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Home run superstar is hurting game’s reputation

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Potty mouth hurts MLB



Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images


Major League Baseball’s No. 2 all-time home-run hitter Barry Bonds gets ready to bat in the 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at AT&T Park last week in San Francisco.





I sat down to watch a baseball game on the weekend in the chance that I’d get to see what should be a great moment in the sport’s history.





This game, between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, of course, featured superstar slugger Barry Bonds hotly pursuing Hank Aaron’s record 755 home runs.





Now, to tie Aaron, Bonds would have had to hit four dingers, a highly unlikely feat, especially, because at press time, the prickly left-fielder was hitting a lowly .111 in July and hadn’t managed a hit in his last 20 plate appearances. Still, I wanted to see how this baseball hero would be received by his hometown crowd.





As men, I think we treat sports stars like gods. For many of us, hockey, football, baseball and basketball players, and Olympic athletes, become names that we revere and pay homage to in posters, trading cards — and if we’re lucky enough to ever get one — autographs signed by the star himself in person. For me, that moment came when I was about 12 years old and got Wayne Gretzky’s signature on a jersey.





So it’s no surprise that the Giants faithful greet Bonds with cheers each time he steps up to the plate.





But Barry Bonds is no sports hero, nor is he a role model. He is perhaps one of the most disdained names in North American pro sports and will forever be linked with baseball’s “steroid era,” with stars such as Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. Some were busted for juicing it (Palmeiro), others for refusing to answer direct questions about their alleged steroid use (McGwire).





While Bonds has never been caught using steroids — he also wasn’t tested for most of his career because baseball hadn’t actually banned the juice, nor did they have a proper testing regimen in place to detect its use — he provided evidence once again on Sunday that he’s unworthy of one of baseball’s highest honours.





When pressed by reporters following the Giants’ 5-3 loss to the Dodgers, Bonds’ unpleasant side was on full display.





“Yeah, it’s an embarrassment to be wearing this fucking uniform because of the way I’m playing,” Bonds said. “There, that’s it. Now go away.”





He continued:





“I’m embarrassed to have this fucking uniform on, the way I’m playing. Now get out of here.”





Perhaps the greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history, and arguably the game’s best all-around player, is its worst ambassador.





Baseball brass should be praying for Bonds to break Aaron’s record so he can finally retire and the game can begin properly buffing its tarnished image with fans. The race to find a real hero worth encouraging young fans to cheer is just beginning.



chris.atchison@metronews.ca

 
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