Dickey: No. 756 will be a joyous day

If I read one more diatribe describing Barry Bonds’ drive for a career home run record as a “joyless trek,” I think I’ll barf.

Joyless? Not for the happy crowds at AT&T Park this year, nor for the thousands coming from around the country this week to try to witness historic No. 756. Not even for fans in other parks. Though they boo Bonds on cue when he’s introduced, they also boo their own team if pitchers walk him — and they cheer for his home runs. The fans at Wrigley Field on Thursday certainly realized that they were seeing something special when Bonds turned on the first pitch he saw and drove it through the teeth of the wind, completely out of the park.

Yet, there seems to be a campaign to blast Bonds. A member of the A’s traveling media told me he was amazed that there are anti-Bonds columns in newspapers of every city they visit.

“We go into a place like Kansas City and some guy is writing about how terrible Bonds is,” he said. “I have to wonder where he’s getting his information.”

Well, probably from reading what’s been written elsewhere. Welcome to the copycat world of sports journalism.

I predicted this more than 10 years ago when Bonds committed the cardinal sin: He let writers and broadcasters know that he didn’t care what they wrote or said because it wasn’t important. The ultimate insult. And I wrote that there would be a massive payback when writers, especially, got the opportunity.

The steroids issue gave them that opportunity.

Those close to the game know there is a high percentage of players taking performance-enhancing drugs, and those players are as often pitchers as hitters. Yet, writers have chosen to demonize Bonds, almost as if he were the only one getting medical help.

Writers also know that the talk of sanctity of records, even this one, is silly because conditions change. Babe Ruth didn’t have to play against the top black players of the time. Henry Aaron played a sizable part of his career in an Atlanta park that was called the Launching Pad because it was such a home run haven.

Now, conditions have tilted toward hitters — but not because of steroids.

When both hitters and pitchers are taking them, it is still a level playing field. But the ball was juiced after the ’94 strike to bring fans back, and a series of bandbox parks have been built in cities such as Philadelphia, Houston, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. (Ironically, Bonds plays his home games in a park that is death for other left-handed power hitters.)

All this means is that Alex Rodriguez, who is nearly at 500 homers at age 32, will probably break Bonds’ record during his career. So be it. People who are paying attention in any era know who the best players are. They don’t need the record book to remind them.

I’ve seen the Giants in each of their 50 seasons in The City. They’ve had some great players, including five who are in the Hall of Fame: Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda. Mays and Bonds have given me the most thrills. No amount of bile poured out by writers who are looking for payback can convince me that Bonds’ drive for the home run record is anything but a joyous occasion.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.


How will the country celebrate No. 756?

Share your comments below.

Glenn Dickeysports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

Steven Buss, left, and Sachin Agarwal co-founded Grow SF, which plans to produce election voter guides offering a moderate agenda. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Grow SF: New tech group aims to promote moderate ideals to political newcomers

Sachin Agarwal has lived in San Francisco for 15 years. But the… Continue reading

Most Read