Bonds to Hip-Hop: Hold The Asterisk

There aren’t many opportunities in your life time where you get to be a part of something that marks an era, or that designates a moment of achievement never before attained. Last night, whether you saw it in person, watched it on television, or heard about it in the papers, you experienced Barry Bonds blast off for the 756th time in his career.

756 Homeruns. Let that number marinate for a second. Mickey Mantle couldn’t do it. Willie Mays couldn’t do it. Neither could Ted Williams, or the immortal Babe Ruth. Thirty teams. Over a century of players, and no one before last night ever achieved that lofty goal. Probably the most holy achievement in the annals of sports, the homerun number, is held by a man who, like many prominent people of color, has a dubious relationship with the media.

Barry Bonds has always preferred to insulate himself from the media. He’s been around the game since childhood and saw first hand the build’em up, tear ‘em down nature of idol worship and chose to wall himself off. While this didn’t endear him to the fans, Bonds has managed to craft himself into arguably the greatest baseball player of all time, and definitively of his generation. Allegories to his enhanced figure aside, he’s like the Incredible Hulk: the more you hate him, the stronger he gets. While circumstances behind his evolution to a power hitter have been murky at best, the fact remains that that number, that 756 is chiseled in stone. Asterisk or no.

Perhaps Hip-Hop can learn a thing or two from Barry Bonds. We’re not always cast in a positive light by media, even in the face of advancement and achievement. The higher we got on the charts, the more disdain we got from the establishment, even though we filled their coffers with money hand over fist. Like Bonds we would love the approval of our forebears like Hank Aaron, only to be met with the disassociation of our Oprahs and Cosbys.

Perhaps it’s time for Hip-Hop to wall itself off, and to retreat within itself. To determine a direction and forge ahead without getting bogged down with all the “why do you hate us” articles, and all of the “Hip-Hop is dead” chicanery. We are who we are. We draw our strength from within and not from external factors. Suits don’t determine our strength, we do.

So in closing, congrats Barry. It’s not up to me or even Bud Selig to determine what the value of that 756, or whatever number you finally end up with is. This generation will hold it close like the baby boomers held on to 755, and how the preceding generation held on to 714. Media shouldn’t dictate culture, they should just chronicle it. But thank you Mr. Bonds for providing an example of how to persevere and soldier on against the tide of public and even peer and collegue opinion. Hip-Hoppers take note. When we figure out how to disregard the forces against us, perhaps we too will have our 756. No ‘roids included.