“This record is not tainted at all, at all.” – Barry Bonds at the press conference following the game when he broke Hank Aaron’s longstanding homerun record. “I ain’t got nothin’ to hide.” – Barry Bonds to NBC News’ Jim Gray.
Finally, after a prolonged investigation that took several years, Barry Bonds, the literally and figuratively, big headed baseball player from San Francisco, has been indicted on perjury and obstruction charges by The Feds. Three months ago, Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s longstanding homerun record, to the chagrin and dismay of sports fans everywhere, and then sat in front of the cameras swearing up and down that his achievement was acquired via natural ability and clean living. If he is convicted on all five felony counts, he’s looking at up to thirty years in prison and he can also kiss the record that was oh so precious to him goodbye. Additionally, if he is convicted, Bonds will be able to watch his hopes for a spot in Cooperstown go soaring away, just like one of the pitches that he hit out of the park on his journey from fame to infamy.
Everyday that he came to the park and everywhere else that he went, Hank Aaron had to endure taunts and scorn because the culture he existed within is, even to this day, inherently racist. When Hank Aaron achieved a record mark, it marked advancement for people who were not equal in their society and his victories, though ultimately personal, were held up by many as a step toward stopping an evil tide. Hank Aaron didn’t play to be considered sublime, his greatness became as a result of his willingness to play despite having the wrath of hateful people directed his way.
Icons become, they are not conceived. To an old timer like Hank Aaron, who wouldn’t even take vitamins during his playing days because he said they were ruining the game, the idea of using; adrenaline, insulin, testosterone, growth hormones, and modafinil (a narcolepsy drug that is a powerful stimulant)*, to enhance his performance and achieve personal glory, is beyond inconceivable. We’re not talking J.C. level martyrdom here and I don’t even like baseball, but really now, what even happened to dignity.
* see page 57, Game of Shadows, By Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. Go Padres, (pages 61-62).