Bonds' home run pursuit safe

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Barry Bonds soon will be second on baseball's career home run list.

And eventually, he'll pass Hank Aaron to become baseball's home run king.

And he is going to enjoy it about as much as Richard Milhous Nixon enjoyed his second term as president of the United States.

Accusations of steroid use.

Death threats.

The sale of T-shirts reading: "Save Baseball, Don't Pitch to Bonds!"

Boos in every stadium, except the one in San Francisco.

And now, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell will head an investigation looking into the steroid allegations.

With 708 career homers, Bonds needs seven to pass Ruth and 48 to eclipse Aaron.

Whatever the investigators find, they won't be taking away any homers from Bonds, and they won't be impeaching.

Say the committee takes away a game-winning homer Bonds hit against a contender. What a box of rattlesnakes that would open. Yep, that would go over real well.

Like back in 2003, when he hit three homers and knocked in six runs against the St. Louis Cardinals, an NL Central near-miss behind the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros.

Removing Bonds' homers equals a win for a pennant contender and equals a loss for the Giants, a team that went on to reach the post-season.

The committee will give us the revamped 2003 standings and then we can start the post-season all over.

Baseball officials can read all the books they want to read and examine all the website polls that are out there, but only two things scare commissioner Bud Selig.

One is the U.S. Congress, which forced him to change his original touch-you-last type suspension to a three- strikes-and-out case.

The other fear factor is revenue.

Because of the steroid allegations, Bank of America Corp., one of Major League Baseball's national sponsors, will not be part of any advertising campaign celebrating a career home run record by Bonds.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank, signed a five-year sponsorship agreement with baseball in 2004 after sponsoring several individual teams.

Documented evidence in Game of Shadows claims Bonds became a heavy steroid user before the 1999 season.

What followed were home runs ... and injuries.

Entering the 1999 season, Bonds never had missed more than 22 games in a season, averaging 147 a year in the previous seven years. His average would have been higher if not for the 1994-95 strike.

He would play only 102 games that year because of elbow, wrist and knee injuries. He has battled knee ailments in recent years, playing only 14 games after three surgeries last year.

In the seven years before Bonds is believed to have begun using steroids -- a charge he denies -- he batted .306 with 269 home runs and 763 RBIs (38 homers and 109 RBIs a year). He played 1,028 games.

Had he kept a similar pace, he would enter this season with 2,992 hits, 680 home runs and 1,979 RBIs after 2,936 games.

Instead, he is at 2,742 hits, 708 homers and 1,853 RBIs after 2,742 games. So he has played fewer games, hit 28 more homers, driven in 126 fewer RBIs and had dozens more headaches.

So, his final numbers will be inflated ... a bit.

Actually, factor in a slight drop because those averages were diminished by the 68 games lost in the two-season strike.

Bonds is the best player we've ever seen.

Mike Gimbel, in The Workers World, makes some excellent points as he writes:

"Bonds is being condemned in a witch-hunt atmosphere ... How is that different from what the media did in the run-up to the Iraq invasion? Where are the WMDs?

"Bonds has passed every single urine test. Bonds has never been convicted of a single infraction, yet he is being convicted without a trial by the big business media in what can only be termed a lynch mob atmosphere."

Should Bonds be suspended?

Should his records be erased?

No, because what he did was not against MLB rules at the time.

MLB has been testing for three years now, and Bonds has yet to turn up positive.

As John Wayne might have said: "What's done is done."


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