Thursday, July 20, 2006

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat...

Do you remember that scene in Jaws when they keep firing barrel after barrel into the side of the shark, and wait for it to be pulled to the surface? The shark is so strong, it pulls 3 barrels underwater, and swims off to attack again later.

Well, Barry Bonds is the shark. And it looks like he may finally be pulling too many barrels.

Bonds has been waging the proverbial assault on the record books for a long time now, and if you had run the numbers about 3 years ago, you would have liked his chances to finish his career as the all-time homerun leader. You might not have been happy because he was helped by the magic of steroids, but it looked like he would pass Hammerin' Hank Aaron if he wanted to.

But father time, steroids accusations, knee injuries, public vilification, and investigations by Major League Baseball and federal prosecutors seem to be too much for Barry. While it looks like he will dodge indictment for now, his chances of passing Aaron seem awfully slim. Bonds is on a pace for 24 homeruns this year - a far cry from the 45 he hit in 2004, and the 73 he hit in 2001. Days from turning 42, and with knees that fail him frequently, his batting average has fallen to just .250. He's already been more productive at a later age than almost any hitter before him, but that period seems to be over. If Bonds does make it to 24 homeruns this year, he will need 24 more next year - at the age of 43 - to break Aaron's record.

Commissioner Selig says that if Bonds is indicted, he can be suspended. This points up the greatest thing Bonds has going against him - the likelihood that he will miss more games. He played only 14 games last year. While he's on a pace for 142 this year, his knees are bad enough that he could miss quite a few at any time. And then there's the possiblity of a suspension...

Of course, Bonds has always seemed indifferent to passing Aaron. He caused quite a ruckus when he said that his real goal was to pass 'the white man.' He meant of course Babe Ruth, who held the career record until it was broken by Aaron. Bonds passed Ruth earlier this year. It looks like it will be the last great milestone of his career.

Probably the only remaining question is whether he will be elected to the Hall of Fame despite his unpopularity, or whether some smoking gun uncovered by investigators relegates him to Pete Rose status - barred from the Hall.

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