Bonds may be great, but not greatest

Barry Bonds? overtaking of the Major League Base?ball home run record got most of the headline ink in national sports news this week, and rightfully so. It is a huge accomplishment to play as many years at as high a level as Bonds has. That said, Bonds has no chance at changing my mind about who the greatest player in baseball history was.

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Even if I could somehow, for more than one moment, set aside the steroid allegations (which would be like asking a sculpture of Atlas to ignore the crushing weight of the earth on his shoulders), I can?t picture myself daydreaming about what it would be like to be Barry Bonds.

But because money and fame and records are the units in which our society measures athletic greatness, Bonds is?innocent until proven guilty?one of the greatest athletes ever to live.

Unless he cheated, in which case, he?s one of the greatest cheaters of all time.

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I?m in no position to decide whether Bonds lied about steroid use, but it seems to me there?s a good chance he cheated in order to break Hammerin? Hank Aaron?s record. The hall of fame has already admitted a number of famous cheaters. If it turns out Bonds cheated, I hope they put No. 756 in a display with a spitter thrown by Gaylord Perry, a belt loop grabbed by John McGraw and the shattered remains of Albert Belle?s corked bat.

But if it turns out he didn?t cheat, where does the ball go?

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Call me crazy, but I?d rather not have Barry Bonds? millions of dollars, nor his time in the limelight, nor my name listed ahead of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willy Mays on a plaque in Cooperstown.

I?m happy with being ?just? a fan. I especially like the part about how watching from the sidelines or sitting in the comfort of my apartment does not require a strict diet or any kind of training regimen.

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My brother, Ben, has been working in California for most of the summer, but he?s back in Hillsboro now, preparing for another season with Tabor football. He brought me a bag of honey roasted peanuts all the way from some place called ?Trader Joe?s.? I?m not sure if I?m more excited about the peanuts or the fact that football is almost here again. Either way, I?m thrilled that Ben is back in town.

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High school practices have already started, and Tabor starts Aug. 22. Also, ?The Kansas Pregame??a guide to more than 200 Kansas high school and college teams?has arrived. It?s free, and if you?d like one, stop by the Free Press office. When they?re gone, they?re gone.

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I really am happy being ?just? a fan, because I?d much rather have a bookcase than a Bowflex in my living room, and I really, really like honey roasted peanuts.

And being a bookworm with a sweet tooth isn?t exactly the 1-2 combination that puts a guy on on the fast track to the hall of fame. At least, not the last time I checked.

Question: If a sports writer drinks a gallon of coffee to type a thousand words, is that at all like when an athlete uses performance enhancing drugs? Just to be on the safe side, I?m never ordering coffee with ?the cream? ever again.


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