Barry Bonds: All-Star Homeboy

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Barry Bonds deserved to be in the 2007 All-Star Game. Even before he was elected by fans on Sunday – overcoming a 120,000 vote deficit in the final days of balloting – I thought he deserved to be there.

That the game will be played on Bonds’ home turf in the Bay Area has a bit to do with it, as do the obvious gifts he has wielded for the game of baseball. I know, I know. I’m not naive. But as long as Bonds is eligible to play baseball – as long as the feds haven;t come knocking and commissioner Bud Selig hasn’t found a way to prevent him from breaking his BBF Hank Aaron’s home-run record – he should he afforded all the recognition available to him. Period.

The fans figured that out. If they had not, it seems clear that the players would have likely voted him in, or at least he would have been named to the team by NL coach Tony LaRusso.

The All-Star game is an exhibition, a mid-season, flag-waving hoe-down for what used to be America’s game. Arguments over who deserves to be there, based on stats and such, are pretty meaningless to me. The fans vote on who they want to see play; the players and coaching staffs pretty much fill in the gaps.

Bonds presence on the team will make him the focal point of the entire event. He’ll be asked questions at every turn, on every subject. Every subject. On Sunday he seemed genuinely touched to have been elected, saying he’ll remember the game “forever.” My hope is that he embraces the week and leaves the surly, anybody-got-any-baseball questions Barry for another day. Perhaps he’ll see the experience as an opportunity to display some humanity – and perhaps some humility – setting the stage for his inevitable record-breaking swing, which should come within days after the All-Star Game. Perhaps.

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