With every home run Barry Bonds smacks out of the margin between him and Hank Aaron, he becomes more and more hated. I think it's fair to say that Bonds is one of -if not the- most reviled athlete in sports history.
It's easy to believe, amidst all the fist-shaking and cursing, that Bonds is completely a product of steroids, that if he hadn't juiced, he'd be just another baseball player. That's not the case. There's much more to home run hitting than muscles. Technique, repetition, and a good swing are much more important than brute strength. This is why Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't a Hall of Fame baseball player. And according to baseball scouts, Bonds has one of the sweetest-looking swings in the majors.
Consider this: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and George Foster have all hit 50 homers in a season. All weighed less than 185 lbs. during that year. Their success wasn't based on biceps.
Another common thread of thought is that Bonds wasn't a power hitter, but then took 'roids and blew up like a balloon. Wrong again. Let's operate under the assumption that the book League of Shadows is correct, and that Bonds began taking steroids after the 1998 season. Before Bonds' steroid use, he averaged around 35 homers per year. The Twins' Justin Morneau, thought of primarily as a slugger, won the AL MVP last season with 34. 35 is nowhere close to shabby.
In the 7 years after Bonds' juicing began (not including a season where he was injured, and not including this season) Bonds has hit 45 homers per year. That's a big jump, yes. But let's say Bonds continued to hit his 35 homers per year all the way up until now. Add in the 19 from this season. And, without the 73 homer season, Bonds would be walked considerably less, and thus having more homer opportunities. Let's add 10. This puts him at a grand total, completely clean of steroids, at 685 home runs. Still past Babe Ruth. Still Hall of Fame material. If Bonds played another 2 years, and kept up the average of 35 per season, guess where that lands him? 755 on the money.
I'm not saying Bonds is right to take steroids. But I am saying that steroids' impact on the game of baseball is pretty overrated. I'd say on a scale of Jaywalking to Murder, it falls somewhere around Shoplifting.
And I'm not saying you have to like Barry Bonds. I'm just saying you should recognize the fact that, even without steroids, he's one of the all-time great baseball players.