Sunday, August 05, 2007

Barry Bonds hits 755th Career Homer to tie Henry Aaron. A-Rod hits 500th Career Homer.

Barry Bonds hit his 755th career home run yesterday to tie Henry Aaron's all-time major league record. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

SAN DIEGO - With a short swing, a half stare and an emphatic clap of his hands, Barry Bonds rounded the bases. After so many days and so many tries, he had finally caught Hammerin' Hank.

High above the field in a private box, baseball commissioner Bud Selig was a reluctant witness to history. Choosing to overlook the steroid allegations that have dogged the San Francisco slugger, Selig watched Bonds tie Hank Aaron's home run record — his mouth agape, hands stuffed in pockets and nary a cheer on his lips.

No. 755 was a strong shot for all the doubters, an opposite-field drive of 382 feet to left-center, moving Bonds within one swing of having baseball's pinnacle of power all to himself. It came on a 2-1, 91 mph fastball Saturday night.

"This is the hardest thing I've had to do in my entire career," he said. "I had rashes on my head, I felt like I was getting sick at times." And it was a long time coming.

It had been eight days and 28 plate appearances since Bonds hit his 754th home run, and he came out for early batting practice Saturday, hoping to break his slump. He did it quickly, leading off the second inning.

"No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable," Selig said in a statement. Selig said either he or a representative would attend the Giants' next few games "out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty."

Bonds said he hadn't spoken to Selig, but welcomed him anytime. Aaron was not in attendance. The Hall of Famer had previously said he would not follow the chase in person. "It's a little bit different than any other milestone I've ever gone through," Bonds said. "It's Hank Aaron. I can't explain the feeling of it, it's just Hank Aaron."

Bonds drew a mixed reaction from the crowd at Petco Park after he homered off Clay Hensley. Several fans held up asterisk signs and the San Francisco slugger was booed as he headed to left field at the end of the inning. Bonds walked his next three times up and left the game in the eighth for a pinch-runner. He raised his helmet with his left hand, then his right, and drew a standing ovation from many fans who chanted his name.

"I want to thank the fans. They have been outstanding," Bonds said. "It's been a fun ride. I really appreciate the way San Diego handled it and the way their fans handled it." The Padres won 3-2 in 12 innings.

Bonds said he would not start Sunday, which would give him a chance to break the record at home beginning Monday night.

As if Bonds tying Aaron wasn't enough, Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th career homer yesterday to become the youngest player to reach the milestone. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Alex Rodriguez leaned to his right and watched the ball as it sailed toward the foul pole in left. When it stayed true, he raised his hands in the air — the long wait for No. 500 was finally over.

Rodriguez became the youngest player in major league history to hit 500 home runs, connecting on the first pitch he saw Saturday to end a 10-day wait.

The 32-year-old Rodriguez stood at home plate for a second after his first-inning drive off Kyle Davies, waiting to see where it would land. "I haven't hit one in so long I didn't know if it was going to be foul," he said. "Where that ball started, last week that ball would've hooked foul probably about 20 feet."

A-Rod spoke with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and commissioner Bud Selig after the game. Selig was in San Diego and watched Barry Bonds tie Hank Aaron's career home run record with a second-inning shot off Padres starter Clay Hensley.

Rodriguez homered eight days after his birthday and surpassed Jimmie Foxx (32 years, 338 days) as the youngest player to reach 500. A-Rod is the 22nd player to reach the mark, the second this season behind Frank Thomas — Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome might get there this year, too.

Analysis: I'm not going to touch the steroid issue. At 6-foot-6 and 170 pounds I know as much about body-building as George W. Bush knows about diplomacy. All I know is that Ted Williams said that the most difficult thing to do in sports was to hit a baseball. He was right, and Barry and A-Rod are two of the best at this and should be proud of their accomplishments (provided that they were achieved honestly, for which we must await proof).

Bonds haters will simply have to wait until late 2014 or early 2015 for A-Rod to pass him (but then what do we do about the A-Rod haters?). Let's do some projecting: Give A-Rod 15 more homers by the end of this season. 515. To get to 800, which is a real possibility, he needs 285, or 40.7 a year for the next seven seasons. Barring injury, or a sharp decline in production, that would make him the all-time home run king at age 39 or 40.

To sum up, I offer my humble congratulations to these men. The Bonds watch continues.

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