Bonds passes torch

Is it because of his knee? The bone chips in his elbow? Possibly the steroids wore off? Maybe it’s way too early and I should shut up. But it appears that Barry Bonds is no longer the dominant force he once was.

Steroids or not, he was the greatest hitter of our age. Between hand-eye coordination, pitch recognition and bat speed, Bonds was a once-in-a lifetime hitter, or so we once thought.

I gritted my teeth and watched as the Pac Bell faithful made chicken noises at opposing pitchers for giving Barry the intentional pass. I was in awe of Bonds’ power, but at the same time I have made up my mind on my opinion of the man.

But to have such talent that the opposing manager thinks it’s better to forfeit first base because more than likely you’ll get farther? That’s incredible. Hate the man or not, I tried to appreciate the sports era.

The man hit 73 home runs in a season, had an on base percentage of .609, and has batted .370 in a season. The important part of that stat-line – it was all past tense. The best of Bonds is surely over. But don’t fret, Bonds represents everything that is bad about professional athletes and the tides are turning. Bonds would never do it in person, but he is, in fact, handing over the torch to a man in St. Louis.

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So Taguchi! Haha.

No, in fact that man is Albert Pujols. He has gotten credit in his young career- the man is 26 and has already collected an MVP award. But until now, Pujols – the next phenomenal hitter – has been cast in a shadow from the west. Starting this season, Pujols has moved into the spotlight and taken the torch as the next GREAT hitter. People will start intentionally walking Pujols despite the cushion the Cardinal lineup can provide him with. Rolen is fantastic, Edmonds is dangerous and Pujols is deadly. He is a career .330 hitter already, he hits 40 plus home runs and drives in 120 plus with regularity. His numbers are shockingly similar in his first five seasons to legends like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.

Albert Pujols is in fact the reincarnation of Montezuma.

It happened with celestial timing. Bonds started off the season struggling, while Pujols started off well. Bonds appeared on ESPN missing straight fastballs and looping them into left field on the same day that Pujols hit three home runs, including a walk-off homer in the ninth. The perfect day to crown the new sultan of swat and what a blessing this is for baseball fans.

The fans who watched Bonds’ antics for so many years, listened to his statements and wondered just how many home runs he would have hit if he didn’t have the juice. Instead the nation can turn its attention towards a wholesome star. Pujols is a gentleman on and off the field. I have never heard a bad word about Big Al’s conduct. I have heard a story about an elderly couple who approached him for autographs and got field tickets. I have heard stories about him flipping baseballs to people in the crowd and taking the time later to sign them. And of course there is the much publicized work Pujols has done with down syndrome patients.

Bonds put himself in the corner through years and years of being difficult. Pujols waited in the wings and drew no attention to himself away from the field. I am glad that a person like Pujols is as physically gifted as he is; may he reign for years to come.

Ian Gold is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected].