Will Barry Bonds Retire the Greatest
Player in Baseball History?
In the aftermath of the 2001 baseball season, Barry Bonds’ incredible performance was viewed as the Great Distraction from the events of 9/11. He had done for America what Joltin’ Joe did during World War II, the Sultan of Swat after the Black Sox scandal. He had turned himself into as big a Bay Area hero as Mays, DiMaggio, Montana, Walsh, Jackson, Bill Russell, Ken Stabler, Rick Barry. His reputation with the fans and the media had turned full circle, like Williams in Boston and Mantle in New York. He had performed on-field heroics of mythic proportions that put him in a class with Lou Gehrig.
He had completely eclipsed the names of Rodriguez, Griffey, Giambi, and Juan Gonzalez from any of the usual “whose the best player in the game?” discussions. Bonds had warded off the MVP aspirations of Sosa and the relative newcomer Luis Gonzalez. He had made people forget the likes of Michael Jordan. He had forced Tiger Woods and Shaquille O’Neal to wait their turn at the title World’s Greatest Athlete. He had placed himself in the position of frontrunner for all the Player of Year awards.
If Mays had been the Greatest Living Ballplayer, his Godson had come along and symbolically said, “MAYBE I AM.” If Ruth was the greatest player ever, Bonds had entered the campaign that someday may place that moniker alongside his name, not the Babe’s.
No name in sports was larger than Bonds's name now. Not Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Johnny Unitas, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, Pele, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, or Dale Earnhardt.
No record was greater or more sacred. The single-season home run record is the greatest in sports. Next is Aaron’s 755 home runs, and Bonds is after that now just as surely as the U.S. is after Osama bin Laden.
Other records pale in comparison when it comes to luster. Not Eric Dickerson’s rushing record or Chamberlain’s season points-per-game average. Not other big time baseball records, such as Cy Young’s 511 career victories, Pete Rose’s 4,256 career hits, Rogers Hornsby’s .424 single-season batting mark, DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, or Cobb’s .367 lifetime average.
What does Bonds need to do to attain Greatest Player Ever status?
1. Win a World Championship.
2. Break Hank Aaron’s home run record (and, for good measure, Japanese star Sadaharu Oh’s all-time mark) while making a run at 800.
3. Get 500 career steals, which will happen in 2002.
4. Get 3,000 career hits, which according to Scott Boras’ calculations is attainable.
5. Hit .300 lifetime.
6. Approach all-time records for bases on balls and runs batted in.
7. Win a batting championship, and for good measure, a Triple Crown.
All of these goals are absolutely attainable.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism