The whole Steroid Era is the black mark.
And there are plenty of fingers to point in that one.
You can start with the owners. You can point at various other players. But the fact is, if Bonds is a cheater, than he is simply one of hundreds, if not thousands. You can’t condone it, but let’s not be hypocritical about it either. Barry Bonds isn’t the problem all by himself, it’s much bigger than that.
So chalk up the Steroid Era as the black mark on baseball. Throw it right next to the Black Sox scandal, the segregation of the sport, the excessive drug use of the 70s and 80s and the owners mid-80s collusion against free agency.
It is what it is, now baseball needs to find a way to recover.
The problem with that is the Steroid Era was good for baseball. Everybody loves watching crushing home runs. I mean, how exciting was it to watch McGwire and Sosa surpass Roger Maris in 1998? It was enthralling. Even Bonds. I was riveted whenever he came to the plate late in the 2001 season. He was such a machine. It seemed like Bonds could just glare at a fastball and it would rocket out into McCovey Cove. No swing of the bat needed.
As a fan that was unbelievable.
And as a fan, I sat by and watched many a steroid crushed home run. Sure I was suspicious, however I watched and loved it anyway.
You see, fans are just as much a part of the steroid problem in baseball. Because we love the big numbers. The tape measured shots. We tune into television and buy tickets for that stuff. Power reinvigorated the sport.
Now, with Bonds poised to break Aaron’s record, we can get ready to move on to another chapter.
Because, in baseball, after every scandal, there is always something that comes along to wash away that pain. To get rid of our anxieties.
After the Black Sox it was Babe Ruth. After World War 2, it was Jackie Robinson who integrated the major leagues and inspired generations. There is always something.
And there will be.
For now, appreciate Barry Bonds for the great player he is, because he’s about to do something truly special. It’s tainted, but special. And sure, afterward he’s still going to be that same brilliant artist, sour, moody and unlikable.
But, remember, he will be the end of an era.