As Barry Bonds hoisted his powerful arms up into the air after launching the shot heard 'round the world, a great burden was lifted.
Not just Barry's burden. Not just the ever increasing weight placed upon him by a vicious and inhumane media. But a burden felt by all baseball fans. A burden carried by all people.
And now that the chase is over. The quest conquered. The haj complete. We must all look to heal from the damage that the mainstream media has inflicted upon us during the course of Barry's chase.
The best way to heal? Exalt in the majesty of Mr. Bonds' triumph.
If the media can finally lay bias to rest and simply give the new Home Run King the fair treatment and respect due, baseball can recover. Bonds can recover. We can all recover.
The time has come to treat Bonds as we have treated every other player that has performed at super human levels and attained unmatched supremacy.
Is Bonds the first player to be accused of "cheating"?
How many players in the Hall of Fame had reputations as cheaters? How many pushed the limits of the technology available during their careers? Ty Cobb? Gaylord Perry? How many others?
Yet, we kind of snicker about Gaylord Perry and his spit balls. About Ty Cobb and his sharpening his cleats and other tactics. And we vote them into the Hall of Fame with nary a word of dissention.
But, Barry Bonds comes along and is crucified. Grand Juries are convened. Expose books are written. Fans are whipped into a frenzy and urged to take an indignant stance to his accomplishment.
What did Bonds do that separates him from all the others that have operated in a gray area, or just plain cheated in sports?
Bonds played in an era in which MLB purposely and willfully turned its collective back to what was going on with a large portion of the players. The league didn't conduct testing. The league didn't even officially ban many substances. While players began to look like bodybuilders and home runs flew out of parks at unheard of rates, the commissioner and the owners counted receipts. They posed as those three monkeys with their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.
And now, when they are called onto the carpet for what transpired, for what they allowed and encouraged through complicit silence...now, we are to all accept that Bonds is the anti-christ in all this?
Players like Bonds are driven. What makes them great is their will to succeed. Part of that is to excel through any means necessary. And, if there is a loop hole in the system, they will find it. In fact, we'd argue that they are encouraged to find it.
Lance Armstrong is a hero. Beloved by the media, and therefore the fans. But, there is more dirt out there on him than any superstar athlete. More individuals connect him to doping than any athlete. He has been returned dubious test results.
But no mention of placing an asterisk next to his name in the record books.
Armstrong is cherished.
It's time to cherish Bonds. To honor his accomplishments. To look past the accusations and the character assaults. It's time to understand that he played the game during an era that encouraged and allowed players to take that extra step. To go above and beyond normal training methods.
Baseball is redefining itself and the owners and commissioner have now been forced to address the issue. But that doesn't change the fact that for decades they silently sat by and watched. And Bonds should not be the lone scapegoat burned in effigy by the media.
MLB created Barry Bonds. He is of their doing. MLB's very own "frankenstein".
To unleash him, and then pretend he didn't become exactly what MLB expected or wanted is the greatest lie in all of this.
The key to moving forward now that the chase has ended is honoring baseball's greatest creation.
Baseball purists argue that Bonds is bad for the game. That his being the Home Run King tarnishes the purity of the game.
Well, any organization that would silently stand by and pretend to not see what went on, and then later accept no responsibility for it, is an impure entity.
The only pure entity in all of this?
Honor it. So we can all heal. Together.