The Goggles, They Do Nothing

Sometime in the next week or so Barry Bonds will hit the home runs that will vault his name into history as he finally ties and eventually breaks Hank Aaron's record as the all-time home run king in the history of Major League Baseball. Of course it's all happening under a storm of controversy as Bonds is the central figure in the steroid usage scandal that claims Barry (and many others) knowingly used illegal steroids to enhance and improve his performance.

For as long as these suspicions have been floating around, this has been an argument. Was he using them, did he lie, if everyone (including the pitchers throwing the ball at him) was doing it does it really matter, is it cheating if for the first few years of his alleged actions major league baseball didn't have any specific rules banning the use of the substances, and blah blah blah blah blah.

Once upon a time baseball fans could get mad about this. And rest assured, poor little Bob Costas has been doing his damndest, waving his arms around and complaining everywhere he can to the point where I'm actually worried that he's gonna burst a blood vessel or something.
But really, at this point the fight is pretty much over.
The way I see it, most people out there believe Barry did something wrong – even if it’s just the social crime of being a jerk. Barry will tell you he didn't take the stuff, but really -- what else is he gonna say? Besides, his outward personality is so prickly and rude that even if he was some innocent victim of circumstance it wouldn't matter because he's burned so many bridges at this point that most people kinda want him to fail and fall from grace.
But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s about to do something that no
one else playing the game right now can even come close to touching.
The odd thing about this whole case is that even though it's a controversy that's been going on literally for years, there's still apparently no concrete evidence out there that directly links Barry to the accusations against them. Now think about that for a second -- Michael Vick went from rumor to federal indictment in the space of a few weeks. But the combined investigative forces of Major League Baseball and the United States Government have been hounding Bonds for as long as anyone can remember, and they still haven't found squat.
And all the while -- Barry Bonds kept hitting home runs.
Now he's only one away from matching Hank Aaron, and only one more away from placing his name in literally the highest place a single baseball player can ever be. And make no mistake -- it's gonna happen. It's not like they can suspend him tomorrow, or walk him for the rest of his life.

Someone's gonna pitch to him -- and whether it's the instincts he's honed since he was a little kid or the long island iced tea-style mixture of chemicals racing through his bloodstream -- it's gonna be on. Cameras will flash, interviews will be held, they'll probably play that same Tina Turner "Simply the Best" song they played when he got the single-season record, he'll kiss his kids, and the fans despite themselves will cheer. Sure baseball nerds are gonna get mad, and poor Bob Costas will probably melt down into a puddle right then and there -- but if you ask me the most interesting part of this whole thing is what's going to happen next.

Because once Barry gets the record, you won't be able to touch him. You can throw him in jail for perjury, you can add all the asterisks and punctuations you want, you can ban him from the hall of fame, you can vilify him until the end of time -- but once he hits that home run it won't matter. His name will be written in that book, his skill as a player will be validated in the most immortalizing way ever, and no amount of character assassination or courtroom condemnations will ever change it.
No matter how he got there, Barry will have scoreboard.
..And baseball let it happen.
Any sort of whining or after the fact action major league baseball decides to take will be nothing short of sour grapes. And perhaps more to the point, all of the whining that’s happening now seems kinda retarded anyways. He’s two away – now it’s a problem? Where the hell were all of you 700 ago? You can't really let someone accomplish something notable and then turn around and claim they don't deserve it or that it didn't happen just because you don't like them.

Do that and you're the pro sports equivalent of the kid who loses at kickball and decides the game doesn't count and takes his ball home.
You let him hang around long enough to hit it, now you gotta eat it.
But if you flip the coin around and you're Barry Bonds -- think for a second about the absolute blank page of possibilities that have suddenly been laid out in front of you. He could do anything at that point (including owning up to whatever he did and totally rubbing everyone's face in it) and with that home run sitting there on the scoreboard there's really nothing anyone could do about it but whine on sports radio and annotate the footnotes of the record books just in case anyone gets the wrong idea fifteen or twenty years from now.
So Barry, if you're reading this (and I'm sure you are) here's a couple of suggestions to consider once you've hit that shot that will be heard around the world:
1. When Commissioner Bud Selig makes the "Herculean" effort to come shake your hand and present you with whatever booby prize they decide to bestow on you to commemorate the event -- hand him a syringe and tell him you won't be needing it anymore.

2. Hold a press conference after you break the record and show up dressed either in Jedi robes or in full Harry Potter dark wizard gear, and tell everyone that you have a confession to make.

3. Immediately retire, buy a Bill Cosby sweater -- and then start showing up on infomercials everywhere selling tubes full of "Barry's Secret" brand health products that cure everything from male pattern baldness to people thinking you're a jerk.

4. Sign on as an endorser to McDonald's, then star in a series of commercials dressed as the Hamburglar.

5. Start your own VH-1 reality show where you choose between 20 young ladies to decide who will be the first woman with the physical skills and willingness to accept chemical assistance to hit 74 home runs in a single season.

6. Negotiate with the guys at Pixar to create a new version of Popeye where you provide the voice of the main character and the trademark spinach eating scenes are replaced by a montage of syringe filling and injecting sequences that lead to you punching out bad guys so you can win Olive Oyl's heart.

7. Call Michael Vick on the phone and just laugh, laugh, laugh.
Here's the thing. A lot of you out there are really cheesed off about Barry getting to the top of this mountain. And it's not like it's hard to disagree -- no one wants to see what they think of as a cheater succeed where it appears other people are legitimately trying to accomplish the same goals.

But you're not going to stop him from having his moment in the sun -- not anymore. The accomplishment of hitting all those home runs stands alone. It's an impressive feat, regardless of how it happened, because whether it's a stain on their credibility or not -- baseball futzed around and let him get there.

And until someone comes along and hits more home runs -- it's gonna stand.

But no one's saying we have to celebrate him as a hero. Just because someone accomplishes something doesn't make them great. It's who they are that we celebrate -- validated in some ways by the things that they accomplish. Think about the way people were pulling for Peyton Manning to win a Super Bowl, or Lance Armstrong to win another Tour de France.
Barry Bonds may be many things, but he's not one of those guys.
There are plenty of instances in history (far beyond sports) where the glory of a singular accomplishment wasn't enough to outweigh someone's personal contemptibility. OJ Simpson for ages was the only one in the history of pro football who ran for more than 2,000 yards in a single season -- and it's not like that's the first thing people think of when his name comes up. In the end all those yards were just something that happened on a field.

Which when you think about it is really all that Barry Bonds is about to accomplish.
His name is going in a book. Nothing more.
Get over it.
[Listening to:    7 Seconds"Busy Little People" ]