HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 13, 2006

A week of milestone moments

By Matt Kane

What a week in Major League Baseball.

The most well-known record in all of sports fell; two players punched their tickets to Cooperstown; and one did something he had never done before.

When thinking about what to write about for “High and Outside” this week, I finally came to the decision that there is no way I should not write something about the new Major League Baseball home run king, Barry Bonds.

I try to think of out-side the box issues to write about, but than I came to reason that I am a sports writer and should not pass up one of the biggest moments in sports history.

In the weeks leading up to Bonds record-breaking 756th home run, which he hit Tuesday night in San Francisco off Washington Nationals’ pitcher Mike Bacsik, I wasn’t sure how I would feel when Bonds passed the great Henry Aaron as the game’s best power hitter.

I think all the speculation that Bonds, himself, and his numbers have been artificially inflated was getting to me, making me cynical towards Bonds and the thought of him breaking the record. I like many baseball fans would liked to have seen the record stay with Aaron, but I and all those other fans knew that wouldn’t be the case.

Never being a big Bonds backer, I surprised myself Tuesday night. As soon as Bonds hit Bacsik’s 3-2 pitch towards the center field bleachers, my eyes were glued to the television and my mouth formed a proud smile.

I don’t know what I was proud about, Bonds did all the work, but I think it has something to do with being a proud baseball fan, and it seeing a monumental record break. I don’t remember, but I’m sure I had that same smile, albeit absent some bushy facial hair, in 1991 when Rickey Henderson became the stolen base king, in 1995 when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record, and in 1998 when Mark McGwire became the single season home run champion.

All those records were held for decades by the former leaders, and all of a sudden someone in my era of baseball is taking over as the best. That, to me, is something to be proud of.

It must have been the softy in me, but I felt, as Bonds rounded the bases with a smile, a big weight had been lifted off Bonds’ chest. Usually seeing Bonds snap at reporters, or answer questions with no emotion, it was nice to see him smile for once. And the postgame interviews he gave showed that same smile.

Bonds’ statistics are certainly hall of fame worthy, and sure to join him are Alex Rodriguez and Tom Glavine.

A 300th pitching victory is something baseball fans may not see in quite a while. If that’s the case, Glavine will be the name associated with the last pitcher to reach the mark. He did so Sunday night after pitching 6 1/3 innings in the Mets’ 8-3 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Collecting 300 wins has become rare in baseball. Before Glavine, Greg Maddux was the last 300 game winner in 2004. Since the end of World War II, only 11 pitchers have won 300 games, and Glavine is only the fourth pitcher to reach the number since 1990. Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens and Maddux are the other three.

Just a day before Glavine reserved his spot in the hall of fame, Alex Rodriguez did the same with his bat.

Rodriguez launched home run number 500 Aug. 4 off Kansas City pitcher Kyle Davies. In doing so, Rodriguez became the youngest player to hit 500 home runs.

Six days before Rodriguez joined the other 21 members of the 500 home run club, Twins outfielder Jason Tyner became a slugger.

After 1,220 major league at-bats, on July 28, Tyner laced a Jake Westbrook pitch 352 feet over the right field wall at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. That leaves him 499 shy of the 500 club, and 756 shy of Bonds, who hit number 757 Wednesday. Good luck, Jason.

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