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Bonds ties Aaron


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Well one more to go and we'll have this whole affair behind us. Hurry up and get it over with would ya'?

Hello Hank

By Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports

August 4, 2007

SAN DIEGO – Barry Bonds reached Hank Aaron in the second inning Saturday night with a hard, opposite-field blast at Petco Park, his 755th career home run bringing a sellout crowd to its feet to cheer and to boo, the conflicting reaction matching a national ambivalence to the feat.

He is one home run from owning the record outright, a mark many consider the most sacred in sports, one that Aaron held alone since surpassing Babe Ruth in 1974.

Bonds approached it amid controversy, and matched it in the same environment, where his presence alone inspired polite applause along with symbols that accused him of serial steroid use late in his career.

Left in the on-deck circle in the first inning, several hours after taking early batting practice for the first time in recent memory, Bonds strolled to left field. As he did, fans along the third-base line stood, cupped their hands to their mouths and booed.

In the left-field bleachers, hundreds of them held white pieces of paper with black asterisks on them.

A handful hung over a stair railing in the left-field corner, shouting and balling their fists.

Bonds led off the second inning, and Padres right-hander Clay Hensley threw a 2-and-1 fastball that he drove 382 feet off a façade in the left-field bleachers, ending a 2-for-18 skid since he hit 754 eight days ago.

When Bonds arrived at home plate, his son, Nikolai, leapt into his arms, and father and son remained embraced for several steps. He then accepted handshakes and hugs from his teammates and coaches, who lined up from the dugout to home plate. Bonds arrived at Aaron's side 21 years and two months after his first home run, struck in Atlanta on June 4, 1986, against Craig McMurtry. Hensley became the 445th pitcher to be victimized by a Bonds blast.

In between, he gathered and carried the expectations that came with his diamond lineage and five superb baseball tools.

He wasn't always a wonderful guy, but he was a great player, in almost all ways.

When his body was narrow and lithe, he stole most of his 514 bases and hit for power and average. In 1996, he had 40 steals and 42 home runs, a 40-40 club that counts only Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano and Bonds as members. When he thickened, he began to cover the final 300 or so home runs that would take him past his godfather, Willie Mays, then Babe Ruth and Aaron.

He was the National League MVP seven times, a Gold Glove winner in the outfield eight times, a batting champion twice, and a home-run champion twice, once, in 2001, when he hit 73, breaking Mark McGwire's single-season record from three years before.

Those are the numbers, the feats that represent the savage arc and consequences of his swing, along with a discerning eye, the combination of which also made him the all-time walks leader.

On statistical abundance alone – he's also nearing 3,000 hits – Bonds' career is unique, and arguably the finest in baseball history.

Bruce Bochy, the Giants' first-year manager, said that watching Bonds in the batters' box, even in his early 40's, has left him with a single conclusion.

"You realize how much better he is than the rest of us," he said. "You're seeing what could be the greatest player to ever play the game."

And yet the final decade of Bonds' career will have been sullied by evidence he spiked his body with performance-enhancing drugs, and his numbers with them, leaving his home-run records open to interpretation, along with, perhaps, his Hall of Fame merit.

As Commissioner Bud Selig said upon arriving in San Francisco to witness Bonds' final push to Aaron, "Everybody has to make their own judgments."

Bonds apparently has not tested positive for steroids, though baseball only initiated its current program of testing and discipline in 2004. According to "Game of Shadows," the book written by two San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporters, Bonds was driven to illegal performance-enhancing drugs late in 1998, following the season Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa surpassed Roger Maris' record 61 home runs. McGwire hit 70, Sosa hit 66, and Bonds hit 37.

Convinced McGwire and Sosa were on steroids and incited by envy, according to the book, Bonds reconnected with childhood friend and bodybuilder Greg Anderson, beginning a chain of events that would lead to a relationship with BALCO owner Victor Conte, a federal investigation, a grand-jury indictment and testimony that he'd done steroids unknowingly, if at all. A second grand jury currently is investigating Bonds for perjuring himself in that testimony and for tax evasion, and Anderson is in prison for refusing to cooperate with it.

After injuries cost him much of the 1999 season, Bonds hit a career-high 49 home runs in 2000, then 73 in 2001, a season in which he turned 37.

In December, it will be four years since Bonds' testimony. More than 200 major- and minor-league players have tested for steroids. Current and former major leaguers Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago and others also were implicated in the BALCO investigation. McGwire and Sosa, the power hitters Bonds once chased, have fallen under suspicion. But it is Bonds who bears the weight of an era that splashed up on the entire sport.

"My impression?" teammate Dave Roberts said. "From the outside, I had a certain opinion. Now that I'm closer to it, I think he's getting a raw deal, plain and simple. … He's taken shots from everybody. After a while, you clam up. People take him as a bad guy because of it.

"He's never tested positive. The people that know him best – teammates or guys who play against him – those are the people I listen to. And I love having him as a teammate. I don't know how he's dealt with it his whole career. Some of it might be warranted, but it goes both ways."

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It is sad that he let his ego take him down a road of illegal enhancement, when he was already headed for a first time HOF election.

He did not need to take steriods to be a great ball player, but he did need them to break the steroid driven single season mark of McGuire and Hammerin Hank's clean record. Why was not being one of the best players ever not enough?

If anyone deserves consequences for steroid use it is Bonds. His testimony that he did not know what was in the "cream" and the "clear" is ludicrous, he went from being a great fielder and base stealer to a liability in the field and a bulked up HR hitter in a very short period of time.

Baseball used to be my favorite sport, but within the last decade or so it has lost all it's luster.

First Rose is banned from the HOF, the hits king denied entry because he bet on his team to win.

Now McGuire, Sosa and Bonds pervert the HR records with enhancement drugs and they will all end up in the HOF, sooner or later.

Can you imagine what Ruth would have done with steroids, hell if he just would have stayed sober more often Bonds or Aaron would never have caught him.

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Baseball used to be my favorite sport, but within the last decade or so it has lost all it's luster.

First Rose is banned from the HOF, the hits king denied entry because he bet on his team to win.

Now McGuire, Sosa and Bonds pervert the HR records with enhancement drugs and they will all end up in the HOF, sooner or later.

I don't always agree with you RBB, but I'm with you 100% on this. Baseball too was a love of mine, but not nearly so much anymore. Back in the heyday of "The Big Red Machine," I'd never miss a Reds telecast. Now I rarely catch one. It's luster is indeed long lost. :(


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No defense here for Barry. But I would like to see/hear more criticism of the hypocrisy that is Bud Selig. Whatever did or did not happen during those years, it was under his watch. If fans knew it, then so did he. And now he reluctantly shows up for the record-tying homer ... standing with hands in pockets. If Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and who knows what pitchers, etc are guilty, then the commish is guilty too. People need to speak up and force him to share the burden. Bonds more than likely deserves whatever he gets, but the burden should be applied across many deserving shoulders.

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