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Selig merits long chase with Bonds

Poor Bud Selig. Contrary to published reports, the baseball commissioner says he has not decided whether he plans to be in attendance when Barry Bonds finally breaks Hank Aaron's record of 755 career home runs.

During a news conference at the All-Star Game in San Francisco, Selig told reporters that it was a "very personal" and "very sensitive" matter. He said he will make his decision at the appropriate time -- whatever that means.

Selig might be holding out hope that a grand jury will indict Bonds on charges stemming from the BALCO steroids case, although there seems to be little chance of that happening soon. But by stalling, Selig lets everyone know he doesn't cherish the idea of celebrating the feats of Bonds, a suspected steroid user and loathsome human being.

If Selig had any guts, he'd boycott Bonds as a protest against all the cheaters who padded their stats in the steroid era. It's not likely. Selig was in charge when baseball turned a blind eye when the public was slobbering over Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and other suspected juicers.

One day soon, I suspect, Selig will announce that he intends to follow Bonds' pursuit of Aaron and tell us, through clenched teeth, he is doing it "for the good of the game."

It'll be fitting if Selig jumps on board, because following around a creep like Bonds is just what the commissioner deserves. He might decide it's the best thing for the game, but he might have second thoughts along the way. I'm not sure Selig knows what he's getting into.

First of all, what is the "appropriate time" to start following Bonds? Should he show up after Bonds, who has 751 homers, reaches 754 to pull within one of Aaron's record? What if Bonds hits two homers in a game to pass Aaron and Selig isn't there? Bonds hasn't had a multi-homer game since April 13, but he's certainly capable. What if he hits three homers in one game?

All I know is Selig better not pack light for this trip. Chances are, he'll need more than a carry-on bag. The commissioner could set a record for hotel points before the chase is through.

In May, Bonds went 14 games without a homer. He hit one in 27 games. Imagine if he goes into a similar funk with Selig on tour. It could take a month or more. During the All-Star break, Bonds joked that he might not break the record until next season. Funny dude, that Barry. I'm sure Selig was amused.

There will be nights when the commissioner wishes he had taken Aaron's lead and blown Bonds off altogether.

Bonds has sat out eight games this season. Three times, he pinch-hit and walked. He has walked at least twice in 28 games. There's no reason to think Giants manager Bruce Bochy won't continue to give Bonds his weekly game off. It could be excruciating, like waiting for Paris Hilton to follow through on her pledge to become a humanitarian.

Opposing pitchers don't give Bonds many good pitches to hit. That doesn't figure to change, either. In fact, pitchers might be even less inclined to throw him a strike. Why would any pitcher want to be connected to this tainted record? Don't believe the pap being spewed by many of the game's stars. Bonds isn't a very popular figure with his peers.

Can you imagine what Selig will look like if it drags on for a month? Will he start showing up with stubble on his chin and coffee stains on his tie? He'll have to give interviews every night. He'll hear the boos when the Giants are on the road. He'll have to pretend he doesn't see all the anti-Bonds signs in the crowd.

At least, Selig will be genuinely excited when Bonds breaks the record. He'll have the weary, grateful expression of a man who has been let out of prison.

e-mail:jsullivan@buffnews.com

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