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FAY VINCENT

On The Record

With Barry Bonds passing Hank Aaron on the home run list, possibly the most famous mark in sports has become easily the most controversial. Here are some reactions from those around the game.Record is majestic, suspect

August 08, 2007|FAY VINCENT

There are few achievements in sports that can match what Barry Bonds has just done. With one tight and compact swing he has broken Hank Aaron's record for most career home runs and simultaneously set off a massive debate over whether he deserves to be praised or condemned. I say some of both.

Who can deny the majesty of what he has done. Baseball has become a game of home runs. The ballparks are now built smaller to encourage homers. Every report on a game, whether in the newspapers or on television or over the Internet, tells us who has homered that day.

Bonds has now hit more home runs than anyone else, including the great Babe Ruth and including all of those like Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Joe DiMaggio whom we have worshiped for decades. Yet, the whiff of cheating and the strong indications of steroid use by Bonds have tainted his achievement and made many of us less fulsome in our praise. To me, the story must be continued. Justice Brandeis once told us that sunlight is the greatest of disinfectants. I want to know more of the truth. I want Bonds to tell me what he did and when and then I will review again my grading of his lifetime performance.

He cannot be honored as was Cal Ripken Jr., who broke the Lou Gehrig record for longevity. But if we do not honor him quite as we would prefer and as he wishes we would, I respect what he has done and yet I hold back a bit. I want to hear more. And that is a very sad part of what should have been a totally marvelous celebration.

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Fay Vincent was commissioner of baseball from 1989 to 1992.

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