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Sigh of relief

Game moves on after Bonds record; Barry's people

Posted: Wednesday August 8, 2007 10:01AM; Updated: Thursday August 16, 2007 11:58AM
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Barry Bonds' record achievement on Tuesday night was historical and perhaps even inspirational, just like Hank Aaron graciously said up on the big board in San Francisco afterward. It was also uncomfortable and unhappy for most folks who follow baseball.

In particular, it was unhappy for Aaron, who didn't mention in his congratulatory speech the disdain he is known to feel for Bonds. And it was unhappy for known Aaron fan and baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who only missed the big event to attend a pre-scheduled meeting with baseball's chief steroid investigator George Mitchell on Wednesday and is probably relieved that he doesn't have to rejoin the tour, as he had planned to.

Instead, today, Selig is to meet with Mitchell, SI.com has learned. Although, if Mitchell had anything damning and pressing to tell the commissioner about Bonds -- beyond what we already know -- presumably Mitchell would have moved up the meeting in time to interrupt history.

Now, it's too late.

Bonds is the greatest player I'll ever see, and I've said I'll probably vote for him for the Hall of Fame. But this wasn't an especially happy day for baseball, or almost anyone connected to the game. The swing that delivered the record 756th home run was magnificent, the drive a rope, the celebration well done. But that doesn't mean that many outside of the 415 area code were smiling about it.

Perhaps one day baseball or the feds will catch up to Bonds. But if they do, it won't be in time to save Aaron's record, or baseball from an all-time record that deserves an asterisk but will never get one.

If Selig breathes a sigh of relief for escaping No. 756 by some quirk in his steroid-investigation schedule, he surely doesn't feel relieved today.

They cheered like heck in San Francisco. They did what they do in this city of culture when it comes to Bonds, and that is to ignore the obvious.

Bonds is said by a friend to be "oblivious'' to the possibility that an indictment and/or a suspension could follow. But perhaps he is merely confident. Perhaps he knows that the feds will never catch up to him the way he caught up to Aaron. They haven't gotten him yet. And maybe they never will.

Barry's extended thank you list

Bonds appropriately thanked the people of San Francisco, his teammates and his family for supporting him. But he left out a few others who helped along the way. Such as:

1. Nats pitcher Mike Bacsik. Bonds' duels with the great John Smoltz and other stars were legendary, and Bonds beat plenty of superb pitchers in his day, but Bacsik was the perfect foil. He would have been a perfect Washington General, serving meatballs throughout the evening to Bonds, who doubled and singled in his first two at-bats before lining the history maker into the center-field pavilion.

2. NL pitchers in general. Very few pitched around Bonds in the past two weeks. If he took awhile, that was his own fault.

3. Jeff Kent. Bonds' reviled former teammate was good enough that many more pitchers had to pitch to Bonds than probably should have. (Beyond Kent, Bonds pretty much did it on his own, as he is the most walked man in history.)

4. Giants management. It was getting dicey there this winter whether anyone would take Bonds. But finally the team that has employed him since 1993 took him back, knowing that without him, they might never score. The Giants spent $15.8 million (plus incentives that may take it to an even $20 mil), and they got their money's worth, as Bonds has produced like no other 42-year-old in history, and he produced a show.

5. The feds. Perhaps they've got nothing. But certainly, unlike Bonds, they've produced nothing to date.

6. Victor Conte. The mad scientist provided the "flaxseed oil" and more.

7. Greg Anderson. While Bonds is the toast of San Francisco, his underpaid trainer sits in jail. This man is a true friend. Or is he a sucker?