Barry Balco and 756
Everybody who knows that I did sportswriting and sports commentary in the past usually asks me for a myriad of opinions about football at the college and professional level. That's fine, because I truly love football and I have a passion for it-but my heart has always been at a ballpark somewhere in the center field bleachers. I have a passion for football, but the only things in the world I love more than the game of baseball are my God and my wife.
For those of us who love the game-those who believe that baseball is as much a part of our collective national soul as the Declaration of Independence or the Winter at Valley Forge, that it is part of what it means and what it is to be American-we are putridly sick, and we have been since about ten minutes to nine on Tuesday night. That night will go down in history as the night that the most hallowed record in America's national game was broken largely due to the influence of illegal drugs.
Like ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski, I can't pretend that I have it in me to congratulate Barry Balco on creaming 756 home runs and breaking Henry Aaron's home run record. Because Hammerin' Hank is a man of class, he videotaped a congratulatory message to Barry the Cream-but the fact that he didn't attend spoke volumes.
Tuesday night the holy grail of American sporting records was eclipsed by a cheating criminal. His engagement in illegal activity is in large part what got him to the record, just like Mark McGwire (we now know) seems to have "broken" the single-season home run record, also shattered the same year by Sammy Sosa who finished just behind McGwire, who is also under a cloud of steroid suspicion. In case anyone forgot, Barry Balco is now the single-season record-holder, yet another steroid-induced feat. Legitimate record-holder Roger Maris spins in his grave.
And that is what Baseball has now become-a game so cheapened by the cheating of performance-enhancing drugs that you just don't know what is real anymore.