Saturday, July 24, 2004

Bonds...Barry Bonds.

Barry Bonds, the best player I've seen personally in 35 years of watching baseball, turned 40 today. He celebrated early by clouting a mammoth three-run blast last night. He had a single in four at-bats today.

At 40, an age at which most baseball superstars have retired or are thinking seriously about it -- Babe Ruth was out of the game by the time he turned 40, and Willie Mays was a shell of his former self by then -- here's what Bonds is doing right now:

• Batting average: .362 (1st in the National League; Sean Casey of the Reds is 2nd with .340)
• Home runs: 25 (5th)
• Runs scored: 75 (5th)
• On-base percentage: .615 (1st; Todd Helton of the Rockies is a distant #2 at .615)
• Slugging percentage: .773 (1st; Jim Thome of the Phillies is 2nd with .656)
• On-base plus slugging: 1.395 (1st; Thome is a flyspeck in the rearview mirror at 1.066)

There will probably always be those who will allege that Bonds's accomplishments of recent years were chemically aided. I don't know the truth of those allegations, and you don't either. But with the new majors-wide random testing program, no one can credibly say Bonds is on the juice this year. What he continues to do at an age when no one in baseball history has performed at this level is nothing short of astonishing.

Happy birthday, Barry. Long may you swing the big stick, and may every last swing be clad in the Orange and Black.

(Incidentally, the Giants beat the Cardinals today, 5-3 in 10 innings.)

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