- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 2, 2007

Normally, it would seem a bit much for a columnist to bash a subject twice within a month — sort of the journalistic equivalent of piling on. But you’ll have to pardon this particular ounce of overkill because the subject in question is Barry Lamar Bonds, baseball’s venal version of Attila the Hun.

It isn’t enough for Barry Baby to insult the sport and its fans with his generally selfish, oafish and boorish behavior as he struts inexorably toward Hank Aaron’s record of 755 home runs. Now he also has given the back of his presumable steroidal hand to the Hall of Fame by suggesting he might withhold various and sundry items of personal memorabilia from Cooperstown’s hallowed halls.

You have to give Barry credit for candor, though. In a recent interview on the subject, he proclaimed, “I’m not worried about the Hall. I take care of me.”

No kidding?

Wow, what a surprise!

Unless the rampaging suspicions that surround Barry about the use of illegal substances are somehow dispelled in coming years, this guy has about as much chance of making the Hall of Fame as, say, ex-Oriole Kiko Garcia (lifetime stats: .239 batting average, 12 homers).

Good riddance, I say. With Barry’s attitude, he shouldn’t even be allowed to buy a ticket into the Valhalla of rounders.

As he sits on 746 dingers, Barry already is represented in Cooperstown by about a dozen items, including a bat from his rookie season (1986) and cleats for becoming the first career 400-homers/400-steals man (1998).

Toss it all out, I say. Better yet, send it back to Barry, c/o San Francisco Giants, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, Calif., 94107 — collect.

Ah, yes, Willie Mays, the greatest Giant of them all and Barry’s godfather. You have to wonder what the erstwhile Say Hey Kid thinks about Barry’s all-for-one perspective on the shrine and the game Willie has enhanced for better than five decades now.

Then again, this is the “me-first” generation for too many athletes with lesser skills and smaller egos than Barry’s, so maybe we shouldn’t be too shocked.

Here’s the perfect ultimate scenario, as far as I’m concerned. Sometime in July or August when Barry has 754 homers, he suffers a career-ending injury to perhaps a hamstring or an ingrown toenail. Probably that’s not going to happen, but this would be one mishap we all should applaud.

Before anyone pulls out the race card, let me say I consider Hank Aaron one of baseball’s finest men as well as one of its finest players, so much so that I used to think he’d be an ideal commissioner before Bud Selig somehow crept off with that formerly august office.

And how does Hammerin’ Henry feel about Bonds? He made that pretty obvious last week when he said he will be notably absent when Barry hits No. 756.

This is how Aaron put it in an interview with the Associated Press: “I traveled for 23 years, and I just get tired of traveling. I’m not going to fly somewhere to go see somebody hit a home run, whether it’s Barry or Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig. … I’m not going anyplace.”

Might he change his mind as the dastardly deed draws closer?

“I will never reconsider my decision.”

Since Ruth and Gehrig no longer stride this mortal coil, we may assume Henry’s comments were solely for Bonds’ benefit. And when Aaron added, “I wish him all the luck in the world,” perhaps that can be written off as sheer sarcasm.

Given the flimsy nature of Aaron’s excuse, he clearly has no desire to watch a surly cheater surpass the record it took him 20-plus seasons to establish. We should endorse his promised absenteeism and hope other baseball leaders do the same.

But even if that happens, this could be a very difficult summer indeed for those of us who cherish the game’s history, tradition and integrity.

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