My work schedule runs through a two-week cycle. One week I am busier during the middle of the week. The other week I am busier during the weekend.
This week I am busier during the middle of week, which explains why I haven't been keeping up on my favorite blogs the last few days. I've also been worn down by the news of the sports world. For example, the NBA roundup that I put in today's newspaper included: a lawsuit, an arrest, a suspension and an apology. The NFL roundup featured a death and an arrest (a slow day for the usually lawless NFL).
The baseball roundup? Steroidpalooza. I'm sick of it. And so is everyone else. And that explains why Hank Aaron is growing into an almost mythical figure while he is still alive. Honestly, the way Aaron is treated nowadays is nothing like he was treated even 15 years ago, and 180 degrees away from the way he was treated 35 years ago. I am convinced that after Aaron's death, he will have Jackie Robinson status. Who knows, maybe baseball will be retiring No. 44 for good.
I don't know if I subscribe to the idea that Aaron is the true home run king. To me, the man with the most home runs is the true home run king. But Aaron is certainly the man with the most home runs who isn't a whining, cheating, egotistical, lost-his-morals-in-a-poker-game jerk. And to me, that counts for everything. The real home run champion? Well, that'd be Barry Bonds, I guess. But the man who did things right? That would be Mr. Aaron.
On April 8, 2009, baseball will celebrate the 35th anniversary of Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run, struck off of Dodgers starter Al Downing and sent into the night sky at Atlanta Stadium. (By the way, a little known fact: the Dodgers committed six errors in that game. SIX. And a passed ball. This is a team that would make it to the World Series that year).
On that day less than two months from now, there will be a lot of talk about Aaron being the real home run champion. But I'll know better. He's not the real home run champion. He's just the real human being.