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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Updated: May 25, 11:37 AM ET
A fistful of reasons to root for Bonds

By Eric Adelson
ESPN The Magazine

I want Barry Bonds to break the home run record.

I want Bonds to break the record because Jason Giambi gets paid $120 million to be a home run hitter, won Comeback Player of the Year after apologizing for something or other, said steroids didn't really help him, promised to discuss the topic in full "one day," and yet receives nothing at all like the venom flung at Bonds.

I want Bonds to break the record because Kenny Rogers had a strange substance on his hand during the World Series, and he was not disciplined, nor was he even chastised. Rogers allegedly did something to gain an advantage, even though it was illegal, and in his case, well, that's baseball.

Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds is being unfairly singled out as a suspected steroid user.
I want Bonds to break the record because as a member of the media, if I want to ask him a question, I know where to find him. He will probably not answer my question, but at least I can ask. Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Grimsley aren't exactly making themselves available to the media these days. Barry Bonds comes out every day and goes to the ballpark, where millions can see him. When the world thinks of steroids, they think of "Barroid," even though he is only one of many suspected of using them.

I want Bonds to break the record because he came closer to telling the truth than Palmeiro or McGwire or Sammy Sosa. He does not smile for the cameras now, only to cower later. With Bonds, what you see is pretty much what you get.

I want Bonds to break the record because he plays every game he can. He travels with the team. He does not retire and unretire every season.

I want Bonds to break the record because he is not the first star baseball player to show poor character, but he might be the first star baseball player to show poor character without a world of apologists who look the other way.

Barry Bonds
Love him or hate him, Bonds is a victim of hypocritical treatment.
I want Bonds to break the record because baseball made a mistake, and now all the punishment is landing on one person. It is easier to blame one person than to consider that perhaps a majority of players have broken the rules. Then whose fault is it?

I want Bonds to break the record because even though Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron never faced a split-finger fastball or a pitcher on steroids, no one believes they deserve asterisks by their names.

I want Bonds to break the record because I am tired of baseball's constant celebration of its past, when its past is tinged with bigotry and racism. What would the record book look like if blacks were allowed to play when Jack Johnson won the heavyweight title or when Jesse Owens won an Olympic gold medal?

I want Bonds to break the record because when someone threw a phony syringe at him, he calmly picked it up and removed it from the field.

I want Bonds to break the record because the spite of millions rain down on him not because he is an alleged cheater -- so many are alleged cheaters -- but because he is the most powerful alleged cheater ever to play a game soiled by alleged cheaters.

I want Bonds to break the record because if he wasn't so good, maybe baseball would never deal with its steroids problem.

I want Bonds to break the record so that kids will ask their parents, "If the commissioner is reluctant to come to the park for the celebration, why is he also reluctant to insist on testing for HGH?"

I want Barry Bonds to break the record because I believe baseball sold its soul to the home run devil, and it deserves to crown a home run villain with its most precious mark.

Eric Adelson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.