Monday, March 05, 2007

Bonds And Aaron Don't Have Much In Common, After All

The way I see it, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds have two things in common in their respective pursuits to be the game's all-time homerun king: both men are black, and both have received death threats regarding said chase.

But on second glance, there isn't all that much in common with the death threat thing. So you may as well just say it: both were/are black men chasing the game's penultimate record. And that's it as far as common threads.

Aaron endured such disgraceful behavior by his fellow citizens as to be absolutely repugnant. This was 1973-74, and as Hammerin' Hank closed in on Babe Ruth, when the record looked to be inevitably his, there were those miscreants who harassed him with hate mail, catcalls, and other crap that suddenly drew solid comparisons to Jackie Robinson's foray into the major leagues in 1947.

No black man (few used that term, of course) is going to break that white man's record without at least suffering for it!, was the prevailing "wisdom." Others went further, of course, and offered to end Aaron's pursuit permanently.

Recently, Bonds, who's a couple of dozen homers shy of breaking Aaron's record -- a feat that will be done under a shroud of shame -- revealed that he's received death threats because of his closing in on Aaron.

Ahh, but those threats aren't because of the color of his skin -- presumably no, anyway. Rather, the anger that is turning to hate that is turning to such threats has everything to do with the presupposition that Bonds has attained this level by not playing fair.

No bulked up hulk is going to break that fine man Aaron's record without at least suffering for it!, is the new mantra.

Irony reigns and is dripping.

I wonder, if anyone else happens along to threaten Bonds' record, whether that person will be vilified, presuming he's clean as a whistle. Black or white. Or Latin American. In other words, is it the record that gets people's juices flowing, or the person chasing it? When Aaron busted Ruth's mark, the Babe hadn't played for nearly 40 years. Now, Bonds is on the verge, some 31 years after Aaron finished his career as a Brewer. And who knows how many more years will pass before someone is in position to be the next homerun king?

Will that person suffer thru death threats and hatred?

The beef with Aaron by the miscreants in 1974 was his skin hue. Today, the beef with Bonds is with his magic creams and elixirs.

See? Not all that much in common, after all.


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