I'm trying to care about this, but it's not easy. It seems like there's a principle here and that maybe it's related to something bigger and more important, something about lax morals in our modern age or what have you. I don't know much about Hank Aaron as a person, but he's always seemed like a nice guy. I think the difference is in what it meant for Aaron to break and then hold the record versus what it means for Bonds to do so. When Hank Aaron neared Babe Ruth's record, he received death threats, yet he was voted into the Hall of Fame with like 98% of the vote (or however the Baseball Hall of Fame works). The man played in a segregated league on a team called the Clowns, for crying out loud! Barry Bonds' record, on the other hand, does not represent a major step in the battle against racism. It's my understanding that there's some question as to whether or not he'll even be allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he certainly won't receive 98% of the vote. And I have no sense that he represents what's best about baseball, the way Hank Aaron continues to do today. On the other hand, no one is willing to take Bonds to task over the steroid accusations, I assume either over lack of evidence or lack of will to really carry out the witch hunt that would instigate. The question of his Hall of Fame eligibility is certainly less clear than Pete Rose betting on baseball. And maybe Bonds does represent a milestone in the civil rights movement: a record-approacher whose death threats have nothing to do with his race but rather with his supposed drug use.
The thing is: baseball is boring. ..::B O R I N G::.. It takes forever, the stats are arcane, you can't understand what in the hell the announcers are talking about, and the players don't seem to have any of the joie de jouer that earlier players had (or that you see all the time in basketball and even pretty often in football). It might as well be test cricket for all the interest it holds for me. And I think other people can feel that too, the ennui that makes it seem strange to see the excitement and pageantry at Japanese baseball games. I mean, it's our national pastime, right? Then why are our stands half-empty and morose when the Japanese stands are full and almost riotous? Watching Tony Bourdain at a Hanshin Tigers game on "No Reservations" made me think, "hey, maybe baseball games could be fun." But then I remembered what going to an actual game is like (Mariners, Father's Day, 1991 maybe?) and wondered why I couldn't remember taking the Crazy Pills whose effects I was so clearly feeling.
So I don't really care, is what it comes down to. Bonds' victory is ambiguous. Maybe he's the best slugger out of all the dopers, but that would still make him a doper. He's no Hank Aaron, but he's not really a Pete Rose either. One could argue that he rather nicely represents the state of baseball today.