It was my sincere hope, after last October and this close to Christmas, to not have to pen another word about Barry Bonds until he was ceremoniously denied entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It was enough for me that his crass behavior had alienated even San Francisco area fans along with the rest of the nation – it was very telling that when he hit the home run that broke Hank Aaron’s home run record, number 756, that he ignored the open arms of his waiting son at home plate.
It was enough that Bonds, during his press conference following the game insisted that the record, “is not tainted. Period.”
It was enough that fashion designer and social pot-stirrer Marc Jacobs spent more than half a million dollars on the ball, and that Americans voted to stamp the thing with an asterisk before sending it on to Cooperstown.
It was enough that Bonds called Jacobs an idiot, and all the people who voted to brand the ball idiots as well. I personally voted to blast the ball into space.
Now, finally, it’s enough that Bonds has been indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Now all we need is for him to admit, finally, that he took steroids with full knowledge of what he was doing and the cycle will be complete. The record will still be his, but it will indeed need that asterisk.
Mr. Bonds, the record is tainted. Period.
I’ll make no bones about the fact that I’m not a fan. Babe Ruth fueled his home run record on beer and hot dogs; Aaron fueled his on class and guts. Bonds? We all know how he got it, and that taint, which he has so vociferously denied, infects the entire business of collectibles, especially sports.
Bonds memorabilia hasn’t exactly been an easy sell in the last couple of years; it wasn’t even before the stink of cheating had settled on his San Francisco Giants uniform. Bonds has never been a well-liked player, but he didn’t have to be. His natural talent was enough to make him a sure-fire first ballot electee to Cooperstown. When his numbers rapidly swelled in proportion to his head, that already slow market came to a trickle. There was a brief uptick in 2001 when Bonds smacked 73 dingers in a single season, but this was quickly overshadowed by the allegations of steroid use that Bonds, a world-class athlete and a prime physical specimen, said he had no knowledge of. Give me a break.
It’s doubtful Bonds will end up in prison – if he does his cards and game memorabilia will probably be worth more – but his name will forever be associated with the cheating of America’s national pastime. That taint sticks to the entire business of collecting, no matter what your passion. Soon dealers won’t be able to give his baseball cards away, while anything even remotely related to Aaron with go through the roof.
This will, hopefully, be the last time that I will feel compelled to write about Barry Bonds. If there’s justice, he’ll be a baseball pariah for the rest of his life, and he’ll be denied even a look at the doors to Cooperstown. If there’s any justice, we’ll all forget about him and his tainted records, the business and passion of collecting will recover, and in 10 years we’ll all be able to simply say: Barry who?