Bonds did smack five homers in 42 at bats in a cameo return in September, increasing his career total to 708, seven short of surpassing Ruth as the most prolific lefthanded power hitter ever.
Bonds, 41, vowed to play next season with a slimmer physique to reduce the wear on his body. His first test drive will be as a DH in the World Baseball Classic in March. Given his age and surgical history, the condition of his knees appears to be the only thing keeping the Giants' leftfielder from slugging his 756th homer and overtaking Hank Aaron's alltime record by June 2007.
Major League Baseball will be conflicted about how to celebrate Bonds's eclipsing Ruth. Scores of security agents will patrol the outfield seats to verify possession of the 715 ball. Should it occur on the road, pockets of fans will boo. Whatever ceremony is staged will be muted because of Bonds's connection with BALCO. The occasion will take place without the commissioner of baseball, who will claim no obligation to be on hand for a player securing second place on an alltime list. The top spot will be a different story, forcing Bud Selig to attend, where he will applaud politely.
Send his butt to first. Don't even think about pitching to him. I don't care if no one's on base. Let's not have him beat us in the first inning. I'd rather have him on first with the bases loaded than those guys out there in the water fighting over a ball.
And so it goes with Barry ...
In turn, the hostility between Barry and the media is real - as real as his feared black bat, as real as his rock-hard body, as real as his focus to do his job without regard to what anyone says about him.
Bonds' Godfather Willie Mays says, "He thinks no one likes him." Mays and Barry are total opposites. During his career, Mays was an engaging personality, but he could be mean as the devil to reporters he didn't like, and those he didn't trust. In that respect, he shares a common bond with his godson, who in July will turn 40 years of age.
This season, Barry is sitting on 10 homeruns, 28 runs scored, 27 hits, 22 RBI and an .818 slugging percentage - tops in all of baseball. In 33 games, he's had 77 batting attempts, 56 of them walks. Absolutely every manager in baseball has taken the bat out of his hand. He's a patient one at the plate, so he's not going fishing.
Let's go back to the Mark McGwire year of 1998 when Mark hit a MLB record-busting 70 homeruns. If you dissect that season you will discover a raw number of pitchers who threw batting practice pitches to Mark as he surged towards the record. It was like, here comes a fast one down the middle. It was almost the same with Sammy Sosa, one of baseball's most popular players.
No such thing for Bonds, however. Hardly anyone wants to see him past Babe. And another thing, virtually every time there is talk of Barry and the record, it's always, "Will he pass Ruth" The hell with Ruth; Bonds is chasing Aaron. The Babe is only in the way. In one game earlier this season, Barry drew four intentional walks to first base.
He's without question the greatest player of his time, and arguably the greatest player of all time. A six-time MVP, no one