It's a relief that Barry Bonds has finally hit home run No. 756 to become baseball's career leader.
Now most of baseball can return to doing what it really wanted to do all along -- ignore Bonds until he hits the news wires again, most likely with his retirement or implication in a steriod scandal.
Even baseball sycophants couldn't save this moment in the sport's history.
Baseball's most significant record is as tainted as rancid tuna. Bonds may have the numbers to signify he's the best home run hitter, but he'll never be accepted as such. Many fans are already cheering for Alex Rodriguez -- hardly Mr. Popular in his own right -- to break the record.
If he stays healthy, he's still five or six years away. But at 32 and already with 500 home runs, he's the player with the best chance of making Bonds an afterthought.
What was supposed to be a glorious moment in baseball became one of its most ignominious. Baseball tried very hard for the sake of the game to accept Bonds' achievement. It lined up all the significant players in this drama to participate in the event.
But instead of adding to what was supposed to be a celebration, it emphasized how Bonds has divided the game. The congratulations were predictable and stilted.
Commissioner Bud Selig wasn't at the game. He was present when Bonds tied Hank Aaron's record of 755. Selig's expression said it all. It looked like he was wearing shoes that were two sizes too small.
"I congratulate Barry Bonds for establishing a new, career home run record," Selig said in a statement. "While the issues which have swirled around this record will continue to work themselves toward resolution, today is a day for congratulations on a truly remarkable achievement."
Aaron has consistently said he had no interest in being present to see Bonds break the record. A video congratulation was played: "Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement. . . "My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."
Steroid-free no doubt.
Bonds said he was touched by Aaron's message.
I guess you can convince yourself of anything if you say it long enough -- like "I never knowingly took steroids." Bonds may be able to convince himself that Aaron's message was really for him and not a superficial cover to make this look a little better.
There was great celebration in San Francisco when Bonds broke the record. What else have they got? The team owners have opted for the full houses Bonds brings rather than fielding a quality team.
The cloud over Bonds' head isn't restricted to him. It will permeate all sports, all great achievements. Sports fans have become jaded. They recognize drug testing is not infallible, that the development of another drug that can beat the system is a test tube away.
No matter what his faults and what he's pumped into his system, Bonds is a remarkable baseball player. His home run numbers are a testament to his talent. Putting bat to ball is not an easy chore. But his records will never be completely accepted.