[Note: This Blog entry was written before Barry Bonds broke the Home Run record last night. Please see updated comments at the end of the Blog.]
Whether you think Barry Bonds used steroids or not, you can't deny that the manner in which the "Commissioner" of baseball is treating this historic moment is just simply – wrong.
First, "Commissioner" Bud Selig waits until the very last minute to say whether or not he's going to attend the games in which Bonds has an opportunity to tie and/or break the record. When Bonds' was finally within reach of the most famed sports record of all-time, Selig stated, "Out of respect for the tradition of this game, the magnitude of the record, and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, I will attend Barry Bonds' next games to observe his potential tying and breaking of the home run record, subject to my commitments to the Hall of Fame this weekend. I will make an additional statement when the record is tied."
What a sigh of relief. The "Commissioner" had come to his senses and realized he needed to be in attendance.
And then it happened -- Saturday, August 4, 2007. In the first inning, Bonds hits the homer to tie the mark. Selig, in attendance, stands, puts his hands in his pockets and looks on emotionless. Not a clap, not a smile…nothing. He might as well have sent a cardboard cutout, for had there been a slight wind blowing in the direction of cutout, it might have swayed back and forth -- thus showing more emotion than Selig did when the historic moment came.
After the game, Selig, who turned down ESPN's offer for an on-air interview after the record was tied, said, ""Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League Baseball's home run record. No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable."
He continued, "As I said previously, out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, either I or a representative of my office will attend the next few games and make every attempt to observe the breaking of the all-time home run record."
Brings tears to your eyes doesn't it?
If in fact "all citizens in the country are innocent until proven guilty" as the "Commissioner" claims, why is he then showing such disrespect to Bonds and the events surrounding this historic event?
Before you sit there and judge me or think that race has anything to do with what I am saying, the same questions should be asked to Hank Aaron who stated earlier this year that he wouldn't attend any of the games period. Was Hank being holier- than- thou and thumbing his nose to Bonds because he thinks he's guilty of using steroids (before anyone of authority proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt?) or was it sour grapes because he's no longer the home run king? You be the judge.
Do I think Bonds used steroids? Probably. Do I think he should be punished for it? No!
Up until Congress hauled Baseball's ass into Congressional hearings, Baseball turned a blind eye to something that everyone else seemed to know – ball players were on the juice. For years they, and when I say they I'm speaking about the almighty Player's Association and the Owners, didn't blink an eye when the subject was brought up. It was only after Congress said fix the problem or we will, was something done.
What I find amusing, is no one seems to remember how badly the "Commissioner" was during the first round of Congressional hearings. If you can't remember, think Mark McGuire. Selig was just as bad and maybe even worse. But, now that baseball has adopted a policy, he seems to think he can walk around with his head held high while looking down on those who may or may not have used performance enhancing drugs in the past. The past being when they weren't tested and everyone pretended it wasn't happening.
It's a shame everyone has such a short memory when it comes to items such as this. Barry Bonds very well may have cheated, but Baseball allowed it by not saying or doing anything about it. And in that case – they too must continue to shoulder part of the blame and an asterisk when it comes to the topic of steroids.
One other note -- even if Bonds used performance enhancing drugs, you can not deny the achievement is incredible. How many professional wrestlers, you know the big guys who still use steroids, could hit 755 home runs? It's not just the drugs people.
Still, if he's guilty, it will come out and he will have to deal with the fallout. As will and should Baseball for doing NOTHING to fix the problem back in the day.
["Commissioner" a former Major League Baseball Owner, turned head of the game. Why? Because the owners got tired of hiring Commissioners they couldn't control.]
Update: As you may/may not already know, Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record last night in the fifth inning of the game.
While historic, it almost seemed anti-climatic. Bud Selig was not in attendance for last night’s game. He instead decided yesterday, of all days was the day he should meet with George Mitchell to get an update on his steroid investigation. He did however phone Bonds once he was pulled from the game in the sixth inning, and had two representatives in attendance, one of them Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, on his behalf.
Hank Aaron, whom I took a swipe at earlier in this Blog posting, made an appearance via video after Bonds broke his record mark.
In his recorded message, Aaron said, “I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader. It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination.
He continued, “Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball, and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams." Throughout the message, Aaron flashed that smile that he is so famous for, and his words, while somewhat measured, seemed to be from the heart.
In the end it was classy and fitting tribute for the man formerly known as the Home Run King.