Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Babe's Still the Sultan

Have you noticed that there aren't great glorious celebrations of Barry Bonds breaking the all-time Home Run record? Not the remarkable coverage of Hank Aaron's own eclipse of it in April 1974 that I watched on TV as a wee lad, definitely. The differences between Bonds and Hammerin' Hank are cut and dry: Bonds extended his career by usage of human growth hormones that transformed his once athletic, svelte build into looking like he was King Kong. Hank Aaron was 190 lbs at his highest career weight, wet and in uniform - a skinny guy by today's standards. Hank Aaron hit the majority of his homers in the 1960s when the Pitcher ruled the Game and he never hit 50 homers in a season;Bonds had the luxury of playing in the expansion era where pitching talent is spread thin and umpires have a strike zone that Annie Oakley couldn't be on target. Barry Bonds is a cry-baby, a liar, cheat, racist and a spoiled brat spawned from a famous Baseball daddy who had his career mapped out for him from Day One. Hank Aaron got to where he did by his own talents and he began playing the Game in the Jim Crow era - lots of hurdles to jump. Aaron was always quiet and a class act and he had to endure real racism, but never threw the race card down himself, to my knowledge. Hammerin' Hank will always eclipse Barry Bonds no matter if Bonds extends his home run total to a thousand.

Though not the Baseball Freak that I once was and am not one of those who sat for hours with Bill James's sabermetrics nerd pursuits, Babe Ruth still remains in my book the Greatest All-Around Baseball Player that ever donned a major league uniform. Ruth not only hit the Big Ball many times over, he has a high career BA with it and in his younger and thinner days he was known for defensive skills and was a remarkably fast runner on the pads. Lest we forget that Babe began his career as a Pitcher, and he was a damned good pitcher. He swatted home-runs in the Teens during the tail-end of the DeadBall Era and when pitchers could use spitballs and cuff the ball to gain advantage over the hitter. Plus, he was lovable and was a fan favorite and excellent ambassador for the Game - unlike these arrogant Baseball stars today.

The Babe is in a League of his own and no ballplayer of any racial classification can ever match him no matter how many numbers crunchers beg to differ.

Long Live the Babe!

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