In a variety of ways, members of The Starting Five collective have suggested that the coverage of Barry Bonds is, at least to some extent, driven by something other than the man’s character (and, it’s noteworthy how much more highly his peers appear to think of Bonds than does the public at large). And, the coverage of Bonds, it seems to me, was almost uniformly personal and negative as he approached Babe Ruth’s mark in 2006. Perhaps that coverage was driven by the fact that the highly publicized Game of Shadows had just come out, which focused attention on Bonds’ misdeeds, his temper and ill-treatment of others and general unpleasantness as a human being.
But, as Bonds approaches the all-time home run record itself in 2007, there appears to be a somewhat different tenor to the discussion surrounding Bonds, steroid use and the sanctity of one of sports’ most hallowed records. Bonds has not become Mr. Popularity. But, a wide range of commentary over the past ten days or so has de-emphasized Bonds’ alleged cheating, and focused on the bigger picture: that, even if Bonds did cheat, he’s far from alone in having done so. And, given that fact, condemning him personally and unequivocally for the sins of, perhaps, an entire generation fo baseball players and executives, is more than a bit churlish and myopic. It may be that one reason why, according to the article linked to above, only 34% of baseball fans will recognize Bonds as the greatest homerun hitter ever after he hits No. 756, nearly three quarters of baseball players would hold him in such regard.