I wouldn’t fancy being MLB commissioner Bud Selig right now. Selig has to make one of the toughest decisions that any commissioner of any sport has ever had to make. He has to decide whether or not to attend games where Barry Bonds could shatter the career home run mark with 756 and break the most hallowed record in all of sport.
This would be a no-brainer if Bonds was a person with same class and spotless reputation as the present record holder, Hank Aaron. But Bonds is nothing of the sort. The book Game of Shadows revealed Bonds as an almost definite steroid user, not to mention a less than ideal husband. His ex-wife taped phone conversations with Bonds where he threatened to kill her if she ever cheated on him.
Selig said that he was undecided on whether to attend Barry’s potentially record-breaking games. He said that the event “will be handled the same way that every other record in baseball that’s been broken was handled.”
This is where Mr. Selig has got it wrong. The career home run record is not just any other record. Can you recall how many yards Emmit Smith ran for in his career to set the all time rushing record? I can’t. How about the record number of points Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored in his career? Me neither. But almost every sports fan knows the magic number 755. It’s a record that gets broken only once in a generation.
Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs in his career. Forty years later, Aaron hit number 715. And now, 31 seasons after Aaron took his last swing in the major leagues, Bonds needs only 22 homers to break it again. Bonds is healthier than he has been in a while, and reaching 756 seems inevitable for him.
Even though Bonds probably took steroids and is not a very nice guy, I think that Selig has to be there when he breaks the record. Steroids or not, the moment when home run ball No. 756 is hit over the fence will be one of the most significant sports moments of the century. Until Bonds flunks a steroid test, Selig has to treat him like any other player reaching this incredible milestone.