- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2007

San Diego Padres fans should have booed Barry Bonds on Saturday night when he hit his 755th home run.

But they shouldn’t have booed him because he tied Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.

They shouldn’t have booed him because he might be a bad guy.

And they shouldn’t have necessarily booed him because of the steroid suspicions around him.

Padres fans should have booed him because he plays for the opposing team, a division rival.

They should have booed him because the Padres are in a pennant race, and any home run, especially in a one-run game, is a direct threat to their team’s playoff chances.

They should have booed him because Bonds slugs .683 with 87 homers in 861 career at-bats against the Padres. That’s 23 more homers than against any other team.

Booing, in this instance, is just good baseball.

Instead, many of the fans at Petco Park stood and cheered when Bonds hit his home run. They took pictures with their blinding cameras and cell phones.

Call someone who cares and turn your ringer off.

They celebrated an opposing player’s personal achievement over the pursuit of their team.

Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player to reach 500 home runs on Saturday. Tom Glavine won his 300th game last night, and Bonds will break Aaron’s home run record.

These are nice stories, but they shouldn’t be overhyped national events.

Of course, Bonds‘ home run chase comes with extras. He is chasing maybe the last hallowed baseball record amid steroid suspicions and under the watch of a commissioner who is trying not to watch. As for Aaron, he remains a conscientious objector.

But ESPN, Pedro Gomez, Erin Andrews and some Padres fans may be interested to know there is a pennant race going on in the National League West.

The Padres are 1½ games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Los Angeles Dodgers are four games back, and the Colorado Rockies are 5½ back.

The only NL West team not in the race: the San Francisco Giants and Barry Bonds.

There are also compelling races in the NL Central, AL Central and AL West. The turnaround of the New York Yankees — 19-7 since the All-Star break and in the wild-card race — might be the best story of the year.

Or maybe it’s the Milwaukee Brewers, who are in first in the NL Central thanks to the emerging talents of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun.

Or maybe it’s Bonds, and his long, long walk toward history.

While he holds ESPN and its sister networks hostage, there is a pretty good baseball season going on.

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