Why do we care about Barry Bonds anymore? The media surrounding him has been more than overwhelming, but for what reason? There’s much greater things going on in baseball right now. Why is everyone so fascinated with this tainted Giant? Can’t we all just focus on the brighter things the MLB has to offer? Like the story of the year, the Detroit Tigers. Here is a team that was 43-119 just three years ago, and now they have sustained the greatest record in the majors. Ever better, they are playing above the level of the defending World Champions, the Chicago White Sox. This White Sox-Tigers rivalry could turn out to be not just the most entertaining divisional race in baseball, but in all of sports. Why can’t the media focus its attention on another slugger, the White Sox’s Jim Thome? He has become a mortal lock for the comeback player of the year with his AL-leading 20 homers and 49 ribbies, and this is after an injury-marred 2005. Thome and his team have the potential to start a dynasty and reel off multiple championships. Shouldn’t this get more coverage?
And how about the best reoccurring theme in all of sports, the Yankees-Red Sox divisional battle? There are so many interesting stories within these two teams, so many things to talk and write about. Like A-Rod’s disappearance after last year’s MVP season, Jon Papelbon’s out-of-nowhere emergence, the Big Unit becoming average, or Johnny Damon’s switching of teams. You’d think that when the top two media-attention-receiving teams are within a game of each other for the division lead, they would be more talked about than an over-the-hill, cheating, tired, former superstar. I guess that’s just not how things work anymore.
Here’s another underrated story: the regression of the Los Angeles Angels. This was a team that won the World Series in 2002, featured an MVP in 2004 and a Cy Young winner in 2005, and made the ALCS last year. This year? They’ve touched last place in the major league’s weakest division, are five games back of the leader currently, and have the 22nd best record in the league. But it seems like no media member has even noticed. Any time that a usual playoff contender being thrown into last isn’t a major story, you know something’s wrong.
Now to the Earth’s media capital, New York City, where the first place Mets have barely generated any attention. This is a team that was comparable to the Knicks a few years ago (many free agents, little production), but this year everything is working and they are sailing through the division. You’ve got young star David Wright, pitching powerhouse Pedro Martinez, and free agent signings Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado are coming through. And the team is looking to end one of the most incredible streaks in sports–the Braves’ 14 straight division title runs. Don’t tell ESPN about this though, they have no idea.
Now onto the human asterisk’s own division, the NL West. Every team’s a story in this division, where a .500 record puts you in last place. Last year’s division champions, the San Diego Padres, are tied for last, while the Diamondbacks are in first. Remember when they won the World Series, behind Johnson, Shilling, and Luis Gonzalez? There’s a slugger who never juiced up, that’s for sure…
But the most interesting story of this baseball season has been the emergence of another great slugger, the one who has the ability to hit 74 and make us all forget about that past era. He is Albert Pujols, and day-in-and-day-out he reminds us that you don’t have to cheat to be great. Every real baseball fan wants him to surpass 73, so the controversy over the asterisk is eliminated, so we all know who the home run champion truly is, so the real homerun record (Roger Maris’ 61) is finally surpassed. Only Pujols has the ability to do this out of every slugger in this era. Maybe this is his year that he will finally start a new era, forever ending the Steroid Era and all of the painful memories it comes with. No one wants this controversy, and as baseball fans we really don’t deserve it.
And so here we come back to Bonds, who has received more attention than anyone asked for and that anyone could possibly need.
Do we need another feature article proclaiming that he cheated and that he should retire? No, for this is just like a column that states terrorism is bad, or that links Osama bin Laden to 9/11. Everyone knows Bonds cheated, whether they want to believe so or not, and everyone wants him to secretly go away.
Do we need more columns pondering why Bonds leads the league in intentional walks and stating that teams should start pitching to him? No, because everyone knows he is not the player he once was. Everyone knows that he lacks the strength that led him to 73 and MVPs at ages where most players retire. It is too obvious, and it is sad in a way. We all know that Bonds could have had 500-600 career homeruns even without steroids. But we also know that he did use them, and it is this fact alone that renders everything we hear about Bonds pointless. We should just view him as a faded star in his twilight, and give him the attention that Emmitt Smith got with the Cardinals, or Jerry Rice with the Seahawks.
But wait, doesn’t he deserve some attention, for 715? But 715 is just a number, and it is meaningless when connected with Bonds. He did not deserve 715, he doesn’t deserve to be mentioned alongside players such as Ruth and Aaron. They are the real homerun kings of all time, and they will remain that way until somebody comes along and surpasses them. But now that Bonds does have 715, that is further reason to forget. Why should we care if he reaches 716 or 720? No one should care, because Babe Ruth will be the last player Bonds ever passes.
So why isn’t he viewed just as an old, faded star among a league with more exciting things happening? This remains a mystery to me and millions of others who don’t care for another Bonds montage or article. He will eventually go away, likely after this season, and then we will finally be able to watch baseball without worrying about cheating players. After all, aren’t there more exciting things going on?