Stoner Steps

    As Bonds sits on the cusp of immortality, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss his latest quest for glory.

    But before I do, there’s one thing I have to make clear: I do not like Barry Bonds.

    I respect his athletic achievements, but I do not believe it gives him an excuse to be an egotistical jackass. However, this article isn’t about how much I hate Barry Bonds — anyone who really wants to hear more can call the sports office and I will tell them my exact feelings about Bonds.

    Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I’ll discuss why I support Bonds breaking McGwire’s home run record.

    First of all, I never thought he’d come even close. Even at the All-Star break — even in early September — I doubted him. But he has put himself in a position to do it and render yet another of my sports predictions incorrect.

    One of the main benefits of Bonds’ flirtation with the record books — besides allowing all my friends to remind me daily about how wrong I was — is the attention it has received.

    While not exactly equaling McGwire’s ocean of media coverage in 1998 when he broke Roger Maris’ record, it has still captured a lot of attention from the press, and more importantly from baseball fans. Across America, everyone is asking, “”Did Bonds hit another one today?””

    It has given many people something positive to focus on, something good to watch instead of the dire reports of imminent war, refugees, prisoners and biological warfare being run hourly on television stations.

    If Bonds sets a record, it will also be evidence of the evolution of athletes. When McGwire hit 70 in 1998 and no one else came close to matching that in the following two years, it raised the question of whether it was a fluke.

    But Bonds’ 69 homers, along with Sammy Sosa’s three recent 60-home run seasons, proves that athletes are pushing the limits and raising the standards of excellence.

    Also, Bonds hasn’t had the controversy McGwire had over “”nutritional supplements.”” There are still people who believe that McGwire’s name should have an asterisk by it because of that, which is absurd.

    If Bonds gets the record, he will prove that it can be done without any type of enhancer. While I don’t think supplements helped McGwire hit 70 home runs, I still think athletes should rely solely upon themselves for building and retaining muscle. I mean, I use protein powder after I work out, but I doubt I would ever use products like creatine that still haven’t been thoroughly tested for side effects.

    There are also a few reasons Bonds shouldn’t get the record. My concern is that baseball’s most illustrious record will have been broken twice in the last five years. What if someone breaks it next year? Or what if it gets broken every year? This excitement — this fervor and passion that exists now — will die off as people tire of the record being broken again and again.

    The way things are going, he might not even get a chance. Bonds is getting walked more and more, which irritates me. Bonds was walked twice and hit by a pitch Tuesday in a huge display of cowardice by Houston pitchers. Sunday against the Padres, Bonds only got one strike in 11 pitches after he hit his 68th home run the day before.

    At least give him the chance to break the record. This is torture. It’s like giving someone an extensive tour of heaven and then slamming the gates and sending them straight down to hell.

    Whether Bonds walks, or hits his way into the record books, will be decided by the Astros and Dodgers. Would they rather be remembered as the guys who gave up a home run to one of the greatest home run hitters of all time, or as the guys who were too scared to let him try?

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