Finally, America's long national nightmare is over. Barry Bonds now sits at 756. All Time Home Run King.
Make of that what you will. Any and all commentary about this night will have to deal with the fact that the record might be tainted, but, frankly, what of it? I take no special personal pleasure in seeing Bonds, an über curmudgeon, vault ahead of one of the great gentlemen in the game's history in Hank Aaron, but anyone who has really followed America's Pastime (this ought to be used in reference to the NFL now, by the way) since the great McGuire/Sosa chase for Roger Maris record of 61 homers in a single season should know by now that virtually every record in the sport has possibly been tainted be steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. The pitiful testimony given to Congress and the Mitchell Commission by such baseball luminaries as the aforementioned McGuire, Rafael Palmerio, coupled with the intentionally opaque "apology" from Jason Giambi makes one wonder about the value of, well...anything.
So having said all that, it's especially curious to see the graphic that CNNSI is running now on their front page in the wake of the new record being set. It begins with a picture of Babe Ruth with the number 714, then fades into into a picture of Hank Aaron and the number 755, before fading to a shot of the back of Bonds' jersey and the number 756...but the number fades into Bonds and an asterisk is left in his name where the "O" should be.
Now, tell me...did CNNSI put a big fat * anywhere next to McGuire's name when he hit 62?
No. I didn't think so.
Update: I want to elaborate more on my comments above. The way I ended, it probably sounds like I was advancing race as the difference in the treatment of Bonds vs. McGuire. To some extent, I think race does play a part...but certainly not more than Bonds being a general asshole. McGuire and Sosa played to the fans and Barry just sulks, so I totally get why he gets no love from most who follow the game. I do wonder, though...if Bonds were as fan friendly as those other guys, how would the allegations of steroid use played out?
And, over at Balloon Juice, John Cole digs deeper in the pathos of the haters.