The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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The Invisible Asterisk

The 2007 Major League Baseball season has finally begun, and so has the countdown to Barry Bonds breaking the all-time home run record. As of Sunday, Bonds has 735 career home runs, needing only 21 more to break Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755.

If Bonds stays healthy, there is little doubt he will break the record and become the all-time leader in home runs. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has not expressed any interest in Bonds’ pursuit of the record, and has not said how MLB will handle Bonds and his off-field issues in the record books.

Baseball will most likely not put an asterisk next to Bonds’ achievements on paper, but fans will add it in their minds.

Bonds was at the center of a BALCO scandal and reportedly testified to a federal grand jury in 2003 that he “unknowingly” took steroids. He is currently being investigated for perjury for his testimony.

A book detailing Bonds use of performance-enhancing drugs was written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters and released in 2006. In January, the “New York Daily News” reported that Bonds failed an amphetamines test in 2006.

In spite of all the court appearances and criticism from fans and the media, Bonds is still standing and chasing history. Baseball is treating the Bonds issue the way it should. He is innocent until proven guilty.

There is no doubt that if Bonds is convicted of perjury, Selig will trounce on the opportunity to distance Bonds from baseball. But without any convictions, there is nothing he can do.

We are currently living in what is known as the “steroids era” of baseball. Players such as Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti have admitted to have taken performance-enhancing drugs.

Players such as Bonds, Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi have been in the center of steroids scandal. Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids in 2005 after dramatically pointing his finger at Congress and telling them that he never took steroids, period.

The list of players involved with performance-enhancing drugs keeps growing each year, such as newly acquired Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. was allegedly involved with human growth hormone.

Athletes in every sport, especially baseball, are different now. Players are in much better shape thanks to dieting, working out and, in some cases, vitamins and supplements. It is difficult to know who’s on what.

Bonds allegedly said to a federal grand jury that his trainer Greg Anderson gave him a rubbing balm and liquid, thinking it was cream and flaxseed oil for his arthritis.

Authorities and prosecutors believe that Bonds was given “the clear” and “the cream,” both designer steroids.

All these allegations are issues Bonds will have to deal with for the rest of his life, conviction or no conviction.

Bonds, before any speculation of steroid-use began, was already a great player. He was a 30-plus homer and 100 RBI kind of player throughout most of his career.

Technically, Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time. He is the best player of this era.

He holds the single-season home run record with 73 home runs. He is the most walked player in the history of the game (2,428 career walks). He holds the record for the most MVP awards (7). He is not only effective with a bat, for he has won eight gold gloves playing outfield in his career.

Bonds is an amazing player, but does he deserve his place in history? He definitely does for his era.

But there is a large difference between baseball then and baseball now. I’m sure Bonds works out often, lifts weights and works hard to stay in shape.

Babe Ruth did not do anything like that. He was not gifted with having an athletic and muscled body, but was gifted with talent, and was the greatest player to ever live. If he were athletically fit, like baseball players are today, he would have definitely hit more home runs and probably stolen more bases.

We are living in different times now, in a time where there are steroids, supplements and human growth hormone. We cannot compare history to now because it just is not fair.

Fans have to realize that baseball is not what it used to be. The heroes and legendary players are long gone now. The sport and its athletes are evolving. Eventually, fans will have to evolve too.

It is not Bonds’ fault that baseball is the way it is. MLB let this happen. And don’t think I’m letting him off the hook.

If he is convicted of perjury, then the commissioner has to act and remove him from the record books for thinking he was bigger than the game. But if Bonds is not convicted, then his numbers should not be taken away from history.

If we look into his statistics, then we would have to look at every player’s stats from this era, including pitchers. He will be the all-time leader in home runs, whether you like it or not.

His name will forever be in baseball history. He will always be remembered as a great player, though people will always add that “but.” People in the future will say, “Barry Bonds was a great player ? but was accused of taking steroids.”

Bonds’ name will forever be synonymous with performance-enhancing drugs. He may not receive any convictions from the federal grand jury or from MLB, but he is already guilty in many fans’ minds. There will always be an invisible asterisk next to Barry Bonds’ name.

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