Barry Bonds hit his seventh home run of the season yesterday. It was also the 715th of his career, bumping him ahead of the Babe into second place all-time.
Majoring in history at the University of Toronto, one of my favourite classes was American Pop Culture. This class was amazing. I actually got a credit for studying the origin of jazz music, the influence of the Beatles and hippy culture. I had to write two major essays for that class, and as a big sports fan, I chose to write about the two most influential American atheletes of the century. I wrote about Muhammad Ali and George Herman "Babe" Ruth.
In 1920, Babe Ruth hit 54 home runs, smashing his own single season record of 29. How much better was Babe Ruth than every other player in the league at that time? He out-homered all but one team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies who managed to hit 64. How did he follow up that historic 1920 season? In 1921 he had what remains the greatest statistical season in the history of the game. Borrowing from his Wikipedia page, in 152 games, Ruth batted .378, had 204 hits, 44 doubles, 16 triples, 59 home runs (8th all-time), scored 177 runs (2nd all-time), had 171 RBIs (7th all-time), 144 bases on balls, with 119 extra base hits (1st all-time), an .846 slugging average (3rd all-time), and amassed 457 total bases (1st all-time).
Entering the 2000 season, Bonds was already a hall of fame player who ranked amongst the greatest all-time. I've always admired the man's talents and considered he and Roger Clemens as the two greatest players of this generation. If you believe the two reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle who wrote "Game of Shadows", Bonds began using steroids in 1998 after becoming jealous of the attention given to Mark McGwire. This got Bonds to approach Greg Anderson who developed a steroid regimen which in turn helped Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001.
Although he denies ever knowingly taking steroids, Bonds has admitted to taking "the clear" and "the cream". We know "the clear" and "the cream" helped transform Bonds from an amazing hall of famer to the second all-time home run king behind Hank Aaron. That ain't right. Babe Ruth is now #3, but Barry Bonds will be stuck with a hugh * for all of eternity.
Let's hope Aaron stays at #1.
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