"So how do we, as a society, address the result here? Bud Selig won't act. Congress can't do much about the records. It's up to the fans and the media.
"We shouldn't even talk about home run record holders anymore. No one holds the records now. With Bonds, since he's still playing, we should use the Amish approach. Shun him. From here on, when he hits one out, just call them asterisks. 'Bonds hit his 756th asterisk last night.' That's it. One line in the newspaper. Because if you glorify it, you reinforce it. Just asterisk his ass. This is what you wanted so badly, Barry? O.K., you got it. But guess what, Barry. Maybe it's not what you thought."
I CALL A Sunday school teacher, who happens to be a sportswriter, to ask if he and his media colleagues could asterisk Barry's ass. A lovely idea, says Terence Moore, columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but it will never happen because, for one, reporters shouldn't make or influence the news, and second, editors would fear alienating a public hungering for much more than one sentence about Barry Bonds's blasts.
But Terence, who has taught teenagers about values on Sundays for the last 15 years, will take a stand. Rule 5 on his Hall of Fame ballot instructions states: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character...." and so the names of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds will never appear on Terence's ballot.
"This is worse than the Black Sox scandal," Terence says. "That was several players fixing one World Series. This is a much larger group of players fixing records that may last for decades. This story has become baseball's Watergate. It started as a minor break-in and just kept growing, week after week.
" McGwire's obviously guilty. There's been a huge feeling in the black community that everyone was going after Bonds while McGwire was getting a pass, but people can't say that now.
"I'd love to see the crowd respond with silence when Bonds passes Aaron. But there will be 50,000 people in San Francisco going wild. Poetic justice would be, Bud Selig's not there when it happens, because remember where the commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, was when Aaron passed Ruth? He was in Cleveland talking to the Indians' fan club. In Cleveland addressing the Wahoo Club."
I wonder, out loud, what sort of family dinner tables all these ballplayers sat around as kids, and then about the family dinner tables of all the people--41% of those under 30 years old, according to a New York Times poll--who don't care if pro athletes use steroids. What would've happened to Barry, I ask Terence, if he'd sat at your dinner table?
"Ohhh, boy," says Terence. "You see, my mother and father both had nine siblings, and all but two of the 18 lived in South Bend, where I grew up. Moral authority was everywhere I turned. My grandmother's leather strap; he might get that first. Then my grandfather would come in from the farm and thump him with one big finger--I mean, thump him so hard, he'd fly across the room. Then my mom would get her switch from the willow tree. Then Dad would come home from work with his belt. If Barry Bonds sat at our dinner table on a Sunday afternoon, oh ... my ... goodness."
I DIAL A Catholic priest. Someone who knows what happens when an institution holds its silence as the cesspool rises. Someone who has seen the cost when loyalty to the brotherhood somehow becomes the higher law, more important than even, say, the life of a kid.