Thanks For Coming--Now Go Away
Barry Bonds will have the number.
Hank Aaron keeps the record.
It's that simple, at least to baseball fans living outside the San Francisco area. Bonds is on the cusp of breaking Aaron's all-time home run record this weekend, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy will apparently spare us locals the indignity of having the record fall on Aaron's turf--it was here that he smacked his final dinger, on this very date: July 20th, 1976.
The thinking is that Bonds should set the mark at home--not just to appease his loyal local following but to make sure that the soundtrack is made up of cheers, rather than boos. There's only one place where that's going to happen: A-T-and-T Park.
It's denizens will tell you Bonds is innocent until proven guilty, that others in his era got a pass while he is being made into the poster child for a baseball era gone terribly wrong. It hurts to say it, but they're right. Grand juries keep sniffing, Bud Selig has his own personal bloodhound on the steroid case, but right now Bonds is guilty only of suspicious weight gain and mysteriously strong performances at a very late stage in life.
That said, even if Bonds never smeared on the clear or the cream, even if he never took a needle in his ample ass, he still is a very unlikeable man. A bad teammate. A louse to women. Surly to the press. Indifferent to fans.
Baseball is littered with men of great accomplishment and questionable character (Google "Ty Cobb"). I respect their accomplishments, too, but I don't have to like them as people. Rickey Henderson stole an historic base here a few decades back, and he wasn't the most pleasant sort to ever don a jock.
This is different. This is the ESPN-bigger-than-life-show-the-highlight-on-a-continuous-loop era. This will get mounds of attention--much more than Aaron got when he broke Babe Ruth's mark in the 70's. It wasn't for a lack of interest--there just wasn't all that much media round, comparatively speaking, and the outlets played a different role back then, Sports was the toy box, and news as news. The two seldom cross-pollinated.
Bonds will get his due. I, for one, will skip the ballpark this weekend. Let the souvenir seekers have the bleachers. Let the boo birds air out their lungs--most while taking pictures (?).
Bonds can't be ignored. And, he can't leave Milwaukee soon enough.