Our Baseball God

RAMTIN JAMSHIDI
El Vaquero Sports Editor

Sports legends are those figures who transcend time and hang out somewhere between heaven and earth, blessing us by competing with the mere mortals. They seem to function a few seconds ahead of the rest of us.

Our generation needs to recognize its living legend, embrace him for smashing records at fighter jet speed, and at the age in which he has done most of his damage. He is not only the best baseball player of our era, he has proven to be the best of all time. At 39 years young, this athlete has broken a nearly unreachable record and is on pace to hit more home runs than anyone, ever. Barry Bonds has brushed aside steroid allegations, which he is innocent of until proven guilty, criticism from the press and fans, and the death of his father to become the most powerful force in the game, ever. To get some perspective, Bonds hit a record 73 home runs in 2001, with a record 863 slugging percentage in the same year.

For his career, Bonds is the only player to earn at least 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases. The closest any other player has come to that mark is Willie Mays who tallied 660 home runs and 338 stolen bases. He recently passed his godfather Willie Mays with a career 668 home runs, and is chasing Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth, which in time he will pass. The living-legend has won six National League Most Valuable Player Awards (1990, ’92, ’93, ’01, ’02 and ’03), with no other player winning more than three.

Our living legend, Barry Bonds, has proven that team-sports can still be dominated by a single force, all this without having a personable attitude. Bonds’ numbers speak for themselves and his ability to dominate against a deeper talent base is astonishing.

As witnesses to Bonds’ dominance, we should dedicate statues and memorials to him, sell out every ballpark he graces, and just enjoy America’s pastime with the best of all time.

Dodger’s manager Jim Tracy offers this of Bonds, “he’s beginning to make a case for himself as arguably being maybe the greatest player to ever play the game.”

Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker said, “he’s the most remarkable offensive player in my lifetime. With the power he possesses and his compact swing, it’s almost impossible to control bat speed.” No one argues Bonds’ greatness, but they do contend that there have been others before him that is better.

The players that are considered by the fans and some writers, better than Bonds’ are: Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. The players span the century so to truly compare them would be unfair.

Ruth for example, played in the first quarter of the 20th century and faced nobodies on the plate. Bonds also does not have the same perks Ruth enjoyed. Ruth played in an era with no minorities, so the depth of talent wasnot deep, pitchers did not throw sliders or split-finger fastballs. There were also no relievers in the late innings to help take out their worn out starters.

Bonds also gets pitched to the least, evident by all the walks he has accumulated. Bonds broke Ruth’s single-season record of 177 walks in 2001, and then out did himself the next year by getting 198. Bonds is second all-time to Ricky Henderson on career walks with 640. All those walks mean less chances to hit a home run. Pitchers treat the man like a ticking time bomb.

He’s a legend for his power and incredible hand-eye coordination. Barry Bonds is to home runs as traffic is to L.A. There is no argument for the other players, because Bond’s career numbers speak for itself, and some seem to forget that he still has four to five years of domination left if not more.

Since the start of the 2001 season, Bonds is batting .350 with a home run every 7.5 at bats; 6.5 in that famed 73 home-run season.

All this in the new decade…but his legacy reaches as far back as the ’90s: He won eight Gold Gloves for his defense. He had a .434 on-base percentage for a whole decade, which was the highest in the league. In addition, he led his league in the decade in home runs, runs, RBI’s, walks and extra-base hits.

So for all sports fans, run to the ballparks and hope you can get a glimpse of the man, no the living-legend, Barry Bonds.