Now, Can We Talk About Something Else?

About fifteen minutes ago, Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record, hitting his 756th career home run.  As I said to Kevin earlier in the evening, “I don’t like the guy, I don’t know why I’m addicted to this, but I swear I think I’d drop a baby in a burning building just to watch him at bat.”  Like pretty much every sports fan, on either side of the fence, I’ve been captivated by Bonds’ chase for the record.  I’ve spent hours debating it, days cursing it and months wishing it would never happen… so now that it actually has happened I’m more than a little surprised by how I felt.

Surprisingly, and much like the Grinch, my heart grew in size when Barry Bonds cracked a screamer into right field, and into the history books.  It was dramatic, a 3-2 count with a double and a single already to his credit.  The air was electric, even sitting on my couch I swear to you I knew it was going to happen tonight (which is why I was actually awake at around midnight, watching two teams I have no interest in play a relatively insignificant game).  There was something about Bonds, and there was something about tonight… something that made this more interesting that I’d expected.

It wasn’t the strained, obviously scripted speech wherein Hank Aaron “passed the torch.”  It wasn’t parading the aging, seemingly confused Willie Mays onto the field to stand near Barry.  It wasn’t the embrace of his family, the support of his teammates or the moving moment when he raised his helmet to the sky, breaking down and calling out to his father.  It was something else, something unexpected.

It was the look on Bonds’ face at the exact moment that he knew he’d done it.

You can best tell how a person is feeling by their initial reaction.  They haven’t yet had time to sift through emotions, mug for the camera or prepare a statement.  At that second, you’re seeing directly into their soul and into their heart.  As his dream-come-true sailed into the stands, Barry Bonds’ eyes didn’t scream out in joy or glaze over with revenge to those that doubted him… Barry Bonds looked relieved.  Barry Bonds may have even looked a little sad.

At that moment I saw a little boy, growing up in the shadow of his father and his even more successful godfather.  A kid who wanted to be what they were, contaminating his own legend for eternity in the process.  I saw a grown man at what should be the greatest moment of his career, even one of the greatest moments of his life, simply look happy to have it behind him.  The moment was somber, when compared to the unbridled joy of Hank Aaron’s triumph.  The fireworks predictable, the entire event more of a pageant than an exciting moment in baseball history.  For Barry Bonds, this moment will be his legend.

No one rushed onto the field to embrace him.  There was no fist-pumping as he rounded second.  No shots were called… no one jumped for joy as he hit home.  To put it bluntly, Barry Bonds’ moment in the sun will be more likely remembered for how thoroughly uninspiring it actually was than for its grandeur.

Barry Bonds knows that right now, and he’ll know that tomorrow.

So, no cheap shots.  I can’t do it.  I’ve never seen such a joyous occasion appear so sad, or at least so awkward.  I’ll never accept Barry Bonds’ record, neither will most baseball fans.  But one thing is certain, I no longer feel that he “got away with” anything.  The very moment that he undoubtedly dreamt of every night of his young life came and went with a fizzle.  Don’t take away the trophies, don’t take away the Hall of Fame, there’s just no reason to even bother.  He’s too arrogant to say it, but it’s all over his face:  what really mattered is already gone.

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3 Responses to “Now, Can We Talk About Something Else?”

  1. Brinton Says:

    I just wanted to say that your article expresses what I’ve felt about this thing the whole time. There was no way that he knew when he first started taking steroids that he would eventually break the greatest record in baseball. I’m sure in his mind hoped to be a great player, and make lots of money, and gain the adoration of the fans, but breaking that record would still have seemed like an impossible dream. By the time breaking the record began to look like a possibility, it was already too late. There was no way he could not do it, if he had any bit of self-preservation. He wasn’t going to just stop playing baseball. If he kept playing, eventually it was going to happen. For someone playing at that level they’re just not going to quit because it’s the honorable thing. They’re already sucked in by the money and the fame and even, believe it or not, for love of the game. He broke the record because he stepped up to home plate every time and did the very best he could do. Sure, he probably only had the strength to push it over the wall so many times because of the steroid abuse, but pushing it over the wall was part of his job, and as long as he was doing his job, the numbers were just going to keep adding up. Maybe at that last moment, as he heard the crack of the bat and saw the ball explode outward into the night, he realized he’d sold his soul, but the record itself was just a mile-marker on the way to hell.

  2. Kevin Says:

    I’m torn: I want to leave a comment, but you want us to now talk about something else. What do I do? What the hell do I do?

  3. Zack Says:

    Yes, a resounding yes to talking about something else. Has everyone forgot about Iran already?

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