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B*nds Away

Barry B*nds (please note asterisk) finally broke Hank Aaron's home run record last night when he launched a ball over the centerfield wall in San Francisco. And in typical classless Barry B*nds fashion, just as he did when he tied the record Saturday in San Diego, B*nds stood and watched the ball go out. In the process he showed up not only the pitcher who threw him the historic pitch, but the glorious history of Major League Baseball. Not that it's surprising. It was never about the record. It was always about Barry.

But my fellow baseball fans, our long national nightmare is over.

You see, now that B*nds has finished his pursuit of epic megalomania, we can finally give him the lack of attention he so richly desires and deserves. Back in 2001 every B*nds at-bat was on TV as he edged closer to Mark McGwire's single-season record of 70 home runs. It was the same story last year as he approached Babe Ruth's 714 career mark and again so far this season as he closed in on Aaron. Reporters followed his every move en masse, even if it often meant being ignored, berated and insulted by the surly star who needs three lockers in the Giants clubhouse. I guess it's one for him, one for his ego and one for his inflated physique.
But now that he's reached the magical milestone we can finally push him from our collective consciouness. Aside from his page in the record books and his role in the ongoing steroid investigation, B*nds is largely irrelevant. The last-place Giants, who have played in front of sold-out crowds at home and on the road for most of the season, will likely start seeing more empty seats along McCovey's Cove. The media horde (hopefully) will dwindle. And B*nds will be relegated to his role as an aging superstar hobbling along far longer than he should for the sake of padding his gawdy statistcs. You think he would've learned something from his idol and godfather Willie Mays about that.
It will be interesting to see how history will remember Barry B*nds. He will surely be the posterboy for what will likely be known as baseball's steroid age. He will, of course, be known as the man who passed Aaron, though with far less grace than Aaron, who faced death threats, showed when he passed Ruth 33 years ago. Hammerin' Hank's grace continued last night, when a 45-second congratulatory message from Aaron was played on the AT&T Park scoreboard after B*nds latest clout, even though the former Braves star has publicly decried B*nds chemically-charged pursuit of immortality.
In the annals of tragic figures, Barry B*nds ranks right up there with Oedipus, Bill Clinton and Pete Rose. B*nds was already a future Hall of Famer by the time he won his record-tying third National League Most Valuable Player Award after the 1993 season. But it wasn't enough. After watching McGwire win hearts and break Roger Maris' single-season record in 1998, B*nds had to have more. Since the start of the 2001 season, he's added 262 home runs and four more MVPs, not to mention a great deal of controversy and shame to what should have been a glorious legacy.
I'm almost certain B*nds will wind up moving to the American League next season, where he'll be a designated hitter. He'll hang on a couple more years so he can hit his 800th home run, just because no one this side of Satahara Oh has. Eventually he will retire. Five years later he should be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. After all, despite what we're all certain he did, there's still no proof he broke any of baseball's specious rules. But we baseball fans don't have to like it. And we won't. And that's only fair. After all, Barry B*nds never liked us.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo


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