Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Aaron's Plan To Be AWOL A Huge Blow To Bonds

About 25 years ago or so, he made a subtle lobbying effort to be considered a candidate for commissioner of baseball. This after a much-publicized complaint that he was one of the few blacks employed as a baseball executive. And that after enduring what no hard-working American should have to at the workplace, in the midst of his pursuit of baseball's all-time homerun record.

Now Henry Aaron is again showing us the resolve and, frankly, brass baseballs that make him one of the most underrated icons that this country has ever seen -- at least since World War II.

Aaron publicly admitted that he plans to be nowhere in sight when Barry Bonds has a chance to break his all-time HR record of 755, which could very well happen this summer. Bonds is 22 away.

"I'd probably fly to West Palm Beach to play golf," Aaron was quoted as saying in Terence Moore's column the other day in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Again, it has nothing to do with anybody, other than I had enough of it. I don't want to be around that sort of thing anymore. I just want to be at peace with myself."

Certainly Bonds's run is re-opening old wounds for Aaron, who went through his own personal hell as he chased Babe Ruth's 714 back in 1973-74. But that was the result of the disgusting, lowest form of citizenry -- the racist boobs who would resort to even death threats and kidnapping his daughter if he went through with his assault.

This time, the backlash has nothing to do with Bonds's skin color and everything to do with the magic creams and elixirs and pills that he probably applied and inserted into his body over the years, turning him from baseball's version of Bill Bixby to Lou Ferrigno. It's a record-breaking that even today's mealy commissioner, Bud Selig, seems completely unable to handle or address.

Not so with Aaron.

"I don't want to answer questions. It's going to be a no-win situation for me anyway. If I go, people are going to say, 'Well, he went because of this.' If I don't go, they'll say whatever. I'll just let them make their own mind up."

And this: "I'm 72 years old, and I'm not hopping on a plane and flying all the way to San Francisco for anybody."

Aaron doesn't want to see Bonds repeat this moment from 1974

So there you have it. The current homerun champ, 33 years into his reign, has spoken and there's no doubt where he stands. We can't come close to saying either about Selig.

I'm sorry, but this is huge. Baseball's HR record might be the sexiest, most alluring of all the sports records, bar none. And to hear the current champ say he wants no part of the celebration -- however muted -- and will even go to lengths to avoid it, speaks volumes.

For his part, Bonds took the high road in reaction to Aaron's comments.

"He has every right to do what he wants to do. I respect that," Bonds said. "There's no reason for me to be disappointed. If he has other plans, other things to do, I respect that. He's his own man. He can do what he wants to do. I respect that. No hard feelings."

But I would be shocked if those words weren't trying to mask a certain hurt that Bonds must feel over Aaron's stance. Whatever you feel about Barry Bonds, Aaron's refusal to be present when Bonds breaks his record is a tough blow for the Giants outfielder. It has to be.

Prior to this week, we were waiting to hear about Bonds's imminent ascent to the homerun throne from two key individuals: Aaron and Selig.

Predictably, the latter is the one who still remains silent.


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