Quickly approaching is the day that will inevitably capture the attention of every baseball fan in America. Barry Bonds is undeniably going to reach his milestone 756th homerun and take over the new all-time Major League Baseball homerun record from slugger Hank Aaron. What is that memorable day or night going to be like? How will the likes of Bonds and the fans react? Where will Hank Aaron and Bud Selig be? And what will the world think about a new home run record-holder?
Bonds comes into tonight’s game needing 11 more dingers to break Aaron’s record, standing at 745. With each of Bonds’ at-bats, the moments will be unforgettable. At the rate that Bonds is crushing homeruns, I predict that the quest to break the record will be accomplished on Friday night, June 15 in Boston against Curt Schilling.
Most recently, the outspoken Schilling ran his mouth inappropriately against Bonds by calling him a cheater “… on his wife, … on taxes and … on the game.” Bonds’ response: Schilling’s name will go in the record books with him.
Bonds is a player who has always made enemies – never allies – of his teammates and the media. For him, this moment will be a very self-rewarding achievement. He is someone who prides himself on what he does. As he circles the bases after number 756, I imagine that he’ll go a bit slower than usual to savor the moment. He may not get the love he would have received at home but, trust me, every true baseball fan knows that this is a major accomplishment.
Bonds has always been one to let emotions get to him and, while he will say that the only person he cared about passing on that list was his godfather, Willie Mays, this record will prove to be much more important than even he expected. The patented point to the sky in memory of his father will mean a bit more this day and, although there are so many “clouds” above his head, he will believe that everyone loves him and that he is the best baseball player to ever put on a glove.
But what will others think? Hank Aaron has made it clear he will not be there on June 15, or any other day that Barry Bonds will be playing. He doesn’t believe that the new record holder has earned his name in record books. Aaron played the game in a tremendously different era, and while Bonds’ and Aaron’s careers only failed to overlap by just 10 years, it seems like they played in different centuries. Aaron had bigger ballparks, more dominant pitchers and, oh yes, I don’t believe he had steroids. Aaron has been quoted as saying, “I don’t want to be around that sort of thing anymore.” While Aaron will most likely be golfing on this glorious Friday afternoon, he still believes that he represented how to do it the right way.
For Bud Selig, this will be the most dreaded day of his tenure as baseball’s commissioner. In all my life, Selig has done nothing to win me over. However, he must be there for this moment. Speculation of steroid use or not, the most recognizable record in the sport is being broken. To further fault Selig, it was his failure to protect the game from steroids in the first place. Bud will be on the field shaking Bonds’ hand and regretting that he couldn’t confirm the allegations.
Bonds will leave the stadium that day with his proud children and supportive teammates, knowing that he is the real home-run champion. For him, the record will be enough, and when he strides to the plate the next day, he won’t care what anyone else thinks – not what Hank Aaron thinks, not the commissioner – he won’t even care that he put a smile on my face.