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Rare Air, But Still Unloved

Barry Bonds is about to tie, then pass Babe Ruth's home run total of 714, and
a moment of truth in sports will come to pass: almost no one will care,
and an unusual level of hostility may ensue.

There was a time when race alone brought about that reaction. If you've
ever seen the film of Hank Aaron running the bases when he broke the record, you
may remember his mother running out to embrace him.

It wasn't because she was overjoyed: Aaron had received death threats, and
she was trying to put herself between her boy and an assassin.

Bonds is an intelligent man and he is aware of history. If he's not,
his father, who had a long career which overlapped with Aaron's could tell him.

But that time is largely past, and while Bonds may expect a certain level of
acclaim, he probably won't get it, and it's not just because of the nasty
steroid allegations which have dogged him.

It's because despite his huge talent, he has treated the media, teammates,
and fans with contempt. It's easy to find people who are awestruck by his
talent, but it's hard to remember anyone praising him for being a decent person
or anything like that.

Bonds in many ways symbolizes how far baseball has drifted from the fans who
sustain it.

Or used to, anyway.

The media, being dutiful, will cover it. The fans may have a coarser
reaction, particularly if he passes Ruth on the road. And he probably still
won't get it. But he's never given the slightest impression that he cares
about anyone else in the ballpark,or anyone outside his family, so when it comes
back to him, he certainly shouldn't be surprised.