Barry Bonds, the Haters and 756

Barry Bonds did it. Number 756 was a 435-foot blast on a 3-2 count off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Mike Bacsik. During the ceremony after he hit the record-setter, Henry Aaron appeared on the Jumbotron and congratulated Bonds. Bud Selig called Bonds in the clubhouse. And after the game Bonds said he is going to continue to play the game taught to him by his father, Bobby, and by Willie Mays.

With that said, a thank you needs to be extended to Bud Selig. Thank you for choosing to end the Herculean effort you undertook of following Barry Bonds and stopping in San Diego instead of continuing to the city where he would surely break the record, San Francisco.

It was so nice not to see the camera pan to you in a box or in a seat close to the field next to Peter McGowan with that vacuous look on your face; if it was accompanied by drool they could cart you away to an anonymous convalescence. It was nice because we didn’t have to watch someone remind you to stand up and act the part of commissioner of the national pastime. Though after 755 and being prodded to stand, you audaciously turned your back on Barry Bonds and the world, and showed that you are quite the ass.

Thank you Bud for saving us the chore of ciphering your every movement. Those of us who witnessed 756 did not have to watch you hem and haw on the field. We did not have to witness the scowl on Willie Mays’ face when he handed you the microphone. We did not have to witness you, Bud, on the field and unable to look Barry Lamar Bonds in the eye.

No more than 20 minutes after game’s end the onslaught of negative press began. Why this must happen is unknown. There is no good reason to purposely dampen Bonds’ accomplishment by rehashing a report and attempting to make it appear as if it was made today.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez was the second person to ask a question during the postgame press conference. Of course he asked something about the record and controversy. In a wonderful moment, Bonds summarily dismissed Gomez, looked to the opposite side of the room, and fielded another question.

With Barry Bonds, it seems difficult for many people to let “it” go. Even on the night when Bonds hits number 756, people won’t let “it” go. They are, as I am writing this, concocting their sad, hate-filled tales filled with unsubstantiated claims and calling them “facts.” They are on the phone, texting, emailing, and chatting with others who hate what was done at AT&T Park tonight. From Gomez to the San Jose Mercury-News’ Tim Kawakami to Joe Knucklehead blogger, they are writing hateful words. And the curious thing is, none of them know Barry Bonds at all.

Later during the press conference some reporter tried to be slick. He first asked about what was in Bonds’ heart as he rounded the bases. Then he asked about his feelings about the record being tainted. Minutes later, another reporter asked if Bonds had something to say to Greg Anderson.

Haters are sad.

ESPN’s Carl Ravitch pontificated to John Kruk and Eric Young about the negative newspaper articles and columns and the “.com” commentaries that will say the record is tainted and that Bonds is a cheater. Fortunately, most baseball players and pro athletes, in general, are beginning to understand that the press is ruthless in it attempts to paint Bonds in a negative light. They know the talk of steroids is also an indirect shot at them, too.

In response to Ravitch and the questions during the press conference Kruk said simply, “This is not the time for that” (the negative questions in the press conference)…. “He was the best then (when Kruk was a young player) he is the best now.”

And as Barry Bonds himself said in response to the reporter who asked about his record being seen as tainted: “This record is not tainted at all – at all…. Period”

* * *

The Grand Dame of baseball, Bob Costas, spoke again this morning. It is highly suspect that Costas suddenly popped up yesterday on Jim Rome’s radio show and then on the Mike and Mike in the Morning Show today. Though someone out there might have heard or seen Costas before on ESPN-affiliated media sources, I have not.
Costas, with former commissioner Fay Vincent after him on

Mike and Mike, used Bonds’ “tainted quote” against him. With Costas, though, I noticed that he has sounded a drumbeat for the phrase, from great baseball player, “one of the top half-dozen in baseball history, to superhuman.” He said this yesterday on Rome’s radio show and said it again this morning.

Costas is a great historian of the game and simultaneously speaks of the game with the wonder of a child and the knowledge of a god; he is arguably the Hermes of his time.

However, it is evident that as a commentator, his time has passed. The bitterness with which Costas speaks of Barry Bonds belittles, distorts, and – yes – taints the history of the game. Because of people like Costas, younger generations of baseball and sports fans and journalists will have an increasingly difficult time placing the baseball of the 50s and 60s in context with today’s game. This contextualization would be a task for someone like Costas.

But it is not. No man or woman can speak with the contempt Costas has for the greatest player to don spikes and relate the history of the game to the public in a reliable manner.

Any human who can look at the simple fact that Barry Bonds has hit 756 home runs, amassed 2915 hits and 1981 RBI in 2590 fewer at-bats – two thousand five hundred and ninety – than Henry Aaron and spit at it has no place in or around the game. When viewed with those at-bats in mind, Costas comes off more like a bitter revisionist – or a madman.

Sadly, Costas cannot be trusted.

The once “wonder boy” of television has gone from superhuman chronicler of sport to thief in the night stealing light from today’s athletes; quite like “the other side” of the god – Hermes – he so mirrors.

D. K. Wilson is one of the editors of the excellent website on sports, race and politics, The Starting Five.