Barry Bonds is two home runs away from Hank Aaron’s home run record. He is reviled by many baseball purists convinced by evidence that ranges from the physical – Bonds physique and head have changed quite a bit during his baseball career; traits of potential hormone and steroid use – to the legal – leaked testimony and reports of his steroid use. Wherever he goes he is booed. He is greeted with chants of “Ster-oids, ster-oids, ster-oids.” Even in his own hometown there are many deeply skeptical of him.
But he was voted into the all star game – a fan popularity contest. And the closer he gets to the hallowed home run record, the more people are paying attention. It is almost impossible not to. The home runs he continues to hit nearing the age of 43 are wondrous, gravity-defying shots.
Still, there is this deep tension. Love him? Hate him? Respect him? Admire him?
I can’t help but wonder if part of the anger we direct at him is anger born of our own sinfulness.
Almost everyone knows what it is to cheat, to break the rules.
There are speed limits set aside because they silly.
There are affairs.
There are exemptions on taxes that are a bit generous.
There are expense reports with a few extra dollars.
And that says nothing of the ways people try and get ahead in office politics…to say nothing of political politics.
These are things we all hate about ourselves. They are the lesser angels of our nature – they are our dark side.
I can’t help but wonder if that is why it feels so good to be righteously indignant at someone like Barry Bonds. His cheating seems so blatant, so obvious.
That cheating, if it is real, has already cost him dearly. He will break Aaron’s record. He has already passed Ruth. He will never be Babe. He will never be Hammerin’ Hank. There will be asterisks aplenty – if not in print then in peoples’ minds.
Maybe it is time to give Barry grace for all he might have done – to spend the next few days admiring the beauty of a great accomplishment, to forgive him…and in the process perhaps give ourselves grace for all of our sins as well.