Barry Bonds tied Hank Aaron with home run number 755 on Saturday night. My wife Sue and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary that evening at our woodsy getaway, and listened to the broadcast of the game on a transistor radio. Alex Rodriguez became the youngest man to hit 500 HRs, besting Jimmie Foxx by a few months (Foxx only hit 34 more in his injury-plagued final years, retiring at age 37), and Tom Glavine won his 300th game. The latter two events were of course lauded by both the mainstream and sports media, while Bonds got his usual dose of vitriol mixed in with the praise. All are noteworthy milestones. A-Rod has a legitimate chance to break every offensive record in the books. He is only 32, and in this age ballplayers perform at high levels into their 40's. Whoops! Did I say that? Hmmmmm. Let's see: Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and, uh, Barry Bonds, have all done things in their late 30's and early 40's that they were not expected to do. I remember hearing when I was a kid that there would be no more 300 game winners. I guess they must have put something in their Wheaties, eh? After all, Bonds is a cheater, right? A phony, chemically-juiced, artificial robo-player, am I right? But, Greg, Roger, Tom and Alex are real men. Pure. Un-enhanced. They can do these things because they have TALENT and DETERMINATION. Bonds took a bunch of drugs. He's fat and lazy and an egomaniac who has sullied professional sports. But Greg, Roger, Tom and Alex are great. They would never do anything wrong. Their milestones matter. But Barry? Screw him. 755 homeruns means nothing. I notice that Barry hit many of his 755 homeruns in two of the most difficult ballparks to hit in--Candlestick and the former PacBell, AT&T Park. (Hank played 10 years in Atlanta, the old Fulton County Stadium, known as "The Launching Pad.") I also notice that Hank had 13,940 plate appearances and made 9,136 outs in 23 years. Barry tied Hank with only 12,506 plate appearances, and only made 7,253 outs during a similar (22 years) span. Hmmmmm. And Barry has scored 2209 runs to Hank's 2174. Now Hank was one of the titans of the game, a real great. But in the two most important things in baseball--outs and runs-- Barry is better. In fact, Barry IS better. Period. Congratulations to Tom Glavine on his remarkable career, to A-Rod for his astonishing ascendancy to the pantheon, and to Barry Lamar Bonds for being the greatest player of the modern game, and without doubt the greatest hitter of his time.
(p.s. check out Baseball Reference, a stat heads dream site.)
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