Open your eyes and watch history being made

September 19, 2004|by MARK KELLER

It's hard to figure out exactly what Barry Bonds needs to do in order to earn the respect of the average sports fan.

It's obvious that the media and his peers see Bonds for what he really is: Arguably the best player in baseball and undoubtedly the most feared hitter.

The fans, however, can't seem to get past what most consider arrogance on the part of Bonds.

Stuck behind that roadblock, those fans are unable to truly enjoy what will go down as one of the greatest stretches of offensive excellence by one baseball player in the history of the sport.


Bonds is on the cusp of breaking one of the most hallowed records in all of sport - Hank Aaron's career home run mark of 755. Bonds hit his 701st homer today and he still has 13 games left to play this season.

Around this time next year, Bonds will have hundreds of cameras and microphones following his every move as he closes in on the record.

That could prove to be a negative for Bonds. He's never been known for being a great interview and is often criticized for his shortness with the media.

For some reason, fans just can't seem to warm up to a guy who won't smile for the camera or who doesn't want to run his mouth.

But give the fans Deion Sanders or Warren Sapp - both of whom will remind you endlessly just how good they are - and they're happy.

So, those of you who won't acknowledge the greatness of Barry Bonds, I ask you to please pull your heads out of the sand for just a minute.

Since the start of the 2000 season, Barry Bonds has:

· Hit 256 home runs;

· Batted .341;

· Drawn 847 walks, 291 of them intentionally (34 percent);

· Had a season on-base percentage over .500 four times;

· Broken the single-season home run record (73);

· Hit his 500th, 600th and 700th home runs;

· Driven in 100 runs three times (he has 96 this year) in a thin lineup.

Five seasons ago, Bonds was not considered a threat to Aaron's career homers record. It was widely thought that Ken Griffey Jr. or Sammy Sosa had the best chances at making a run at the mark.

Instead, Bonds embarked on the most incredible burst of offense in this, or possibly any other, era.

There are still the implications of steroid use and his association with BALCO only strengthens those rumors.

But if other athletes - Kobe Bryant, Marion Jones and Jamal Lewis among others - fall under the "innocent until proven guilty" umbrella, Bonds should get the same privilege.

Besides, it's not what a guy says in interviews that makes him a great athlete. It's what he does on the field.

And nobody can top what Barry Bonds has done lately.

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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