Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sorrentino: Mixed local reaction for Bonds as new home run king

August 15, 2007

As a baseball enthusiast, I'm frustrated.

Barry Bonds broke the greatest record in sports Aug. 7 in San Francisco, passing Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list with 756.

I'm frustrated because I don't know whether to accept Bonds as the greatest home run hitter of all-time. I'd certainly like to. Bonds holds a career .298 batting average and displays power to all parts of the field. He has a .445 on base percentage and 514 career steals, suggesting he's not just a slugger.

If there wasn't any controversy surrounding Bonds, he's a first ballot hall-of-fame player and one of the best who's ever lived.

It's just not that easy.

I want to be able to embrace a record of such mammoth proportion. I'm not sure that will ever happen. And that's frustrating.

If Bonds is found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, his records should be wiped out. No one's found him guilty yet, so the circus will continue for now.

Bonds may not hold the record for nearly as long as the 33 years Aaron held it. Consider Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and his 503 home runs. Rodriguez is currently 32. If he plays until he's 40, Rodriguez would have to average 32 home runs a year to surpass Bonds' record. The Yankees all-star has averaged more than 35 home runs for his career.

I hope if Rodriguez breaks the record, the moment is surrounded by glory, not controversy.

Because there's so much controversy surrounding Bonds, I thought I'd ask a few Tonganoxie residents for their thoughts.

Mike Vestal, Tonganoxie mayor:

"I think the record is going to be questioned a lot. I read an article about a physics professor (Michael Witte of Editor and Publisher), who talked about the apparatus on his right elbow. He said it allowed him to swing through the ball, so when he swung, it locked his elbow and allowed him to have a straight swing on the ball. The apparatus got bigger as the years went by. He said Bonds could also get over the plate further because he's not worried about getting hit with the elbow apparatus on.

I don't think it's good for the game. The old timers didn't use steroids. They played good old ball to have fun. It's all about money now. I think it's kind of taken away from the game a little bit."

Erick Lowe, Tonganoxie High pitcher:

"I don't see a problem with it. He hasn't been caught cheating yet, so you can't really blame him for something he hasn't done. I think he's deserving.

I think he's the best of all-time. He can take a lot of pitches other hitters can't take out of the park. I'd hate to pitch against him. A lot of people talk about how he works out more than most people, at 8 a.m. every day. I think that's the key for having longevity in the game. He's had the same swing for about 20 years."

Phil Loomis, THS baseball coach:

"Until some of the controversy settles down, it's something to me that doesn't have as big an impact on the game as it should have. That's why a lot of people are indifferent on it.

It was the same way with (Bonds') single-season home run record (of 73 in 2001). In my mind, I still think (Roger Maris') 61 is the real target.

At this point in time, I would not put him as one of the greats because of the image problem there is. I think the same way with (former first baseman Mark) McGwire."

Pat Bailey, Tonganoxie Post 41 baseball coach:

"There might be an asterisk by his name. But you have to think if he took steroids, he's not the only player on them. Pitchers take steroids, too. He may be juiced up, but the people pitching to him probably were on steroids, too.

I was maybe 9 or 10 when Aaron broke the record. It was a different world back then. People didn't want a black man to break a white man's record. I wasn't raised that way, so I was happy for him.

To be honest with you, I used to be a MLB fan, but I lost all interest in it when they went on strike (in 1994). The way I saw it, for what those guys made in a year, I would happily play baseball all my life."

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