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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A place for Barry Bonds in Cooperstown?

Por Jack Leyva

Ten years ago, on August 7, 2007, at the Giants home AT&T Park in San Francisco, Barry Lamar Bonds hit a 435 feet (133 m) home run, his 756th, off a pitch from Mike Bacsik of the Washington Nationals, breaking the all-time career home run record, formerly held by the legendary Hank Aaron, who played from 1954 to 1976.

Since that day and until today Bonds is the undefeated leader of the home runs in the MLB, a leadership that he will keep for a long time, maybe even a decade more, because the players chasing his record are close to retirement and the younger ones that could do it are still far ahead from achieving that number and will have to be very constant to eventually reach and surpass that enormous amount of home runs.

When speaking about numbers we can say that that Bonds’ were impressive ones. He finished 19 seasons with more than 20 home runs, 13 consecutive ones with at least 33 round trippers and in 8 seasons he either achieved or surpassed the 40 homers. Besides, in a dozen opportunities he both batted in and scored more than 100 runs and for 14 times he also had more than 100 base on balls (BB), proof of the respect that pitchers had for this amazing slugger.

Bonds set the standards when, being 36 years old, he had 73 home runs thus destroying Mark McGwire’s record (70 in 1998). That year was decisive for the final amount of 762 homers of his career. However, all of his records are under eternal suspicion. Since 2003, he has been t key figure and the most promoted face of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) scandal. The lab supplied an anabolic steroid that was undetectable by doping tests (tetrahydrogestrinone, also known as "the Clear") to professional players also from other sports. Besides Bonds and the other left-handed slugger Jason Giambi, other important athletes were also implicated in this scandal like the sprinter Marion Jones and the NFL player Bill Romanowski. That is the reason why many specialists do not think that his records should be at the top of the list above names who always proved to be clean like Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth, second and third respectively in the sluggers’ list.

“This record is not a trick, not at all, not at all. Period. You can say whatever you want”, said Bonds the night in which he broke Aaron’s record but the truth is that he hasn’t convinced anyone. Proof of that is that he still hasn’t made it to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in spite of having consumed 6 of his 10 years of eligibility. Barry Bonds as well as Roger Clemens and other players that have been under the doping shadow and that have accepted the use of steroids in different times of their careers, claim that they played or competed in a time in which the use of steroids was very common and many athletes did it to increase their performance. Nevertheless, the steroid era has left its dark shadow over those with even a minimum of suspicion on their names, so Bonds will have to assume that it will be hard for him to get to Cooperstown. After all he is the visible face of the media when it comes to the doping scandal.