No easy way out
Selig has little choice but to show up for Bonds' 756th
Posted: Wednesday April 25, 2007 11:38AM; Updated: Wednesday April 25, 2007 1:03PM
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LOS ANGELES -- There are celebrations, and then there are de-celebrations, which is a celebration that's in deceleration.
That's what Barry Bonds has to look forward to.
Even though baseball commissioner Bud Selig is thinking seriously about skipping the ceremony, Selig's still more likely than not to be in attendance when Bonds breaks the home-run record of Selig's good friend Hank Aaron.
But that doesn't mean Selig is bringing the bubbly.
In the few weeks between now and the historic record, Selig won't say one word about his or baseball's plans for Bonds. Meanwhile, Selig will wait, and hope for the best, which in his mind is divine intervention.
It's not happening, as Selig must suspect by now. Bonds is hot, and he's healthy. "I'm doing a lot better," he said Tuesday night. "In baseball, you've got to be able to have your legs underneath you."
And if pitchers have no way to stifle Bonds, who has six home runs already, neither do the feds, who appear behind in the game. The prosecutor who was going after Bonds, Kevin V. Ryan, is one of eight who got Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez's boot, and it's hard to think that Ryan's replacement could catch up enough to catch Bonds before Bonds catches up to Aaron.
With 16 to go, Bonds knows he's getting the record and, according to friends, he doesn't give a hoot whether Aaron and Selig are there to see it. Regarding the calls of Aaron and Selig, Bonds said for the record, "I don't have any thoughts on that. I have a lot of respect for them, and that's how I'll leave it."
Some advisers will continue to counsel Selig to stay away in silent objection. But unless he's got the goods on Bonds, he should be there. If he stays away, it will look like a petty protest, one that's unbecoming the leader of the sport. Whether or not there was anything more Selig could have done about baseball's steroid problem (and I'm in the camp that there wasn't much he could have done), he can't very well pretend Bonds' home-run chase isn't happening. It's not only happening, it happened under his watch.
Aaron's call not to go is a lot easier. Like Selig, he has no use for Bonds. But unlike Selig, he isn't commissioner. Aaron is under no obligation. He recently told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution he just may go golfing.
Selig doesn't golf, so he can't use that as an out. Very likely, he also doesn't have diddly on Bonds. All he has is leaked grand jury testimony from Game of Shadows authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, plus baseball investigator George Mitchell's pile of files, which undoubtedly will amount to wasted paper.
Selig has no good excuse not to be there. He's in charge of the sport that is truly in its golden era, as he often points out. But he was also in charge for the steroid era. Whether or not he's there when Bonds breaks Aaron's record, there's no getting around that.
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