Monday, May 7, 2007

The Most Hated Man In America...

A few days ago, a sportstalk show I listen to (The 2LiveStews) opined that Barry Bonds has supplanted OJ as the most hated man in America. Isaiah Thomas is running a distant third. Mind you, the hosts weren't saying most hated black man, or most hated sports figure, but most hated man, period. I thought this was BS, until I pondered on it a bit more and realized they might be onto something.

Baseball, a sport more steeped in old boy tradition and stats worship than any other, is bracing for Bonds' pending eclipse of Hank Aaron's 744 all-time career home run record. Bonds is only 11 shyas of today, and will not doubt break this at some point this Summer.

This, of course presents the sport with a quandary. Bonds more than likely was juiced when he belted a majority of these HR's, and in a sport so obsessed with numbers (Roger Maris' 61 for example), this amounts to damn near sacrilege for purists of the game. Of course, what these critics seem to overlook is that Bonds likely did it versus pitchers who were likely also on roids (anyone peep the size of Roger Clemens' domepiece lately?), and that it's hardly been proven that roids can improve your ability to hit the ball, which many consider the most difficult task in all sports. And even if he did juice up for some portion of his career (which can't be proven), it doesn't overshadow the fact that he was pretty darned good before the roids.

Long story short, baseball is being very low key about the inevitable record breaking, which is gonna happen unless someone takes a lead pipe to Barry's knee, Nancy Kerrigan style between now and August. Meanwhile, like every other issue in America, blacks support Bonds and whites don't.

It's a sad old song, and a microcosm of the fact that while sports do indeed bring us together, sometimes they also best illuminate those just-below-the-surface reasons why we're apart in the first place.

Poll: Bonds' HR quest gets scant support

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