Records are made to be broken, so out of graciousness we are told to happily congratulate all who break them. Barry Bonds obviously believes in this mantra, and so he has gone public to tell us we should all be proud of Alex Rodriguez when he pulls even with Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.
My response to Mr. Bonds is that he can go ahead and do cartwheels when A-Rod (who is just five homers behind Mays at the moment) hits his 660th round-tripper. But don’t tell me what to think about it.
I’m old enough to have seen (via television) the home run Hank Aaron hit to surpass the mighty Babe Ruth’s “untouchable” 714 home run record. Hammerin’ Hank got hate mail for that achievement, but I celebrated the new record and was proud to have witnessed it — albeit only through the miracle of electronics.
I wasn’t happy to see career singles hitter Pete Rose surpass Ty Cobb’s career hit record because, frankly, I don’t think Rose was ever in Cobb’s league as a ballplayer.
I’m hoping that no one ever breaks Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, but I may change my mind. I only hope that if someone does do the deed, he will be the kind of ballplayer who will be humbled at what he has done — and that he knows enough about baseball history to have even heard of the Yankee Clipper’s name.
Do I want A-Rod to surpass Mays — one of the greatest hitters of all-time — on the home run list? No, frankly. I’m not an A-Rod fan. I don’t think he’s a terrific human being, and that doesn’t even take into account his past steroid use.
And yes, I find it ironic that Bonds — who I’m certain used steroids, himself — would be the first to jump on Rodriguez’ bandwagon. Bonds, of course, is technically the career home run leader now, but if baseball put an asterisk on his record, I’d be OK with that.
Records do mean something. When they are broken, we shouldn’t have to apologize for preferring that they be broken by someone worthy of breaking them.