Hey, are you there, God? It's me, a sports fan. I usually try not to bother you with sports-related prayers, because I know heaven's airwaves are jammed. Between Cubs fans and athletes praying for four-touchdown, 50-point or multigoal games, I wouldn't blame you for installing a heavenly mute button.
But I've got a critical request that requires your immediate attention. God, if you do this, I promise to be kind, generous and compassionate. At least for the next 30 minutes.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Can anything, or anyone, stop Bonds at this point?
(OK, maybe smiting is a little extreme. Could you conjure up some locusts every time he bats? Give him a few boils? Crack a stone tablet over his head?)
I know the Bible says vengeance is your department. But might you consider speeding things up?
Maybe you can make it so Kirk Radomski -- the ex-Mets employee who pled guilty last week to providing dozens of major leaguers with performance-enhancing drugs -- snitches on Bonds like Donnie Brasco. Perhaps you can infuse former Senator George Mitchell with the spirit of Colombo so Bonds can finally stop evading punishment.
If Bonds breaks the home run record, it will be like the O.J. Simpson trial all over again. A recent ESPN/ABC poll showed whites and blacks are split along racial lines concerning Bonds. According to the poll, most black people support Bonds' breaking the record and believe he never took steroids. Meanwhile, most whites think the opposite.
Guess the pollsters didn't have my phone number.
It's too bad some people are more concerned with race than right. Blacks have been unjustly persecuted in the court of law and public opinion, but supporting one lout doesn't erase, compensate or change those injustices.
I realize everyone deserves a little blame for Bonds' breaking the record. And, in many ways, the most appropriate punishment for baseball is to see a hallowed record broken by its most significant alleged cheater (of course, you know if he actually cheated or not).
The players, owners, and even the commissioner sanctioned the use of steroids for years for their own selfish purposes. They didn't care that they were turning Major League Baseball into a Sega Genesis game, or that the players could have passed for pro wrestlers. And the fans should not escape blame, either. They supported the steroid era, and in a great display of hypocrisy they have willingly chosen to ignore the steroid-induced nature of the NFL because of the entertainment value. I'm sure their selective outrage amuses you.
And sure, the use of steroids in baseball didn't begin with Bonds. And players will continue to use some variation of performance enhancers long after he has left the game. Although Bonds is being more heavily scrutinized because of the record he is pursuing, others deserve just as much public scorn (Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro). And some reputations remain untarnished despite their names having been linked to steroids (Roger Clemens', Andy Pettitte's), which is totally unacceptable.
But God, Hank Aaron deserves better than to see his record broken by an unlikable, arrogant cheater who has done nothing but heighten stereotypes of black athletes. He is unquestionably a Hall of Famer and the best player of this generation -- but he is not nearly the man Aaron is, and should not surpass him in any way.
You gave Aaron incredible poise under such unimaginable duress. Aaron received 3,000 letters a day the year he pursued Babe Ruth's record, and was called the n-word and myriad other racial epithets so much, it's a wonder he remembered his name. Aaron's life was threatened many times. The racism Bonds alludes to is nothing compared to what Aaron faced, and the general lack of support directed at Bonds is self-created.
All Aaron did was seize an opportunity he earned. He wasn't the key figure in a federal steroids investigation, wasn't the subject of two books that detailed his petulancy and penchant for performance enhancers, and didn't feud with and demean his teammates. This turn-the-other-cheek thing can be overrated, but Aaron's decision to take the moral high ground during such tense times was powerful and transcending.
That sort of dignity and honor is often absent in today's sports world. And in the Pacman Jones era, black athletes who show class and give African-Americans a sense of their history should be placed on a higher pedestal.
If I were you, Aaron would be the home run king forever, and not even A-Rod would touch him. But I know that isn't how things work.
Sometimes, the only way for us to see what's right is through what's wrong. One of your mysterious ways, for sure.
Jemele Hill, a Page 2 columnist and writer for ESPN The Magazine, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.