Give Bonds a break

Some day soon, San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds will hit career home run No. 756, breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time record and putting the crowning touch on a career that includes seven MVP awards, 13 All-Star team selections, the single-season home-run record, and much more. It will be one of the supreme athletic achievements any of us ever will witness—and, when he does it, chances are he’ll be booed mercilessly.

Unless Bonds happens to break the record during a home game, abuse will rain down as he rounds the bases for No. 756. Regardless of where he does it, the baseball establishment and the media will downplay the achievement. Baseball writers from coast to coast will devalue his achievements and repeat rumors that he used performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids.

Remember: There is still no proof that Bonds used anything but his natural ability to do what he’s done, and until someone comes forward with something more than hearsay, he deserves to be acclaimed as one of the best athletes this country has ever produced.

So why won’t baseball give it up for Bonds? In a nutshell, it’s the media. Bonds has never concealed his dislike of sportswriters, and they have never passed up a chance to try to take him down a peg. That’s unprofessional, and it denies the public a true sense of perspective on Bonds’ career. No other player has had both 400 career home runs and 400 stolen bases. Bonds has more than 700 home runs and more than 500 stolen bases, and he’s also won eight Gold Gloves for fielding excellence. He has been the dominant player of his era.

Unfortunately, that has also been the “steroid era.” From the 1980s until 2003, when baseball finally banned steroids, their use among players was common knowledge, yet MLB and the media ignored the issue. Now, by focusing on Bonds, they are diverting attention from the guilt they share with regard to steroids.

We’re not having it. When Bonds rounds the bases for No. 756, we’ll be cheering him on. Let’s celebrate this astounding athlete and leave the booing to the haters.