Barry Bonds knows what Alex Rodriguez is going through.
Two of baseball’s biggest pariahs during the Steroid Era, Bonds and Rodriguez have much more in common than peformance-enhancing drug suspicions and accusations. They also share the feeling of hollowness that comes with them vaulting up the all-time home run list.
Rodriguez is chasing down another baseball legend in Willie Mays. The New York Yankees designated hitter needs just five home runs to pass Mays on the all-time home runs list, although little if anything will be done to celebrate the accomplishment. However, Bonds — who is Mays’ godson — knows he’ll be celebrating once A-Rod hits No. 661.
“My godfather means the world to me. I love him to a T,” Bonds told USA TODAY Sports. “But when Alex hits No. 660, I’ll be happy for him. Willie will be happy for him. Everybody should be happy for him. Any time anybody in the game does something that’s a great accomplishment, the game of baseball should celebrate that.
“No matter what. Baseball is benefiting from that person’s hard work, so baseball should at least celebrate.”
Bonds also said he was perplexed by all the hate for Rodriguez, who’s widely viewed as one of sports’ biggest villains, especially on the heel of his year-long PED suspension in 2014.
“Why the hate?” Bonds said. “Why hate on something you’re paying to see? I don’t understand it. He’s entertaining us. I wish life wasn’t like that.”
Of course, Bonds’ sympathy for Rodriguez makes plenty of sense. There’s plenty of shared feelings and the two players had similar career arcs as can’t-miss prospects who became the game’s best players only to see their reputation battered under the shroud of PED suspicions.
“This guy (Rodriguez) is not running for president of the United States,” Bonds said. “He’s not running for commissioner. We’re not running for political office. We’re just ballplayers.
“We’re not God. We’re imperfect people. We’re human beings.”
Thumbnail photo via Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports Images