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Ball where it belongs, even with asterisk*Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2008, at 11:38 PM
On Tuesday, Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball finally found its way to the Baseball Hall of Fame. While I make no secret that I believe Bonds is a cheat and his records are very likely tainted, this was the right place for the ball.
Whatever any of us want to think of the Steroid Era, the bottom line is that it happened. There's no way to really differentiate between what really were and really were not tainted home runs.
I feel 99 percent positive that all of Jose Canseco's and Mark McGuire's home runs should be ignored.
I also feel 100 percent sure that Ken Griffey Jr.'s long balls were all completely legit.
But all the other sluggers of the era lie in a huge grey area.
Frank Thomas? Probably not. He was a big dude all along.
Rafael Palmeiro? Yes, but when did he start?
Sammy Sosa? That's a tough nut to crack.
Bonds? I'm pretty sure.
But Commissioner Bud Selig and all the owners chose to ignore the problem because the long ball = $$$$$$$$.
We the fans should have known better, too.
With that in mind, the Bonds home run ball is a part of baseball history, for better or worse.
That brings us to the asterisk. Obviously Marc Ecko had the right to do what he wanted with the ball when he bought it for $752,467 last September. But it is shameful that the ball will go in the Hall with the big mark on it.
The fact is that Bonds has not yet been proven to have taken steroids. Even when (or if) he is, the record will still stand. It's just another shameful chapter in baseball's checkered past.
Anyone ever heard of the Black Sox Scandal?
Do you know anything about Ty Cobb? The guy was a racist and all-around jerk. (Remember the Ray Liota's quote as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams? "Ty Cobb wanted to play. But none of us could stand the SOB when we were alive, so we told him to stick it." I think that was pretty accurate)
It should also be noted that the all-time leader in hits (Pete Rose), the all-time leader in home runs (Bonds) and probably the best post-WWII era pitcher (Roger Clemens) now all have some sort of scandal attached to their names.
Let's be honest, baseball has a dirty past. The sooner we can get over trying to make these guys saints, the better it will be for us all.
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.