Written by Jonathan Leshanski
Published: 28 September 2007
There are no asterisks in baseball. At least not officially. Ever since MLB took that mark from behind the number 61 and admitted that Roger Maris was the single season home run champion, the dreaded asterisk hasn’t qualified a record since.
Until now. The fans have spoken and the baseball Barry Bonds hit to break Henry Aaron’s all time home record will have an asterisk burned into it before being turned over to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. And best of all, MLB has nothing to do with it. While Bud Selig and the owners have turned a blind eye to the tainted records of the steroid era the fans, led by fashion designer Marc Ecko, decided to take the slugger to task for his use of steroids.
And Ecko, who won the ball at auction and paid over $750,000 for it, opted to let real baseball fans decide. Now when I say real baseball fans, I think I need to qualify just who really voted here. While the poll was open to everyone, the fans who expressed their opinion most vociferously weren’t the casual fans for whom seeing the record meant everything. Those fans never cared enough to look for the well publicized poll, or support Barry, by voting to send the ball unblemished to the Hall.
The fate of the ball was decided by the devout fans who clearly felt that Barry had shown a disrespect for the national pastime and had cheated his way to the record. And if the Hall displays the baseball, that displeasure will forever be known.
Barry’s asterisk will be eternally on display, and will cause generation upon generation to question the man’s integrity and talent. It will be a reminder that there are records on the book, and there are numbers that mean something real.
And that’s the way it should be. Baseball isn’t called the owner’s game, or the Players Union’s game, or even the player’s game. It’s America's game - and this is a revolution which the owners, players and union should be aware of.
This vote is a wake up call that the fans are not happy with how performance enhancing drugs, testing, treatment and punishment are being handled. They feel Barry and others have cheated the game, have cheated baseball’s best, and have cheated us.
If MLB won’t, or can’t, come down on the cheats, the fans will. And Barry’s record will always hang under that cloud, not just of suspicion, but of derision. This asterisk won’t be applied by a commissioner with an interest in seeing a record stay intact. It will say that some records really have never been broken.
This asterisk is a cry of outrage saying that Barry’s record, and by that token Barry himself cannot be believed. The fans have spoken and they’ve spoken eloquently.