On August 7th, 2007, at 8:51 p.m. (Pacific Time), during his third at bat, on a 3 and 2 count, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run, passing the all-time great, Hank Aaron. As I watched the moment (about ten minutes worth of the repeated swing, trot around the bases, and rejoicing), I was struck by two images: one, the shot of Barry sticking his arms in the air as soon as he hit the ball (against a back drop of fans who simultaneously stuck their arms in the air); and the shot of fans who placed asterisks above their heads.

Give me a break, baseball purists: there’s no need for asterisks. No sport has prided itself more on cheating than baseball: from spit balls to corked bats to gambling scandals (from Shoeless Joe to Pete Rose) to, I don’t know, not letting black people in the game. It has more than its share of “unwritten rules” that amount to vigilante justice (see Roger Clemons putting one right between the jersey numbers of Alex Rios because Josh Towers tuned up Alex Rodriguez for his antics many games ago). Players have repeated the mantra that “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying” and “it’s only cheating if you get caught.” So don’t talk to me about the integrity of the game and the sacrosanct nature of your numbers.

Barry Bonds has become the poster boy of the “steroid era” (by the way, I don’t think race plays a factor in why Barry Bonds has taken so much flak, unless a-hole has become a race). Did Barry Bonds take steroids? To quote Roger Lodge “You might as well ask me if O.J. did it,” because the circumstantial case is fairly conclusive.

Athletes are constantly looking for an edge. Steroids turns average players into pretty good players, pretty good players into all stars, and all stars into hall of famers. We have ‘roided up hitters playing against ‘roided up pitchers. Barry Bonds was a hall of fame bound player still looking for an edge.

For many, the record is tainted. Commissioner Bud Selig has ducked out from the Bonds homerun watch as much as possible pretending that his hands are clean. We want to believe all these athletes perform clean. When we thing about the Hank Aarons and Jackie Robinsons of the game and what all they went through, we feel that Bonds doesn’t deserve it (and certainly doesn’t live up to their legacy).

However, even as a non-baseball fan, I recognize that this is still an important moment with a shadow about it. I applaud the moment if not the person. Spare me any talk about your “hallowed numbers” because if nothing else, your complaints will only last until Alex Rodriguez takes the record from Bonds in the next decade.