Imagine this moment if you will.... Hank Aaron walks to the center of the diamond at the 2011 MLB All-Star Game in Arizona not to throw out the first pitch, but to see the greatest record in the history of professional sports returned to him - the all-time home run record.
The sold-out stadium rises to their feet and gives "Hammerin' Hank" a 20-minute standing ovation and with this ovation, the game of baseball takes its first true step away from the most damaging era in baseball history. Next, each All-Star walks up to Hank one at a time to shake his hand and pay their respects to baseball's true home run king.
A moment of fiction? Maybe not thanks to the "guilty" verdict handed down to current all-time home run leader Barry Bonds earlier today. Bonds was found guilty of misleading and evading testimony in a 2003 steroid probe. Although jurors were deadlocked on three additional counts of perjury, Bonds is nevertheless a convicted felon now facing a maximum 10 year jail sentence.
The only question is whether or not Major League Baseball will finally do the right thing and return the all-time home run record to a class act player who didn't need performance enhancing drugs to pass Babe Ruth record on his way to 755.
If Baseball truly wants to part ways with an era it would rather forget, this verdict could be the perfect opportunity to do so. For as long as Barry Bonds holds the all-time home run record, we'll spend the rest of our lives explaining to future generations why Barry Bonds is the all-time record holder, yet not recognized as such by the majority of baseball fans.
The ball is now in the hands of Bud Selig and the MLB brass to do what is best for the game. If being guilty in the eyes of your peers, baseball writers, historians, fans and in a court of law isn't enough, nothing ever can or will be enough.
One thing is for certain, Hank Aaron didn't do performance enhancing drugs, so why should he and the game of baseball forever pay the price? If college sports can erase championships, why can't baseball take individual records away from those who broke the rules to break the record?
Doing this would put us just three players away from returning honor to the record book of America's most storied game. Those names - Sosa, McGwire and A-Rod. At the very least, erasing Sosa and McGwire's numbers would lead to the restoration of Roger Maris' single season record. Below is a glimpse at what this revised record book would look like.
All-Time Home Run Leaders:
Barry Bonds - 762
- Hank Aaron - 755
- Babe Ruth - 714
- Willie Mays - 660
- Ken Griffey, Jr. - 630
All-Time Single Season Home Run Leaders:
Barry Bonds - 73 Mark McGwire - 70 Sammy Sosa - 66 Mark McGwire - 65 Sammy Sosa - 64 Sammy Sosa - 63
- Roger Maris - 61
- Babe Ruth - 60
- Babe Ruth - 59
- Jimmie Fox - 58
- Hank Greenberg - 58
- Ryan Howard - 58