What’s it take to get an indictment around here, anyway? How about a strained knee ligament? Nothing serious, of course, just a little something to keep a bad guy out of the middle of his lineup so that a good guy can stay at the front of his line.
(Maybe Tonya Harding’s not busy? Perhaps she can actually do the sports world a little bit of good this time around?)
Despite what you may think, what we’re looking for here isn’t anything nefarious. To the contrary, our true desire is only for a bit of justice. Justice for Barry Bonds. Justice forHank Aaron. Justice for the game of baseball and for justice for its history.
Now I understand completely that the majority "we" I speak for very likely does not include "you," the Giants fan. You’re loyal to your hometown team, as you should be, and to its hometown star. As such, you are forgiven for not joining the rest of us in rooting for some sort of divine intervention that will stop Bonds from literally stealing Hammerin’ Hank’s place in history.
The rest of us, you see, view things on a plane higher than that of ordinary Giants’ fans — we see things first as baseball fans. And to good, honest, God-fearing baseball fans such as us, watching Bonds on this inexorable march toward home run number 756 is like watching six straight months of Rosie O’Donnell on The View: Painful.
Honestly, we’d rather endure five minutes alone with Jack Bauer — in possession of information that he really, really wants — than have to watch The Human Pin Cushion circle the bases 19 more times, destroying forever the most hallowed individual record in all of team sports. And judging by Bonds’ two home runs in Friday’s win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, our prayers of Father Time simply eroding Captain Dynabol’s skills before he reaches the Hammer’s mark are destined to go unanswered.
Back in 1988, virtually the entire sports world held its collective breath when the United States’ Carl Lewis crouched in the blocks to begin the men’s 100-meter final in the Seoul Summer Olympics. Lewis was America’s modern version of Jesse Owens, having won four track and field gold medals in a single Olympic games in 1984, but he was facing the greatest challenge of his career in Canada’s Ben Johnson.
The Lewis camp had spent much of the previous year feuding with Johnson over unproven allegations of steroid use and performance-enhancing drugs. Johnson’s people angrily denied the reports and dismissed Lewis’ complaints as little more than fearheading into the Seoul games.
I recall in great detail the disappointment and frustration I felt, as did many Americans, when Johnson broke our hero’s heart with his world-record time of 9.79 seconds, taking the gold medal and running away with it. And I also recall the enormous feeling of redemption three days later when Olympic officials announced that Johnson had indeed cheated and was being stripped of the gold medal and the world record. Justice had been done and Lewis once again took his place at the top of the track and field world.
Sadly, that history will not be able to repeat itself when Bonds cheats his way past Aaron later this summer. There will be nothing to do but watch when Bonds raises his needle-tracked arms overhead, exulting in his moment of tainted triumph. There will be no Olympic body to save the sport three days later with the announcement of a positive steroids test, because unlike the Olympics, baseball saw no need to drug test its players during Bonds’ metamorphosis into a balloon-headed body-builder.
The day that no one outside of San Francisco wants to see is coming and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. But there is one thing we can do to show our support and solidarity with Hank Aaron once more, and that is to emulate him. The Hammer has confirmed that he has absolutely no plans to be in attendance the day Bonds swings his mighty syringe for that historic 756th time, and we should join him. Here’s hoping that a nation of baseball fans simply looks the other way when Bonds "creams" that pitch and watches it "clear" the wall.
We know we can’t stop it, but whether it’s live or on TV replay, we can join Hammerin’ Hank in saying we sure as hell don’t have to watch it.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.