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Let Hank be

Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, some say, should be in the stands when Barry Bonds eclipses his career home run record of 755.

Those who argue the point say his absence would be a display of poor sportsmanship.

Aaron says he won’t be there.



Why would he want be there? To subject himself to a bombardment of redundant questions from media, most of which will be attempts to bait him into vilifying Bonds?

The man is retired. Has been for a long time. He has every right to take in the historic moment from the comfort of his own couch ” or not tune in at all, for that matter.



His choice to not follow Bonds and the Giants ” and the surrounding circus ” around the country as the record nears does not make him a poor sportsman.

What if Bonds were to go another 15 games between home runs, like his last homer-less stretch?

Aaron, at age 73, is no spring chicken. Surely he doesn’t want to spend his days on the road traveling from ballpark to ballpark.

Maybe Bonds crushes No. 755 and 756 during the first game Aaron attends.

Still, it’s a lose-lose for Aaron.

What’s he supposed to say when asked the inevitable? About steroids and its golden era. About Bonds and whether he cheated his way to the milestone ” all with cameras and recorders inches from his lips.

He’ll be force fed every opportunity to slip up, to take a cheap shot at Bonds, to accuse him of the unproven (yet likely).

If he spills his true opinion ” whatever that may be ” he’s sure to be chastised by the millions of Americans who disagree. Same goes if he ducks or hedges on the questions. Or, of course, if he steers clear altogether.

It’s a no-win situation all the way around for Aaron. And he has a better chance of retaining his class-act image if he dodges the spectacle.

After all, he doesn’t owe anybody anything ” not Bonds, not the media, not commissioner Bud Selig.

The media circus is soon to reach a crescendo as Bonds continues to chip away at 755.

If Aaron catches a glimpse of the hullabaloo ” how could he not? ” he will be pleased he’s not in the middle of it, getting grilled.

So chill out Hammerin’ Hank. After 755 home runs, you deserve it.

Sylas Wright is the sports editor at the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at swright@sierrasun.com.


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