Bonds gave up chance to redeem himself
When Hank Aaron was closing in on Babe Ruth's career home run record 33 years ago, he had to endure hate mail, death threats and derogatory remarks everywhere he went. Not because he was a classless individual. Mainly because he was a black man a...
When Hank Aaron was closing in on Babe Ruth's career home run record 33 years ago, he had to endure hate mail, death threats and derogatory remarks everywhere he went. Not because he was a classless individual. Mainly because he was a black man about to overshadow a white man's accomplishments.
Over the years, fans grew to admire and respect Aaron and his outstanding accomplishment. Now he has been pushed off the top rung of the home run ladder by another individual who has had to endure the fans' wrath. Only this time it's not so much because of the color of his skin. Now it's more because of his lack of class.
While it has not been proven that Bonds ever injected steroids into his body, it's a strong possibility that he's had some help based on several testimonials and the sudden increase in the size of his body and head.
Bonds is still a Hall of Fame player. Steroids or not, he's still had to hit a round ball with a round bat with such proficiency that he directs it toward the outfield seats. Whether or not he had an extra boost to get it over the wall 756 times remains to be seen.
Until then, he should be regarded as the game's greatest player.
Bonds had a chance to make everyone forget the steroids controversy and go out a winner, but he chose not to. He could have made the jaws of sportswriters across the country drop in unison. He could have made his family, his teammates, his opponents, his naysayers and even Aaron himself proud. But he elected to go after the tainted ring instead.
What the San Francisco Giants slugger should have done was called a press conference after he hit the 754th home runs of his career, one shy of Aaron's record. He should have positioned himself behind a podium, lifted his head high and spoke from the heart into the microphone.
"I am retiring from baseball. While I feel I have done nothing wrong, it is perceived by the public that I should not have this record. I have a lot of respect for baseball. It's been very good to me. I have a lot of respect for Hank Aaron and his accomplishments and I feel he should remain the home run king. I'd like to thank all those who supported me in my career. Thank you."
And he should have stepped down from the stage and said nothing more, not speaking to reporters as he has often done.
The media would have been left speechless. The nation would have been left speechless. The move would have even outclassed Aaron himself. Bonds would have gone down in history as a hero. His role model status would have skyrocketed more than it is now that he owns the record.
The gesture would have been perceived, however, by many as an admission of guilt. Still, the public is clamoring for Mark McGwire to tell us whether he took steroids or not after he refused to tell us during a congressional hearing question on the subject. That non-response kept him from being elected to the Hall of Fame while he likely would have been a shoo-in without the controversy. So instead of innocent until proven guilty, most scribes around the country already prosecuted him, much as they have with Bonds.
But Bonds would have been treated differently had he simply quit, regardless of whether or not he is guilty.
Instead, he chose to break the record and 50 years from now he will still be linked to a steroids controversy. Maybe in his mind, Bonds feels he did nothing wrong and deserved the record. Or maybe he truly enjoys being the villain and doesn't care what anyone thinks of him.
While Aaron would have done the honorable thing. Bonds, unfortunately, did not.