Congratulations to Barry Bonds!
Barry Bonds drilled his 756th career home run off little known Nationals starter Mike Bascik in the 5th. The game is still going on but in true Giants fashion the bullpen has blown the lead, the Giants are currently down 8-6 to the Washington Nationals in the 8th.
I will update this post more in the morning when I can gather my thoughts but until then, wow. I expect the national media coverage tonight and tomorrow to be brash, stupid, and sensationalist. The celebration, the video message from Hank Aaron, everything was unforgettable.
Update: Gathering My Thoughts
After catching sporadic segments on ESPN and listening to a little KNBR radio this morning, it seems that the reaction to Bonds is pretty diverse. This isn’t shocking or anything, Bonds seems to divide people like no other. Giants fans as a collective are tickled, sites like McCovey Chronicles and Obsessive Giants Compulsive are pretty much positive about the accomplishment. Cutting through all the allegations and mixed feelings about Bonds, I think that Giants fans have considered themselves lucky to watch Barry for the past 14 years. He was part of the reason that baseball stayed in San Francisco and I’ve never seen a better hitter in my lifetime. He’s a fantastic hitter, he wears my jersey, that’s all I need for now.
Ignoring the steroids talk and focusing on the achievement is what fans should do. It’s good for baseball that the game has had so much excitement. How we separately view Bonds doesn’t really matter because history will have the ultimate final word. Baseball is a game thats made up of special moments like 756, a patchwork quilt of memories extend throughout the game connecting everyone who’s ever been a fan. 756 is just another patch sewn into that quilt. The quilt isn’t a perfect one either, it’s full of patches and fabric that occasionally go against the idolized image of “the sanctity of the game”.
Gaylord Perry, Joe Niekro, Ty Cobb, and countless others have all added their own unique, and sometimes controversial, patch to the quilt. This is the very essence of baseball. A giant collective of great players coming together to do their best to add their mark to the game. Some of them are amazingly positive, Jackie Robinson, but others have changed the game in their own way. Ty Cobb sliding in cleats up and spikes out. Perry and Niekro doctoring balls with precision. The list goes on. I can tell my kids and grandkids about how great Bonds was, about how compact and quick and perfect his swing was. Just like my father told me about Willie Mays and how many other fathers passed on baseball knowledge to their children.
You couldn’t but help to feel great after Bonds hit the home run to the deepest part of the yard, came around and talked to the crowd. Barry has looked more like a human this year than ever and it was a intimate moment that fans usually don’t get to have with their players. The message from Hank was also special as was the shoutout Bonds gave to his father. Hank Aaron showed us all why everyone constantly praises him for his character.
Mike Bacsik handled the situation with the utmost class I think I’ve ever seen from a ballplayer. He was engaging and positive about the entire experience. For weeks coming up to 756, you’ve heard nothing but pitchers grumpily saying how “they didn’t want to be that guy” well Bacsik turned out to be that guy and was incredible in his role. In a odd twist, his father was also a major league pitcher that pitched to Hank when he was stuck on 755. I’ve heard from several people that Bascik was actually signing autographs after the game for the fans. As a 29 year old journey man looking for his way in the big leagues, I wish him nothing but the best.
The historic home run by Bonds puts a heavy period on the Giants. They are getting ready to enter tough times for the franchise and the departure of Bonds will be the final push in that direction. New faces of the franchise are already developing. It’s going to be a steep hill to climb but the game of baseball goes on.