Ted Williams claimed that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing you can do in sports. It is against that backstop that I respect Barry Bonds’ 756th home run. Strength is just one part of the multidimensional puzzle of hitting a baseball. Teddy Ballgame also said, “Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders.” Mr. Bonds intelligence as a hitter is the primary factor in how he’s achieved greatness. To hit a 90 mph fastball, you have around 2/10 of a second to decide to pull the trigger. Most humans simply cannot do that. Add in the “movement” of a fastball, change-up, curveball or splitter, and the competent are reduced to a sliver of the population.
Mr. Bonds is taking the heat for many “cheaters” in baseball because most baseball writers think he’s a jerk. There may also be a bit of jealously in there. After all, would they be baseball writers if they didn’t have a lifelong wish to be able to crush a baseball the way Barry Bonds can? Oh, and there’s also the courage to stand in the batters box while a pitcher fires the ball at you from sixty feet six inches, possibly whistling its furious music past your chin. Most of the writers who disparage Bonds feat probably don’t have the stomach for that.
The “evidence” seems to suggest Barry Bonds cheated by building strength using steroids or HGH or beef jerky. If true, there’s no telling how many of his shots (no pun intended) would have been corralled at the warning track. There’s also no way of telling how many pitchers he faced blew third strikes past him while juiced themselves on ‘roids or the also banned amphetamines. Maybe that’s what the oh-so less than contrite Barry Bonds meant when he said coldly, “This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period.”