Walk Away Barry, Just Walk Away

He has 708 homers, seven MVP awards and is the only member of the 500 home run and 500 stolen base club. I could go on forever describing why Barry Bonds is one of the best players of all-time. This is the type of man who should inspire us all, as he proves the impossible is possible. So why was I happy when I heard he might walk away after this year without breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record of 755?

I asked myself this question, and wondered why I, an avid baseball fan and amateur baseball historian of sorts, would pass up the chance to see the breaking of arguably the most sought-after record in all of sports. Even if you are not a fan of him, wouldn’t you secretly, deep down, root for him to pull it off, if only for the novelty of seeing him accomplish such a feat? Isn’t that what all of us hope for when the realm of human greatness is within one’s grasp? Yet, I’m rooting against him.

One reason might be that Barry Bonds, aside from being a great baseball player, is a known complainer. He has fought with teammates, alienated himself from the media and cheated on his wife. He is moody, arrogant and self-serving all at once. Barry grew up as the son of a famous major leaguer, Bobby Bonds, and his godfather is the great Willie Mays. He never really knew what it was like to work for what he inherently received, as he was given everything he would ever need – be it talent or money.

Simply put, Barry Bonds is really just a spoiled brat. I can respect a man who’s just plain mean. I can respect a ballplayer that spites other players and does what he needs to do to win. But a brat? I refuse to admire a man who makes my rotten little cousin look like Maximus from “Gladiator”.

Bonds’ only flaw isn’t just his diaper; he is also damaged goods. With the BALCO scandal and steroid accusations turning into rhetorical questions, Bonds’ legacy is already marred. He’s like a cute girl, who immediately is downgraded by an entire group of friends once she hooks up with the gigolo of the group. It’s not that she’s less attractive; it’s just that she has been tainted by some other ugliness (in this case, the gigolo; in Bonds’ case, the steroids). Even a brief encounter can have a devastating effect and Bonds’ link to steroids was essentially the equivalent of the cute girl bearing the gigolo’s child. There’s no turning back at this point.

And yet, why can’t baseball greatness transcend character flaws? Barry Bonds is, in fact, one of the greatest to ever play America’s game and he’s as worthy as any player to own the record. Except that he really isn’t. Baseball is sacred. Yes, it has had some unsuccessful and ugly facelifts in the past and only faintly resembles the beauty it once was, but it’s still our national pastime. Character still counts for something in baseball.

Bonds is a man whose head has grown so drastically over the past decade that he is beginning to resemble his own bobble head doll (human growth hormone, anybody?). If a man with that many skeletons in his closet breaks baseball’s most sacred record, the transition will be complete from the most beautiful team sport ever created to a sport dominated by egocentric individuals. With all of the scandals that have plagued the sport, this record needs to stay in the hands of a hero more than ever before. That’s why this baseball fan is hoping for a clean break after this season. Barry, keep to your word and walk away. It’s what’s best for the both of us.

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