Selig won’t take Barry Bonds’ name out of the record books – not that it matters

Former San Francisco Giants baseball player Barry Bonds leaves the Federal Court House after his perjury trial at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California April 8, 2011. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES – Tags: CRIME LAW SPORT BASEBALL HEADSHOT)

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told the media on Thursday that he won’t consider taking Barry Bonds’ name out of the record books in wake of the slugger’s conviction of obstruction of justice last week. This will make a lot of fans angry, but it shouldn’t.

There was a huge outcry from fans that wanted to see an asterisk next to Bonds’ name in the record books when he broke Hammerin’ Hank’s home run mark in 2006. But that was never going to happen, and neither was Selig striking Bonds’ name from the record books altogether.

But the fact that Bonds hit 762 home runs in his career only has meaning because we as fans give it meaning. If we refer to Bonds as the current home run champ, then that 762 becomes much more than a number. But if we refer to Bonds as the cheater that pumped himself full of drugs in efforts to break Aaron’s record, then that 762 holds about as much weight as the needle that Greg Anderson used to inject the former slugger.

Don’t get it twisted: What Bonds did, matters. How he accomplished what he did, matters. The fact that he cheated, matters. But that 762 number? Means nothing. It’s a question at someone’s trivia night. In fact, I didn’t even know the exact number before I started writing this piece. I had to look it up, which should tell you how much it means to me.

Do true baseball fans wish that Aaron’s number were still at the top of the record books? Yes, but in some ways, it still is. Nobody refers to Bonds as baseball’s all-time home run leader unless they follow it up with a “But…steroids.” And there’s a large contingent that refuse to even mention Bonds’ name when the record is mentioned. They’ll still refer to Hank Aaron as the all-time home run champ and will continue to do so until they take their last breath.

It would be nice if Selig stepped to the plate and made a statement for once. It would be nice if he gave Bonds his middle finger and said: “Not in my record books, buddy.” But he wasn’t and isn’t going to do that. Baseball is run by conservative men who make conservative decisions. Selig wasn’t going to rock the boat with something like this, just like he will never allow someone as flamboyant and aggressive as Mark Cuban to come in and purchase one of his ball clubs.

But as long as we the fans don’t allow Bonds’ 762 to have meaning, then Hank Aaron will always live on as the true all-time home run champion.

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