Barry B*nds Supplants Hank Aaron As Home Run King

Barry Bonds Ties Hank Aaron With 755th Career Home Run
  Bonds: 755 
  Originally uploaded by MarkDM

The photo above is of hitting the 755th home run, the one that tied for the career home run record. Notice in the upper left hand corner: There is a person taking a photo who is wearing an asterisk shirt. Yesterday, he hit number 756 to take the record and I couldn’t care less.

Barry Bonds, Before & After
  Barry Bonds Before and After 
  Originally uploaded by gokmop

I have nothing against Barry Bonds personally. I don’t hate him or anything. I just think he’s a cheater. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to presume innocence but that’s in a court of law, not the court of public opinion. And except for San Francisco, I think the public has returned the verdict on the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Bonds took steroids.

I mean, c’mon! Some argue that every era has it’s cheating and this is just another part of that. But a corked bat or spit on the ball (or, if we’re talkin’ , here, an ) is a far cry from artificially improving your body, your power and reflexes, at the expense of your peers who are not taking steroids.

I heard an interview with , the convicted designer of the steroid Bonds is accused of taking, . The steroid is named that because it was specifically designed to be undetectable by steroid tests. Arnold was interviewed on Costas Now and he ridiculed Bonds’ claim that he didn’t know what he was taking. He also said that the steroid does improve reflexes and has the effect of putting athletes "in the zone."

There’s a world of difference between the manipulation of the physical objects within the game and the manipulation of the athlete’s body itself. I think ANYONE caught using steroids should be banned from the game and their records erased.

It is completely unfair to Henry Aaron, (though he’s not complaining), , and the rest of the top non-steroid era sluggers on the . I’d kick out not just Bonds, but and as well. I’m absolutely fine with that.

Historic Significance Of Hank Aaron’s Record

Hank Aaron Home Run King Baseball Card
I owned this card

I’m biased also biased against Barry Bonds, I should disclose. And the reason I’m biased is Hank Aaron. Let me tell you why.

On April 8, 1974, the day that Hammerin’ Hank Aaron broke ‘s career home run mark, I was a ten year old kid living in the suburb of New Brighton, Minnesota. My best friend at that time was a black kid named Arthur.

Art’s family was the only black family I knew of in New Brighton. There were some white neighbors the next block down who had adopted a couple of black children, but Art’s was the only black family probably in New Brighton at the time.

The only time I’d see African Americans back then was if we drove into Minneapolis or occasionally there would be a black kid on a little league team against whom we’d play. Mine was nearly an all white world.

As a ten year old kid, I did not think of race at all. Art was my buddy and that was that. The only time I was forced to think about race was when some kid made a racist slur against Art and it did happen sometimes. It was a dangerous thing to do, I thought, because I was pretty sure Art could have absolutely kick those kids asses.

I knew. I played football against him all the time so I knew how punishing he could be just playing a game. All knees and elbows, Art was. But we’d talk trash back and that was the end of it.

So back to April 8, 1974. Art and I were at his house messing around and Art’s father was in the other room watching a baseball game, the Braves against the Dodgers. Art’s father called him into the room:

"You gotta watch this," he said.

And so we watched Hank Aaron’s at-bat. We watched as Aaron took his majestic swing that sent ‘s ball deep, deep, deep as Dodgers outfielder scaled the wall, hoping to pull it in, only to watch it drop in the Braves bullpen where reliever caught it. We watched as the crowd erupted and Aaron rounded the bases and a couple of college students left their seats to trot alongside him. We watched as the crowd around Aaron grew as he approached home plate where his mother awaited him.

And I watched as Art’s dad pumped his fists in the air and scream and dance with delight. I thought, damn, he must really like Hank Aaron! I knew that Aaron had just broken Babe Ruth’s record and I thought it was cool and all, but I was absolutely oblivious about the significance of the home run as a racial equality event. I didn’t comprehend the extent of what Aaron’s accomplishment meant to Art’s father.

Not until later, of course. I found myself thinking of the experience often when my family moved to Indiana during high school and I saw routine, undisguised, in-your-face racism. I was fortunate enough that my parents raised me to treat everyone as I would like to be treated myself. They didn’t say anything about race, they just said to treat people decently.

Because of that upbringing, I was baffled with racism. I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could hate–hate–someone they had never met and had done nothing to deserve a drop of vitriol. But my experience in Indiana taught me that racism was inherited, that the racist kids that I knew had racist parents.

So I will forever be thankful for having the good fortune to be in Art’s home at that time. The experience prepared me for later life in so many ways. I was able to understand a lot about people as a result.

So, yeah, I’d rather have the person who breaks Aaron’s record earn it. While Hank Aaron will always be my home run king, I can always hope that stays healthy enough to surpass Bonds.

Go A-Rod!

See also:

links for 2006-03-29 – Twins Blogs

Kirby Puckett Memorial

The memorial will be held today at 7 p.m. at the Metrodome. Doors open and 6 p.m. Out of staters .

Locally, the memorial will be carried live on television on and . On radio, (1130 AM) and (100.3 FM) will broadcast the memorial. The Twins flagship station, WCCO AM, will not carry the even on air because of a previous commitment, but will have .

Technorati tags: | |

Kirby Puckett Park?

I wrote this for today’s issue of the Email newsletter:

proposed calling any new stadium Kirby Puckett Park. It’s not a bad idea.

An even better idea would be to finally, and at long last, solve our stadium problems. This session.

I know it’s an election year but I swear, every time I read another stadium story, lines from ‘s "" play in my head:

Lord, I am sooooo tired
How long can this go on?

We’ve been debating this issue for what, nearly a decade now? It’s long past time to deal with it and, in fact, time is quickly running out.

If the sad and tragically untimely death of and the subsequent outpouring of love for the man from Minnesotans far and wide demonstrate anything, it highlights the immense amount of joy that professional sports can provide a community. And for my money that, in itself, is a damn good investment.

Let’s face it, the , in trying to be all things to all people, fails in all respects. It’s a horrible place to watch sports–the sightlines are equally bad for baseball and football. Even in the 14th  row on the 50 yard line, the fans are too far removed from the action. Plus, the suites are truly horrible.

As a revenue-generating stadium–well, it’s not. That’s the reason we’re having this discussion. While most professional teams have modern, revenue-generating stadiums, the and the Twins struggle to compete as small-market teams.

The Twins and Hennepin County have an eminently reasonable plan on the table and the Twins are on a year-to-year lease with the Metrodome. Not getting a deal done now is practically begging Major League Baseball to revisit contraction.

The Vikings and Anoka County have an equally reasonable plan on the table as well. This is no Texas snake-oil. It’s a vast, jobs-creating sports/entertainment/retail real estate development project proposed by a man who has made a mint in real estate development. The economic benefits to the northern suburbs could be enormous, turning Blaine into similar to the .

The primary issue holding up the talks between the owners and the players is that the large-market and small-market owners . Revenue-sharing is the brilliant vehicle by which every NFL team has a reasonable chance for on-field success every year. The NFL has avoided ‘s problem where large-market teams like the and can essentially buy themselves championships.

If the owners can’t agree on revenue sharing and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association isn’t extended, the Vikings could win big in free agency. They could field a caliber team but you’d better hope they win the big one because in 2007, without the benefit of a modern, revenue-generating stadium, they will not be able to afford the exorbitant salaries that a salary cap-less environment promises.

The Vikings need a new stadium.

But while we’re dealing with stadiums, let’s deal with all the stadiums, so let’s get the ‘ problems solved as well.  I really don’t understand why they can’t use the Metrodome, why they must have an on-campus stadium. Are students somehow incapable of using shuttles? The Dome is, after all, practically right next door to campus. Regardless, let’s solve their problem, too.

The bottom line is this: The Twins and the Vikings will get their stadiums.  The only question is whether or not they get them in Minnesota. And if they leave, we will be a "cold Omaha." We will build new stadiums to attract new teams and it will cost us far more then than if we solve this problem now.

Technorati tags: | | | | | | | | | |

Kirby Puckett

Kirby puckett I often find it hard to describe to people who don’t really play a sport the absolute joy you can get from excelling at athletics. I should have known that all I needed to do was to point to , to how he smiled when he played, to how evident it was that he was thoroughly enjoying himself, as an example of the joy of the game.

The joy was evident when watching him play because you could feel his joy through his play. I have seen Barry Bonds hit home runs and it is an awesome sight; but watching Kirby round the bases after hitting the winning home run in Game Six? Pure joy.

It is so sad that Puck has died.

I’ve often thought that the notion of the athlete lends itself to tragedy. Sport is a young person’s game and athletic skill can only be maintained as long as the body allows it. But the body eventually degenerates and no matter how well an athlete cares for their body there will come a day when it fails him.

For someone for whom their sport had been their entire life since they were literally five years old; to have that joy taken away so suddenly like it was for Puck, that’s tragic. It’s tragic for the athlete because there is nothing quite like making your body perform those athletic feats that so few people can perform. It’s tragic as well because if, like Puck, the sport was their life, well, what is their life without the sport?

And for that reason it was all the more amazing that Puckett handled his tragedy with such grace and good will–don’t cry for me, he said.

I’ll remember the joy.

Technorati tags: |

Help Tony Oliva Get In Hall Of Fame: Vote!

In Sunday’s Star Tribune, Joe Christensen wrote about what could be Tony Oliva’s last chance at a spot in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame: The Latino Legends Team. Christensen writes that the Latino Legends Team "is baseball’s attempt to recognize the Latin-American history of the game, which was overlooked when no Hispanic players made the All-Century Team in 1999." He also argues that if Tony O has a chance to get in the Hall, he’ll need to be on the Latino Legends Team first.

It sure can’t hurt; and you can help. Major League Baseball is holding balloting at their website so go vote today! Balloting ends October 10.

It is an absolute shame that Oliva has not yet been voted into the Hall.

More About Tony Oliva:

New Orleans

After watching days of the horror that is the devestation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the Bush Administration’s absolute and deadly failure to respond to the catastrophe, it was a bit of tonic to read Star Tribune sports columnist Jim Souhan‘s ode to New Orleans as a sports town, sad though it is now that the city is, literally, dead.

The piece includes this wonderful line:

"Only in New Orleans could men persuade women to lift their shirts in exchange for beads, the most efficient use of trinkets since Europeans stole Manhattan."