A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: August 8, 2007
NORTH CAROLINA – Now that Barry Bonds has surpassed the legendary Hank Aaron for most home runs in Major League Baseball history, we must give commendation for the stunning accomplishment most believed would never be obtained.
Like him or not, you must acknowledge Bonds and his new home called “immortality”. From all accounts, Bonds is a prima donna, he can be somewhat aloof and simply not a nice person to be around although a fewof his teammates past and present would contradict some of those attributes.
However, someone like Bonds and his alleged obnoxious character only tells the story off the field, not his talent and capabilities on the field. If Bonds is found guilty of the steroid allegations, then we can examine how much of a detriment the steroid use factored into his career (although that will be a difficult task).
But until then, Bonds is innocent until proven guilty, Bonds has never failed a drug test and we should try an appreciate the new home run champ and the significance of 756. The court of public opinion has already found him guilty primarily because of the main stream media, MLB officials and some with an agenda who are conducting a “witch hunt” and who want so very much to hear prosecutors say “guilty”.
Commissioner Bud Selig, no matter his personal affiliation, affection, friendship and alliance with the former home run king, should show some approbation and adoration for the game and the historic milestone.
For baseball to try and discredit the accomplishment of Mr. Bonds is ludicrous considering the allegations of steroid use have not been proven and the fact others have been found to have used steroids or performance enhancing drugs or creams.
If Bonds is guilty and should be punished, then baseball must pursue others like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others with the shadow of “cheating” lurking over their heads.
MLB is not the only culprit in this matter. Their are other parties and elements involved leading to the negative persona of Bonds and the general public’s dislike and animosity towards him.
The media: Most of the mainstream media is filled with acrimony when it comes to Bonds. The negative stories, the negative reporting, the “guilty until proven innocent” mentality (i.e., Michael Vick) shapes public perception. Media outlets like ESPN monopolize the sports information world and gives the public only the information they want you to have.
The irony of outlets like ESPN, is the eagerness to broadcast the games as Bonds pursued Aaron’s record for financial gain and ratings which is a microcosm of the media in relation to most black athletes. They have a general dislike for African American athletes and at the same time would die for an exclusive interview with the very same athlete they criticized.
Hank Aaron: As time passed and Bonds began to get closer to breaking the record, I lost some respect and admiration for Mr. Aaron. I know their was animosity between Aaron and Bonds’ iconic godfather Willie Mays, but Aaron seemed to develop a case of “grumpy old men”.
Records are made to be broken and although the record he possessed seemed “unbreakable”, it was still a record, which makes it “plausible”. Additionally, he knew Bonds and others like Alex Rodriguez and even Ken Griffey Jr prior to injuries, have great ability and a legitimate chance to surpassed the seemingly untouchable 755 .
Aaron showed his abhorrence and antipathy b y congratulating Bonds on a video tape rather than attending the game and passing the torch on to Bonds the correct way. A call or a visit in the upcoming days to me would have been much more personal. The family of Roger Maris were in attendance the day Mark McGuire broke the single season home run record surpassing Roger Maris.
Why would this accomplishment be any different? It was an historic moment and record and the Maris family understood and did the right thing. Besides, Aaron needs only to remember the past, when he was the target of criticism, hate mail, negative media, racism and death threats in his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s record. If Aaron doesn’t embrace Bonds, why would anyone else?
African Americans: One of the problems existing with African Americans is the lack of history and their short term memory. For example, Illegal immigration. I know it’s not a sports issue it’s a social issue but it does give account to the Bonds topic. Most Americans have a problem with illegal immigration and usually relate Mexicans coming over the border as the main offender. Most also believe Mexicans should be deported. Some African Americans engage in this detrimental thinking. I don’t believe people should be here illegally but I do believe if they become citizens legally, the USAa should be their home.
African Americans who want Mexicans to be deported back to their native country have a short memory. It was less than 40 years ago when President Johnson signed the “Civil Rights ACT” giving African Americans the opportunity to vote and involved themselves in the American dream. What African Americans fail to remember is the rhetoric we hear now about Mexicans today was similar in the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and even some present day circles. This is also the reason African Americans should remember baseball history. Bonds is faced the same challenges as Hank Aaron and will continue to probably for the rest of his life. Hate, death threats, negative articles and stories and doubts about his legitimacy. How soon we forget.
Race: If you asked me six months ago if race is a factor in the detestation and disgust with Bonds, I would have said no, but after examining the situation and listening, viewing and reading all of the piles of negative discussions about Bonds and overwhelming statistical division in relation to Bonds based on race, I must retract my earlier answer.Their are many who believe Bonds undermines the integrity of the game when most who aligned themselves with that kind of thought process seemed to lack integrity.
They have the audacity to send hate mail using racial slurs but lack the courage to sign their name even if it’s a first name. They hide and disguise themselves behind his alleged use of steroids or performance enhancing substances, they creep around reasons like his arrogance, They even shield themselves with their unbelievable hatred for the Giants uniform they wear. The real reason they live in the dark world of hatred for Bonds is the color of his skin. Are their non-African Americans and even African Americans who have a negative opinion about Bonds because of reasons I just mentioned, sure, but that percentage is in the “minority”.
Sometimes no matter what you do, who you are and what you accomplished, some people will still hold animosity towards you.
We must remember the history of Major League Baseball. Their has always been controversy. From the “Black Sox scandal”, to a players strike, to Pete Rose to the steroid era. Baseball always seems to be the first sport to become outraged when someone or something is undermining the integrity of the game yet they allow these things to occur.
Did anyone complain about the lack of integrity when players like Bonds, Sosa and McGuire were launching balls out of the parks and fan attendance increased? What of the players from the past who cheated or were alleged to have cheated. Gaylord Perry, the Niekro brothers and other pictures were routinely applying a substance to the ball illegally and no one was outraged then? Instead, it was said to be ” part of the game”. Many speak of Bonds and his body, head and feet growing as evidence of his steroid use.
Why isn’t anyone questioning Roger Clemens or players alike who seemed to get stronger as they get older? Why is Bonds performance solely based on his usage of the steroids while Clemens reason is based on his tough off season workouts?
Let’s not forget the other milestones Bonds can achieve before he retires. He is less than 100 hits away from 3,000 and is closing in on 2,000 RBI’s. Did steroids enhance his ability to see the ball better and drive in runs? Did it enhance his instincts in stealing bases or making a great catch in the out field? I think we know the answer.
Whether you like him or not or you think MLB should put an asterisk by his accomplishments is debatable. Keep in mind their are many accused of using steroids in this era as many have been caught cheating in other era’s but only one person can claim the number 756 .