary or trying to psycho-analyze him.
This is the same A-Rod that Sports Illustrated just last year called “a baseball narcissus who found pride and comfort gazing upon the reflection of his beautiful statistics.”
I gotta tell ya, after looking back at that SI piece, the “strange bedfellows” quote is ringing in loud and clear. All season, the Bonds bashers have gone after Hank Aaron and any others for “not taking a side” in the whole Bonds affair.
They’ve now gone so far that their willing to “sleep with the enemy” in hopes that Bonds won’t keep the all-time homer title for long. Adding to his quote that began this article, Gene Wojciehowski of ESPN.com states, “Rodriguez is Bonds, but without an asterisk and steroids controversy attached to his wristbands.”
“At least, that’s the hope.”
Well Gene, I got some bad news for you and your buddies. If you fellas had bothered to read up on your baseball history, you’d already know that A-Rod will most likely NOT be the guy that surpasses Barry Lamar.
In fact, given baseball’s long history, the man who will be the next Bonds is probably not even on a current major league or minor league roster. Again, this isn’t some ranting from a Bonds apologist, I’ve got history to back me up here.
When Babe Ruth hit his 714th and final homer on May 25, 1935, it came just over a year after (February 5, 1934) Henry Louis Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama.
Consequently, when the Hammer hit his 755th and final homer on July 20, 1976, an 11-year old Barry Bonds was likely hanging out with his father Bobby in several MLB locker rooms.
In fact, while Aaron was making his run at history, many media folks of that period had tabbed sluggers like Willie Mays (ironically, Barry’s godfather), Harmon Killebrew, and Frank Robinson as the men most likely to catch Ruth.
As I’ve mentioned on several talk shows and previous columns, the national media looked at Bad Henry as sort of a “accidental tourist” in the pursuit of Ruth’s record.
Even as Aaron grew nearer to 715, no one really thought he’d reach the milestone. Needless to say, after the night of April 8, 1974, all that previous talk became meaningless.
The main point we’re trying to stress here is that even though the media would like to see someone other than that guy named Bonds be called the all-time home run king, Barry Lamar will most likely hold that crown for quite awhile after he attains it.
Ironically, the whole episode can really be summed up by these quotes.
“When you’re 250, or 400 home runs away, or 300 — whatever it is — I think it’s kind of ridiculous. But this is his (Bonds’) time. The talk should be about him, not me.”
That person being quoted is Alex Rodriguez, a man much wiser and much more aware than he’s ever been given credit for.
NOTE: Entering Thursday’s game at Seattle, A-Rod has 597 career homers in 17 seasons.