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Chris Carpenter
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Based on steroid allegations against him, do you think Barry Bonds deserves Major League Baseball’s all-time home run record?

Baseball, Apple Pie, & a Tainted Record

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - It has been a very difficult summer for devout baseball fans.  Sure, there have been many things to cheer about and milestones to praise – Craig Biggios’ 3,000th career hit, Alex Rodriguez becoming the youngest player to hit 500 home runs, and Tom Glavine earning his 300th career victory.  But nothing has been more disappointing than seeing San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds crack career home run 756 last Tuesday evening.

So what is the big deal anyway?  Doesn’t a man have the right to break the most hallowed record in sports?  After all, all he did was swing a bat with more precision and power than anyone else in the history of the sport.  Bonds just gave the fans what they wanted to see – the ball going over the fence in bunches.

However, there is but one slight, eency-weency problem in pledging our allegiance to Barry Bonds as the greatest home run hitter ever.  There is overwhelming evidence that he cheated by taking performance enhancing drugs, a major no-no in Major League Baseball.

Barry himself all but admitted to taking steroids in an interview that appeared in the 2005 book “Game of Shadows”.  He said, “There are far worse things like cocaine, heroin and those types of things.  So we all make mistakes.  We all do things.  We need to turn the page.  We need to forget about the past and let us play the game.  We’re entertainers.  Let us entertain.”

Therein, lies the problem.  Baseball is more than entertaining people.  It is America’s greatest pastime.  To say baseball is merely about entertaining people is to lump it in with the farcical embarrassment that is professional wrestling.  To make that parallel concedes our willingness to settle for second best. I don’t know about you but I am not ready to do that.

Some will argue that by taking performance enhancing drugs Barry Bonds was simply taking advantage of modern day advances in medicine.  Even the late Buck O’Neil, the well-respected Negro Leagues star made famous in Ken Burn’s mini-series “Baseball”, was quoted before his death as saying, “The only reason we didn’t use steroids is because we didn’t have them.”

Regardless of what ol’ Buck said, it is still cheating.

Before I get too deep in my condemnation of our new career home run champion let me clearly state that Barry Bonds has never failed the mandatory drug tests that are randomly administered by Major League Baseball.  However, there is overwhelming physical and circumstantial evidence to prove otherwise.

While most player’s careers begin to fade after the age of 35 due to increasing physical limitations brought on by years of wear and tear, Bonds has turned in four of his five best seasons.  Since 2000, he has averaged .328 (he was a career .288 hitter before this), set a Major League record for slugging percentage (.863) and blasted an unprecedented 73 home runs in 2001.

There is no disputing Barry Bonds is one the most remarkable athletes to ever wear a Major League uniform.  With or without steroids, he is a first ballot Hall of Famer.  But there is no disputing that his body structure has ballooned (some would argue for the word muscled) since the 1998 season.  If you doubt my assessment, take a look at archival video footage of him prior to that season and what has transpired since.

What concerns me the most about Barry Bonds surpassing Henry Aaron’s record has nothing to do with a preferential reverence for Hammerin’ Hank  but everything to do with what I will tell my child as a Christian parent.  Obviously, I will not tell my son that it is ok to cheat as long as you don’t get caught.  I will not recommend that he take drugs that can potentially harm but enhance his body.  And I will certainly not condone that it is perfectly fine to succumb to peer pressure.

What I will do is take this moment in history to teach him about what it means to be honest.  Leviticus 19:11 says, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

Popular standards of honesty differ from God’s expectations.  He demands that we think truly, live truly, speak truly, and that we avoid any appearance of dishonesty.*

I will also show him that choosing God’s way is always the right way in all situations.  In I Kings 2:3 it is written, “And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Obeying God is more than a choice of convenience, it is a command based on His Word.  As God’s children, we are to listen to Him, following and obeying all that He teaches us.  When we obey, we hear the Word of God and translate it into action.*

Finally, I will teach him the importance of what it means to have a good reputation.  In Proverbs 22:1, Solomon writes, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

Our name is an expression of our inner character.  One of our goals in life should be to develop high moral standards, to be consistent in attitudes, and growing in love and concern for others.*

Parents and grandparents, especially of children who love sports, Barry Bonds’ home run record creates a golden opportunity to teach some immensely valuable lessons about life and God’s expectations for us.  These are lessons that will last a lifetime.  Seize your chance and don’t let go.  What you teach today will create a better tomorrow for your children and all who they touch.     

* Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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