I fought with the decision to write something about Barry Bonds for a couple months now. I was very reluctant simply because his name was mentioned everywhere by the minute, and there wasn't really that much I'd be able to add. But now that he's broken Hank Aaron's home run record and the attention drawn to him has died down a bit, it's time to put some things into perspective.
While looking over some of Bonds's career statistics, I viewed one main thing that I had never really noticed before or heard anywhere. I figured that Bonds has stayed consistent during his career with power, and for the most part, he has. But, oddly, Barry Bonds only had one season where he hit over 50 home runs -- in 2001 where he hit 73, (SEVENTY THREE) homers! His next closest home run total was 49. It also seems rather strange that his highest home run total came at age 36 while playing in a large ballpark as well.
None of these observations, though, really prove anything. And the most important or even relevant question, for me at least, is does anything about performance enhancing drugs or steroids even have to be proved at all? People aren't stupid. I'm not going to bother to say go look at Bonds with the Pirates versus Bonds with the Giants. People have paid attention, and they aren't buying it.
Even though Bonds now owns, arguably, the most prestigious record in baseball, he's already lost much of the value it should have. Bonds has had his abilities questioned by reporters, analysts, previous legends of the game itself, and most importantly, fans. He has maintained that he has never used steroids or gained any advantage in that manner, but he's in trouble because every time his name is mentioned from now on, in any conversation about baseball, he will forever be linked to such words as steroids, asterisk, BALCO, and cheater.
Bonds continues to say that he doesn't care what other people think because he knows he didn't cheat. He wants everyone to believe that he's all natural and that's fine. At the end of the day, whether it's fair or not, whether Bonds really did use steroids or not now doesn't matter. He's already lost the battle -- many fans don't respect him, and even Aaron himself despises what Bonds has done for the game of baseball. Aaron can't even bring himself to talk to Bonds.
No one wants to have his or her abilities and accomplishments questioned. If someone creates a brilliant work of art, people don't want to find out later that the artist had the help of others who were never mentioned. If another person comes up with a tremendous idea or theory, people don't want to find out later that he or she stole the idea from someone else and just never gave anyone else credit.
Here's the point: Bonds undoubtedly put a significant amount of hard work to get to where he is today. He's an extremely talented hitter who used to be one of the games best all-around players. But it's also possible that he had a cheating hand that assisted him in certain steps along the way at some point in his career. The issue should not be whether or not Bonds did cheat because it won't matter down the road. He was a great hitter, but what's the real story?
He'll forever have a black cloud hanging over him. If he didn't cheat, he still allowed himself to be put in that situation with the people he surrounded himself with. And if he did cheat, really, no one would be surprised anyway.
It's not like this would be the first instance of an athlete disappointing fans and being dishonest.