Major League Baseball Commisioner Bud Selig was asked yesterday if he planned to be present in the stadium in which Barry Bonds is likely to break Hank Aaron's home run record. Aaron hit 755 homers. Bonds is closing in on that number.
Selig fielded the question like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales handles queries from Congressmen.
He didn't say yes and he didn't say no. But his ambivalence and the code words he uttered spoke volumes about how he feels about Bonds. Selig's a politician. Fly balls caught by the breeze, that drift to the left or right of the foul poles don't mean nearly as much to him as those other polls, the ones that indicate which way the political winds are blowing.
The conventional wisdom is this: When ( Not if ) Bonds breaks the record, the crowd will cheer. If he hits number 756 in San Francisco. If he hits the big one in any another city, he'll be booed and/or ignored. You might spot Selig warming a seat in that stadium in Frisco. But if Bonds is on the verge of breaking Hank's record in Atlanta, or New York, or Boston...
Don't look for Bud to be there. You're as likely to see Hillary Clinton at an Eminem concert.
Am I rooting for Bonds to break Aaron's record? Yes. And no. Why the Seligian answer? Maybe because I couldn't care less. What! you say. You're not outraged at his obvious cheating?
I am not outraged. Are you? If you are, let me ask you this:
Have you cheated lately? Do you know someone who has cheated, and said nothing?
Have you, for instance, driven at a speed a few miles per hour over the limit? Have you used a cell phone in the car as you're driving? Have you failed to report some income that came in " under the table? " Did you ask that pretty young secretary out for a drink? Then tell the wife that you had to work late because your boss imposed some kind of last minute deadline on your sorry ass. Do you play golf? Have you ever moved the ball from a lousy lie to a lie to die for?
You haven't done any of that? Good for you. Feel free to have an opinion about Barry Bonds.
George Will had a pretty good column in Newsweek last week. It was about Bonds' quest for the record. In his column he mentioned that baseball's a strange game. The very best hitters fail 70 percent of the times they step up to the plate. Hitting a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher just might be the most difficult thing an athlete's expected to do. Hitting the sphere over the fence? Seven hundred and fifty six freakin' times in a career that's not yet quite over?
I gotta tell ya. That is pretty fucking impressive. And I don't care if you have jumper cables wrapped around your arms and your legs. Those numbers impress me.
Has Bonds been cheating? Maybe. Have you? Maybe. Have I? Certainly.
Can you get through this life without cheating? That's the question I throw at ya now.
It's yours to hit, or not hit, outa the park.