I have a short-term subscription to Sports Illustrated which I bought from a girl at church who was selling magazine subscriptions as a fundraiser. Some issues of SI are better than others, but one of the high points is always Rick Reilly’s back page column.
The July 23 issue of SI focused on Hank Aaron and the home run record chase, and Reilly’s column, Giving Barry His Due, was particularly enjoyable, as he suggested different ways to properly celebrate Barry Bonds’s impending record-breaking home run.* Here are some of my favorites:
Reilly closed his column by putting Hank Aaron’s achievement into perspective:
- Light one of his baseball cards and hold it up like a Bic at a concert.
- Call the Hall of Fame and ask which cap will appear on Bonds’s head in his Cooperstown exhibit—the size 7, the 71/2, or the 8?
- If you’re watching TV, flip to something a little more plausible, like MacGyver.
- Pull out a copy of Game of Shadows and begin reading aloud how Bonds used steroids, human growth hormone, insulin, testosterone decanoate, bovine steroids and female fertility drugs to help him set this record. And then watch Bonds step on home and point to God.
- Squirt juice out of a giant syringe.
- Remind yourself that they put a gold medal around Ben Johnson’s neck for a while, too.
Remember this: The man who held the record before Bonds—one of the most principled and honorable men you will ever meet—is reluctant to even speak to Bonds on the phone, much less be there to witness the record breaker. Just because a thief paints over a masterpiece doesn’t mean the masterpiece isn’t still underneath.Bonds will end up with more home runs than Aaron, but I’m convinced that in the long term, Aaron, and not Bonds, will be remembered as the Home Run King, while Bonds will be remembered as a colossal talent who ruined his legacy by cheating.
*Through the seventh inning of tonight’s game against Atlanta, Bonds remained homerless. It’s starting to look increasingly hopeful that he won’t break the record against my beloved Braves!