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This is the longest, saddest day of my life as a sports fan.

Longer than the day after the Colts lost to the Jets in Super Bowl III, sadder than the days after the Orioles dropped the seventh games to the Pirates in the 1971 and 1979 World Series.

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Blissfully, I was sleeping last night when Barry Bonds hit the 756th home run of his career to pass Hank Aaron for the all-time lead. The news that he connected off Washington Nationals pitcher Mike Bacsik in the fifth inning on a 3-2 pitch to right-center was the first thing that confronted me this morning as I awoke. And it stinks.

While Bonds can claim with his perpetually dour countenance that his home run mark is not tainted, it is and always will be tainted. Because we know.

We will always know that Bonds cheated the great game of baseball and by extension, all of us, by taking performance-enhancing drugs. And he's done it without a seeming moment of regret or remorse.

Bonds' achievement is the ultimate symbol of the ends justifying the means, might winning out over right, the raised middle finger in all our faces.

Worse yet, for me, as a black man who has loved baseball my entire life, what I resent most about what Bonds has done is that he has driven a wedge between African-Americans, allowing, almost encouraging some to paint Aaron as a lesser man.

During his pursuit of Babe Ruth and in the years since, Aaron endured the slings and arrows of racism and death threats in silence and with a humble grace. Bonds, meanwhile, has been surly, defiant and belittling to any who challenge him.

The truth is and always will be that Henry Louis Aaron is an icon, a legend, a hero.

Until Alex Rodriguez or whomever catches him, Barry Lamar Bonds is now, and always will be just a place-holder, a despicable name on a page. Nothing more, nothing less. And knowing that makes me feel a little better.

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