Last night Barry Bonds hit his 756th career home run to become baseball’s all-time home run leader. I’ve always been a huge baseball fan largely due to the games fascination with numbers. Growing up, before the days of Bill James and park-adjusted OPS, one of the things that made baseball so interesting was that no matter the raw numbers, the arguments would go on and on as to which player was the greatest. I’ve always had a soft spot for Lou Gehrig, partly because I’m a big Gary Cooper fan and Pride of the Yankees is one of my favourite movies.
I remember Pete Rose collecting his 4,000 hit while playing for the Expos (I’ve never really been able to like the Blue Jays all that much), but before his gambling troubles, I remember Pete Rose as a player-manager for the Reds handing on to try and pass Ty Cobb, all the while his teams falling just short of winning their division.
When it comes to baseball I’m a traditionalist. I don’t like the DH, inter-league play althuogh I kinda like the wild-card. So watching Barry Bonds break the record leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Bonds is a player who truly appreciates the significance of what he has accomplished, and I suspect that if he can he will play next year, because he knows that 3,000 hits is also one of the benchmarks of baseball greatness and I don’t believe he will want to leave the game with that milestone not achieved. On the other hand, circumstantial evidence strongly points towards him having achieved his power numbers partly through the use of illegal substances and as such, his success shouldn’t be celebrated.
However, all sporting news isn’t bad. Yesterday was the first Tuesday in August which means the return of TMQ, the best NFL column around, (although he’s a little fixated on cheerleaders and often weak on his Biblical interpretations, this week being an exception).