For the last two years the sports world has watched with amazement as Barry Bonds has put an assault on the record books of Ruthian proportions.
Every sports writer in America agrees Bonds’ numbers at this age are extraordinary.
To be 39 years old and lead the majors in home runs at 40, have a batting average of .345 and have driven in 82 runs through September 5, is something that most baseball analyst cannot understand.
In other major sports there are middle aged men doing incredible feats. There is Jerry Rice, who at the age of 40, caught a touchdown in the Super Bowl and the basketball deity Michael Jordan who at the age of 40 dropped 40 points on the talented New Jersey Nets in 2003.
Both the men just mentioned were the biggest stars on the field in there prime, and Jordan is still synonymous with basketball even though he no longer plays.
Bonds is with out a doubt the most electrifying player in the game of baseball, as explosive as Jordan and Rice were in the 80’s and 90’s.
Bobby Cox, the manager of the Atlanta Braves, said, “with the bases loaded I would never pitch to Bonds, even with the championship caliber Tpitching staff that I have.” Three weekends ago the Braves went to Pac Bell Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, for a three game set.
This particular series had flavor for two reasons, first and for most, these two teams have the two best records in the National League. Secondly, the baseball public wanted to see how Bonds could do against the most impressive bullpen in the majors.
It all came down to the top of the 10th inning with the score tied 4-4 and Bonds stepping up to the plate. Looking back at him from the mound is arguably the best closer in the game of baseball John Smoltz.
Bonds turned on the first pitch he saw and hit it into McCovey Cove, the nickname for San Francisco Bay which is behind the right field wall, named after Hall of Famer William McCovey.
The mammoth shot was his league leading 37th homerun, winning the game for the Giants and simultaneously putting to rest the notion that Smoltz is unhittable in the late innings.
This is another miniscule example of the devastation that has been Bonds’ bat this season. The talk around the media has been that Albert Pujols, the left fielder of the St. Louis Cardinals, is better then Bonds, is a little premature.
To be considered better than Bonds, Pujols must first hit 650 home runs, steal 500 bases, have a better on base percentage than the legendary Babe Ruth, and have a better slugging percentage than maybe the greatest hitter of all time Joe DiMaggio.
All of these feats remain to be seen, but keep in mind that the only person to record 400 home runs and 400 stolen bases in a career is Bonds, let alone record 650 homeruns and 500 stolen bases.
The fact that Bonds can combine the amount of home runs a slugger would have with the amount of stolen bases a lead-off center fielder would have is a once in a generation occurrence.