One of the great joys of watching my 4 1/2-year-old son grow up is to see how he reacts when he’s exposed to some of the same things I experienced as a kid. As such, the complete Brady Bunch collection often is missing from my DVD shelf. My son loves it, and gets it, so several hours a week, my wife and I are subjected to, “Here’s the story …”
I bring this up, because of recent comments made by Hank Aaron that are beginning to reveal clues as to how the baseball world will react if Barry Bonds moves past The Hammer on baseball’s all-time home-run list. In one of the classic early Brady episodes, Peter saves a little girl in a toy store. The ensuing commotion causes Peter to get a big head (no pun intended), and he throws himself a party in which nobody shows up.
Which is exactly what may happen on the night when Bonds gets No. 756. Not that there’s any guarantee that’ll happen, as Bonds himself hinted last night. He’s ahead of last season’s pace, but he’s not hitting home runs so regularly that Aaron’s mark is any immediate danger.
Anyway, Aaron said on ESPN’s “Cold Pizza” last week that he won’t attend the record-breaker, and he re-iterated those comments to Terrence Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Now, I suppose one could argue that Aaron should take the high road and do for Bonds what commissioner Bowie Kuhn did not do for Aaron in 1974. Kuhn didn’t attend Aaron’s 715th home run in Atlanta, because of what he called a previous engagement. The chase left Aaron tired and, some have said, bitter, because of the hate he had to endure along the way, and Kuhn’s absence was just one more slap in his face.
I’m not going to be that one, however. I like Aaron’s stance. Bonds has never lowered himself to care about what the media or the fans think of him, and as far as I’m concerned on that issue, more power to him. But he does care, deeply, about how the greats of the game view him, and Aaron’s absence implies a message _ intentional or not _ that Aaron does not approve of Bonds, or the methods Bonds may have used to aid his cause. Bonds says he doesn’t care, and he’s just arrogant enough to mean it. But make not mistake, not having Aaron there takes away from Bonds’ achievement, and no jury of reasonable men and women would argue differently.
It would be, in other words, a bit like putting up party streamers and dressing up in your best suit, only to find out nobody really wants to be around you in the first place.