George Herman Babe Ruth, we all know who Babe Ruth is. He was, is and will always be the measuring stick for greatness in baseball. His 714 career Home Runs withstood challenge until Hammerin' Hank Aaron threw 755 up on the board. There will be others to follow Aaron, Bonds being the next on the list to pass Ruth, but this is not about Aaron or Bonds, it's about the Babe. Let's get some perspective...
Babe Ruth played in what is commonly referred to as the dead-ball era. Before Ruth, the home run was something of a novelty. Babe Ruth was the first player to ever hit 30, 40, 50 or 60 Home Runs in a season. Ruth led the Majors in Home Runs for 12 seasons, and would have had 13 seasons, losing by 4 homers in 1922 after the Babe was suspended for the first six weeks of the season for barnstorming.
Ruth had a career slugging percentage of .690. Ted Williams, considered the best hitter ever, is second at .633, which is absolutely amazing in itself. Not only was Ruth a hitter, but he also won 94 games as a starting pitcher, and had over 20 assists in the outfield one year playing right field for the Yankees.
Babe's career numbers are 2503 games played, a .342 career batting average with 714 HR and 2213 RBI. He played in 41 World Series games, with a career average of .326 with 15 HR and 33 RBI. You saw him coming and you still couldn't stop him.
People are going to vilify Barry Bonds as a scoundrel, cheat, whatever you want to call him, he's been called it before. This week he will pass Babe Ruth's Homer record, but will we be talking about Bonds in the same reverence in which we discuss Ruth? In a word...'NO'.
Bonds is a fantastic ball player, no question about it, juiced up or not, he is among the best to play. Not even comparing his stats to Ruth's, which Ruth has the clear advantage in, Bonds has great numbers. But Barry Bonds is a product of this era. The soundbite, 24 hour sports, mikes in your face, internet frenzied 21st Century. There have been times I am sure when Barry Bonds opened up his fat yap when he wished he didn't. But in this era, there's no going back. He will only be a legend in his own mind.
In fifty years, when our great grand kids are talking about the best ever, Ruth will be among the first mentioned, because his numbers are nearly unmatched and his legend is just that, legend. We'll talk then about whether Barry Bonds is mentioned in the same sentence, or if he's a punchline.
Congratulations Barry Bonds, for what it's worth. Long live the Babe.