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Archive for Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Commentary: Maybe now Bonds will leave us alone

With 715 out of the way, baseball fans finally can start focusing on an intriguing 2006 season

May 30, 2006

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Our long national nightmare is over.

Finally, we have a reason to thank Barry Bonds.

With one swing of the bat Sunday on a 90 mph fastball from Byung-Hyun Kim, Bonds accomplished much more than just passing Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list.

He made the fans in San Francisco as happy as they can be during a year when they are constantly reminded about the earthquake that destroyed the city a century ago. He allowed baseball to escape yet another embarrassing moment from its Incredible Hulk era by hitting it on the final game of a homestand.

And he gave everyone who has wasted hours in line waiting for a beer at the ballpark a reason to keep going back.

Hard to tell who was happier with No. 715 - Bonds or the guy who went to get a couple of beers during his historic at-bat and wound up with not only a pricey baseball but a potential future TV commercial if the folks at Budweiser or Coors are on the, er, ball.

Not a bad day all around. But the best is yet to come.

Because now America doesn't have to waste a Memorial Day better suited to other things worrying, or even thinking, about Barry Bonds. Now baseball fans can get on with what figures to be an intriguing season without wondering what really makes the players go.

And maybe now, Bonds will finally leave us alone.

Yeah, that's right. Leave us alone.

You see, we're as tired of him as he is of us. Tired of comparing him to the Babe, tired of trying to figure out how many home runs he might have hit without any help.

Tired of just about everything that has to do with a moment that even Major League Baseball can't bring itself to celebrate.

Then again, it's hard to celebrate a man at the same time you're investigating him for allegedly using steroids.

Maybe Bud Selig will send a note or something.

"Any time you have an accomplishment, they normally congratulate you and send you a telegram or letter," Bonds said.

Bonds lost most of America long ago. His boorish behavior and indifference to fans alienated many even before he became the poster child for the BALCO steroid investigation.

He makes $20 million a year, but has no real endorsements because he is such a polarizing figure. A recent poll showed two-thirds of baseball fans have either unfavorable or mixed views about him, and he was ranked almost at the bottom by fans in a survey of how trustworthy and admirable they found 1,500 different athletes and celebrities.

Hitting No. 715 isn't going to change that. The crowds in San Francisco still cheer, but when Bonds goes on the road this week he's not going to find fans eager to celebrate the milestone with him in New York.

Bonds will again be cast in the role of villain, but it's become a worn act. After nearly four weeks of waiting for Bonds to pass the Babe, America is just as weary of watching.

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