Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas on Barry Bonds, originally posted as an ESPN.com article in April, 2006.
Things, as they say, have been better.
I'm only thirty-three years old, so I'll concede that my life experience is limited. But the past five years have been an especially depressing stretch to be an American, and I don't think many people of any age would disagree with that sentiment (except for maybe Kelly Clarkson -- things seem to be working out okay for her). If it has been the era of anything, it has been The Era of Predictable Disillusionment; it's been a half-decade where many long-standing fears about how America worked (and what America no longer represented) were gradually -- and then suddenly -- hammered into the collective consciousness of just about everyone, including all the people who weren't paying attention to begin with.
This will not be lost on future historians.
This will not be lost on future historians, and -- in fifty years, or in two hundred years -- they will search for events within the popular culture that embodied the zeitgeist of this particular time. Some of these people will use sports, not unlike the way contemporary historians might use Seabiscuit as an allegory for the 1930s or Muhammad Ali as a means to define the 1960s. And when those future historians try to explain what was wrong with the world early in the twenty-first century, I suspect they will use Barry Bonds.
Here was a man accomplishing unbelievable things -- things that were so unbelievable that they literally should not have been believed, even as they were happening. But we did not really believe or disbelieve; we just sort of watched it happen, and then we watched it get out of control, and then we expressed shock without feeling a grain of surprise, and then we tried to figure out how we were supposed to reconcile an alien reality we unconsciously understood all along. So if you're wondering how to feel about Barry passing Babe, here's one option: you can feel like you're experiencing how the present tense will be understood in the future.
Tags: Chuck Klosterman, Barry Bonds, A-Rod