|Bud Selig is absent as Bonds tries to break home run record, but roll call doesn't end there|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 August 2007 21:18|
The sight of Selig's dour face watching Barry Bonds tie Hank Aaron's record in San Diego certainly did nothing for the sport, and he must have realized it's time to recognize this for what it really is and let one of his minions do the one-handed clap on his behalf.
Willie Mays was on hand Monday night, and maybe that's appropriate.
In addition to showing Bonds how to play baseball, he also showed him that he could be indifferent to the fans who pay his salary and get away with it. Mays was cantankerous at best over his long career, yet still managed to get a statue of himself erected outside a ballpark where the Giants' faithful gather before games to pay homage to perhaps the greatest player of all time.
The roll call doesn't end there.
Aaron didn't even bother to call in sick for No. 755, and he surely didn't bother to call Bonds and congratulate him on tying him on the home run list. Also missing is trainer Greg Anderson, stuck in a federal prison because he won't rat out his buddy to a grand jury investigating whether Bonds lied when he said he never knowingly used steroids.
Indeed, Bonds' record chase seems a somewhat lonely one, despite an entourage reminiscent of past heavyweight champions. He's got a pair of publicists, two trainers, a personal videographer, his agent and an ever-growing list of family and friends all waiting to congratulate or console him in the hallways behind the clubhouse.
On this first night home, there was more consoling than celebrating. Bonds went 0-3 with a walk, and was outmatched by a rookie pitcher who hadn't even been born when Bonds made his major league debut.
Fans stood and cheered, though, just like many had cheered the tying home run at Petco Park in San Diego. Fans seemed happy they were there to see a moment of history, even one as tainted as this. Still, they booed Bonds when he returned to left field and booed him every time he came up to bat.
It was mildly amusing afterward when Bonds thanked San Diego fans for being so good to him. Maybe he missed the giant asterisk hung on a high-rise condo balcony overlooking right field or maybe he was just happy no one threw a fake syringe at him like last year.
He doesn't have to worry about that this week, now that the Giants are home for seven games before fans so desperate for a hero that they embrace one who is almost as likely to be indicted for perjury as inducted into the Hall of Fame. The rest of the country seems to have tired of the pursuit, if the low TV ratings for Saturday night's game were any indication. Still, Bonds draws fans to the ballpark even while the aging Giants occupy last place in the NL West.
Players, too, are sticking with him.
Alex Rodriguez called to congratulate Bonds on his feat, after Bonds called earlier in the day to pay his respects when A-Rod became the youngest player to reach 500 home runs. And unlucky pitcher Clay Hensley, a steroid user himself a few years back, shook Bonds' hand after the game and got an autographed bat, a souvenir to take with him when the Padres unceremoniously sent him to the minor leagues a few hours after he gave up the home run.
It's clear, though, that Selig has no use for Bonds, despite grudgingly watching him tie the record of a man whom he considers a good friend. Selig stood with his hands in his pockets, his face betraying no expression, when Bonds hit No. 755. Afterward, Selig issued a statement of congratulations that included a line that all men are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Selig has his faults, and he could use a better speechwriter. But give him credit for trying to put the record into perspective, tacitly acknowledging he doesn't consider it to be legitimate.
Although Bowie Kuhn didn't show up to watch Aaron break Babe Ruth's record 33 years ago after being there for the tie in Cincinnati, the times and the circumstances are vastly different. Kuhn made a dumb decision; Selig's moves show he has been thinking long and hard about trying to do the right thing.
Selig doesn't need to issue any more statements.
By not being here, he's already spoken volumes.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org