Forget about Barry, there's still alot to love about this game.

Anyone who deluded his or herself into the magical belief that by merely shutting their eyes or for that matter shutting off the television, they could somehow prevent baseball’s biggest pariah Barry Bonds from tying Henry Aaron’s all-time homerun record most open them up today and face the ultimate reality: he did it. At 756 homeruns Barry Bonds will become baseball’s all-time leader. The record that stood for more than 30 years, that held by one of the game’s most exciting players will be kapoot, gone forever. Goodbye. Barry may break it today against the SanDiego Padres. He may do it back in San Francisco soon. He may do it on the first day of September. Regardless of when he does it, he’ll certainly do it, and there’s no point in turning your back on the game or turning your satellite dish off to prevent it from happening.

As Hank Aaron has said, baseball is a sport of records that are meant to be broken. If for no other reason, baseball, the game of statistics ranging from concrete to slightly inane will always be one in which feats and hallmarks can be shattered. No matter how unbreakable a player or franchise’s individual record may be, there is always something looming in the future, a sniper of sorts to tear it down. And therein lies the solution to the collective depression of Barry Bonds, the bionically-modified slugger seems to have brought about in most ballplayers who live outside of the Bay Area.

The solution: A clever nickname coined to describe the man who may be baseball’s greatest living hitter: A-Rod.

Whether you like Alex Rodriguez or not  is of no importance. So long as you consider yourself a baseball purist–and let’s face it, steroids or not, baseball is about as pure as Jason Giambi’s syringe–the looming sniper of of someone breaking Barry Bonds’ homerun record is quite a sweet relief.

Sure, he may come across as the second most conceited player in the game (Barry is perhaps number one) but Alex Rodriguez has the best chance of anyone who has not been genetically enhanced of breaking Barry Bonds’ record. The excitement that surrounded Mark McGwire’s quest for 70 homeruns was replaced three years later with that of Bonds’ 76. How much sweeter will it be when the memory of the steroid era is diminished when Alex Rodriguez crushes something more than 400 feet into the screaming gallery of fans and attains–albeit for a finite time–baseball’s greatest acheivement.

Barring tragedy, A-Rod can do it. How sweet it was that on the same early August day that Barry Bonds tied Hammerin’ Hank, Alex Rodriguez reached the milestone that separates a career power hitter from a Hall of Fame member, crushing his 500th homerun.

I’m not a terribly big Alex Rodriguez fan myself. I root for the team that plays one borough beneath him, just over the Whitestone Bridge. I was dissapointed when he collapsed in the 2004 ALCS (although most people could never hit the way he did in the first three games) and I was even more angry when in Game 6, he smacked the ball from Bronson Arroyo’s hand. Regardless, he’s a great player and pretty exciting to watch. The fact that the Mets have had his number in key games endears me more to him.

Let’s face it, baseball will never be perfect. But if we are to hold it up as our nation’s pastime, then we should embrace the fact that like our country, Baseball must always have room to improve itself and that it is the duty of the game to look for better ways to become a more perfect sport.

Just because we have endured more than six years of some of the worst governance in American history doesn’t mean we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, for we can strive to do better the next time around by better vigilance and demanding more. To be a fan of Major League Baseball requires the same diligence and fortitude.

Last week, major league baseball inducted two great hitters from my childhood: Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripkin Jr. Both players were embodied the ethic that most baseball purists are perhaps missing when they see Barry Bonds on television.

Surely out there, somewhere between Brooklyn, NY and La Jolla, CA or wedged from Fargo, ND to San Antonio, TX there are kids who are working dilligently to develop themselves in the same mold of these two great players.

I believe that is the case. And don’t forget, baseball extends beyond the borders of the US to sleepy backwaters in the Dominican Republic to Venezuela and far beyond to East Asia.

Watching the tremendously talented Ichiro Suzuki, who made his Major League debut while Gwynn and Ripkin were calling it curtains must inspire something that gives baseball the redeeming qualities that must make us hold on for another season, another generation.

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