July 10 was the 2007 MLB All-Star Game, played in San Francisco. Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees were the top vote-getters for their respective leagues, based on the record 18.5 million votes cast by fans. Barry Bonds, meanwhile, becomes the oldest player to be an All-Star, at 42. Bonds was barely voted into his own hometown’s All-Star game, overcoming a deficit of over 100,000 votes and edging into the third and final starter’s slot in the final days of balloting. We can’t know for sure whether or not Barry Bonds actually used performance-enhancing drugs, but two things are certain. One, Bonds will hit more home runs than any other player in history. As of July 4, he needs only five more to break Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755. And two, in terms of Bonds’ legacy, that record will be equaled, and perhaps even eclipsed, by the drug controversy surrounding him, Bond is about to outshine one of the most impressive achievements in baseball history, and yet, he is appearing in his first All-Star game since 2004 and is roundly booed at every stadium besides his own.
Comparing Bonds to the great Hank Aaron is like comparing a grape to a watermelon. When Aaron was druglessly batting out homers, he was using a bat made of ash wood, a real baseball, and hitting it over a fence much further away than the puny distance from the homeplate to the first row of seats in today’s stadiums.
Bonds is using a computer-designed ‘sweetspot’ metal bat, and a ball whose internal guts of synthetics adds spring unheard of in Aaron’s day. Can we compare today’s racecar driver who averages 200 miles per hour with a driver of the 40’s on an equal basis? Hopped-up fuels increase speed, and hopped up baseball players together with distance enhancing bats and balls ensure record breaking.
Yes, baseball was a wonderful game, …until it turned from a sport into a business.