Barry
Bonds hit a home run on Wednesday, the 711th of his career. The San
Francisco Giants slugger only has to clear the fence with four more hits to
pass Babe Ruth’s career total (714) for homers, which will put him in
second place on the all-time list.

Normally,
this would be a moment for major league baseball to party hard and wonder in
wide-eyed amazement whether this modern-day marvel is good enough to reach Hank
Aaron’s record of 755 home runs.

Of
course, it’s panning out a little differently, thanks to the book Game of Shadows, which has alleged – about
as strongly as it is possible to allege without carving something in blood – that
Bonds has been a massive steroid user during stages of his charge up the
big-hitters’ record list.

As a
result, baseball officials are breaking land speed records running backwards
from the looming Bonds-Ruth moment.

“Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record,” Commissioner Bud
Selig is reported in USA Today as saying : “We don’t celebrate anybody the second or third time in… We
celebrate records, that’s what we do. We’re being consistent. There’s nothing to read into that.”

Of course there isn’t. The fact that
a Grand Jury is being organised to look into whether Bonds committed perjury
when he told a previous Grand Jury that he’d never knowingly touched
performance-enhancing drugs is neither here nor there, as far as the MLB commissioners are concerned, we’re sure.

Baseball is holding its own little
tea-party investigation into the Bonds affair. Perhaps he should brace himself
for a $20 fine or something equivalent.

Meanwhile, another AP report says it
is believed a key figure in the BALCO drug case has agreed to a plea deal on
one charge, if other charges are dropped.

While the report is unconfirmed, if
he does plead guilty, sports nutritional supplement scientist Patrick Arnold
will become the fourth person to plea, after BALCO founder Victor Conte, Bonds’s
trainer Greg Anderson, BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi
Korchemny.

Peter Fray

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