- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Barry Bonds needs five home runs to break Hank Aaron’s career record and, his current slump notwithstanding, it seems certain he will do it this season. The bigger question is where he will do it.

Will it be home at the San Francisco Giants‘ AT&T; Park, where Bonds for the most part is revered and adored?

Or will it happen on the road, where Bonds unceasingly is subjected to boos, demonstrations and various forms of artwork that decry his reported involvement with steroids?

Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed the club’s preference — if not burning desire — that Bonds hit the record blast at home when he told reporters before the All-Star Game, “I know how important it would be for our fans [because of] what he’s done for this organization and for the fans. That’s why the perfect scenario is Barry hits it here.”

But it’s hard to create that perfect scenario, as Bochy added.

“He could be within one and we hit a road trip. What do you do then? Obviously I’ll try to do what’s right for the ballclub and the organization.”

Good luck with that. Although there are fans in every city who like Bonds and will cheer as loudly as any San Franciscan when he breaks the most hallowed record in sports, the road would be a nasty place for this to happen. Imagine: No. 756 soars majestically over the fence, and immediately a deep, sullen, threatening wall of sound rumbles and cascades from the seats, negative energy permeating every inch of the ballpark. Cameras catch banners that display heartwarming sentiment like “Call Hank Aaron and Say You’re Sorry!” as one sign read in Boston.

What a moment.

Fans are flocking to catch the traveling Bonds road show and to show their displeasure in various forms. Some teams have taken to censoring negative signs, but that fails to stem the overall tide. Whether the protests have been organized — blindfolds handed out in New York, asterisk signs in Boston — or individual, the message is always the same.

“He shouldn’t break the record. He’s a cheater,” said Mike McNicholas, who drove up from Wilmington, Del., to Philadelphia to watch Bonds play against the Phillies in June. “I think it’s unfair. He brings a bad name to baseball.”

McNicholas, 25, was sitting with his friend, Chris Pierce, 30, of Aston, Pa., in the outfield seats at Citizens Bank Park, not far from Bonds‘ station in left field. They waved a yellow cardboard sign that McNicholas made the night before. It depicted a player swinging a bat, except that the bat was a syringe. (In some parks, people have come dressed as syringes. It’s the favored piece of imagery.)

“I didn’t think we were going to get this in,” McNicholas said of the sign. “But [the guard] looked at it and laughed and said, ‘Good sign.’ ”

The booing and taunting were constant from the moment Bonds trotted to his position in the bottom of the inning to when he trotted off. It’s the same when he hits — on-deck circle to batter’s box to base path or dugout — the same path accompanied by the same soundtrack.

“Cheater! Cheater!” a fan in left field in Philadelphia cried.

“Natural, baby! Natural!” a guy covered in tattoos yelled, flexing his left biceps and pointing to it.

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