Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hammering Hank

I remember when Hank Aaron hit 715. And I didn’t want to see him hit it. It wasn’t because he was black. Aaron was a good guy. It was because I didn’t want the Babe’s record erased. Babe was baseball. He was black and white footage that made us all feel really friggin’ great. And while Aaron was also baseball no one knew who he was. Who else should break this thing? Willie Mays, maybe. Mickey Mantle, certainly . But who knew this Aaron guy?

No one ever talks about this. In this age of 24/7 sports coverage, no one talks about the fact that at the time no one ever cared about this guy. Again, not because he was black – but because he was so colorless. He was pale to the glory of eons of baseball history He was an average celebrity who was doing great things. And he kept on hitting homeruns such that we had to eventually take notice.

And then in 1975 he did it. He belted a ball off of Al Downing and then had stupid kids follow him around the diamond in what should have been a more dignified trot around the bases. And even all of us who didn’t want to see this knew that a new home run king was anointed. Babe was dead – and he was, anyway. Hammering’ Hank was the new king.

I write this as the apparent successor Barry Bonds is one home run away from tying Hank.

I will say this now and many times. Barry Bonds is a cheat, a liar, a drug user, a steroid freak and an abomination to major league baseball. And yet he is allowed to chase one of America’s most hallowed benchmarks – the home run title – and I wonder where is the outrage? Where is the disgust? Why isn’t America rioting against this?

Baseball is America. Why is it allowing a proven cheat to trot around the same bases as Hank and Babe did to get a cheated glory?

Shame. Shame. Shame.