Baseball, the game that survived a civil war, two world wars, countless labor-related work stoppages and Bob Costas, died today after a lingering illness.

There’s doubt and dissension about who invented baseball. If you accept Alexander Cartwright and reject Abner Doubleday, the game was precisely 162 years old. Or the same number of fraudulent games Barry Bonds had the opportunity to play per season throughout the second half of his career.

Coincidence? I think not.

We can conduct everything short of a paternity test to determine the father of America’s late, great pastime and debate it until we’ve wrecked the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and suffocating cologne in the atmosphere of our favorite sports watering hole.

There is zip, zero, nada argument about who killed baseball.

His name is Barry Lamar Bonds. He is a self-aggrandizing jerk who cared more about his own, hollow legacy than the history of the game that made him remotely relevant.

Bonds is Terrell Owens and Kobe Bryant rolled into one, filtered through Ty Cobb and multiplied by 756.

He makes no apologies for being perhaps the world’s worst teammate.

He takes no responsibility for the manner in which any of his actions, those suspected and those waved in our face, influence the next generation or affect baseball at large.

And he deserves no place in Cooperstown, no wiggle room in the discussion of baseball’s power hitters, no chance of parole.

For crimes against the game Bonds never realized was bigger than he is, the Sultan of Synthetics must hover in folk hero purgatory with Joe Jackson and Pete Rose until long after his great-great-great-grandchildren are keeping the cemetery grass green.

There, Bonds will always have revisionist historians eager to defend his place among the many other alleged drunkards, racists and scofflaws that reside in the hallowed Hall of Fame.

We’ve heard it before. Of Jackson, “He only took the money.” Of Rose, “There was no conclusive proof that he bet against his own team.” Of Bonds, “He never failed a drug test. And everyone else was doing it.”

Oh, don’t forget to throw in my other favorite: “How do we know Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth weren’t using steroids?”

Good Lord. Ruth’s drugs of choice were meat by-products and grog. If somebody can’t see that, I humbly suggest that they should submit to a drug test.

Aaron was merely a model of consistency, never hitting 50 home runs in a season while toiling under the microscope of honest-to-goodness racism that would make Bonds and Gary Sheffield wet their pants.

The idea that Bonds has supplanted Aaron in any sense of the word should bring anyone who grew up on this game and refused to give up on this game to bitter tears.

It’s irrelevant that the skinny, five-tool Bonds was an MVP-caliber player for a decade.

Had he retired in 1995, Bonds could be afforded a place in baseball’s Elysian fields as the angry man’s Kirby Puckett on the grounds of good numbers, a slew of individual honors and his identity as the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the last span when they mattered.

Instead, he kept playing on the opposite coast, growing into Paul Bunyan before our eyes. With every swing of that axe that polluted McCovey Cove, Bonds forever stained a game that was once played and worshipped for its innocence from sea to shining sea.

Barry Bonds’ possession of the all-time home run record is the lethal injection that killed baseball.

May it rest in peace. And may the remnants of sports’ most beloved milestone haunt the perpetrator as long as he lives.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. Read and comment on his blog at www.sunjournal.com.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.