Do you know who holds the MLB's all-time highest career batting average?
How about the number of points scored by the NBA's all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
Know who scored the most touchdowns in NFL history?
Maybe you do and maybe you don't, but one thing is for sure, those players and their numbers aren't on the tip of your tongue like Hank Aaron's record 755 career homers. It's a number that has stood as baseball's benchmark for power and consistency for 33 years and its days at the top are numbered.
Cause for celebration?
Well . . .
In theory, that would be the case, but we don't live in a world of theory. After all, in theory communism works -- in theory.
So, Barry Bonds' march toward history is being treated like a scabby band-aid -- let's just rip it off and move on -- and that's really a shame. People should be rushing to their computer screens or newspapers to see if Bonds homered the night before. Bonds' current home run status should be burned into our consciousness (he's at 751 as I scribble this). Baseball fans should be planning get-togethers once Bonds ties the mark in hopes of witnessing baseball history.
But they aren't.
And really I can't blame them.
Major League Baseball didn't create the problem of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport, but they sure weren't chasing Frankenstein's monster as it ran amok along the countryside. You combine that black cloud with a man who was considered a jerk the minute he stepped onto a professional diamond and MLB has their version of the perfect storm -- the most hallowed record in sports is about to be broken by an unlikeable science project.
Hey, life never turns out the way you plan.
Depressed Fan wrote a great post on his feelings toward Bonds and I'm really fighting myself on this situation. On the one hand, Bonds didn't engage in anything a slew of other players didn't also do (allegedly) over the years. Is it Bonds' fault that his "flaxseed oil" gave him god-like powers? Then again, just because "everybody else" was using their bodies as chemical factories, should I just look the other way and forget about it? No matter how much you Febreze this thing, it still stinks to high heaven.
Really, I'm just saddened for the sport. No, I'm serious. Sports are supposed to be an escape from the ugliness and tragedies of the world. You should be able to open up the sports page (or click onto your favorite site) and read about achievements and failures on the field. Who won? Who lost? How did it happen? Those innocent times are gone forever. Now, every player and his accomplishments are under suspicion. Is it fair? No, but nobody wants to play the role of fool again.
So, how to handle this? First off, there should be no asterisk. It's simply impossible to gauge what every other player in baseball was doing for the last 20 years. Bonds may be a jerk, but he shouldn't be singled out because he's breaking a record. Secondly, Bud Selig MUST be in attendance when Bonds brakes the record. If he's not, what does it say for the drug policy he has enforced as the commissioner of baseball? Everybody knows it sucked, Bud, but you're the "leader" of baseball. Get your ass in a seat and take it like a man. As for Aaron -- he dealt with enough when he was breaking The Babe's mark, he shouldn't have to be dragged into this circus.
As for me, I'll be watching, but with a heavy heart. It's always special when you get an opportunity to witness a record-breaking event. I wasn't a big Mark McGwire fan, but I felt "the chills" when he hit number 62 in 1998 (hey, how is Big Mac these days?) and I'm sure I'll feel the same when Bonds cracks 756. It's just unfortunate that it can't just be about baseball anymore.
Oh, and here are the answers to the questions 3 at the top:
Ty Cobb is Major League Baseball's all-time career hitter with a .366 average.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (aka Roger Murdoch) scored 38,387 career points in the National Basketball Association.
Jerry Rice scored the most touchdowns in National Football League history with 208.
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