Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig really dropped the ball on this one.
If Bud Selig is really that torn up about whether or not he is going to be in attendance when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home run record, he should have had the league honor him the way they did Cal Ripken in his final All- Star Game.
Selig could have killed two birds with one stone with a gesture like that.
First off people in San Francisco would have eaten that up. You didn't have to be worry about Bonds getting booed on this night, that is for sure. From what I have seen these people have never even heard of BALCO. They absolutely love him and showered him with cheers in what is probably his final Midsummer Classic.
And secondly, people would probably get off his back about attending the milestone if he paid some sort of tribute to Bonds at the All-Star Game, in his own town, nonetheless. Nobody would have said a peep about it because it would have been a nice gesture. Obviously it wouldn't play in another town, like it did for Ripken, but this game was in Barry's backyard.
Ripken had already announced that 2001 would be his final season when the Midsummer Classic took place in Seattle. MLB rolled out the red carpet for him, pretty much making it "Cal Ripken's All-Star Game".
Why couldn't the league have done this for Bonds?
Bud Selig is torn up about whether or not he is going to be in attendance when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home run record.
Of course I know why. The whole steroid thing and all. But the fact of the matter is Barry Bonds has never tested positive for steroids and if he did use them they were not illegal at the time.
Say whatever you want about Bonds, he is the best player most of us will ever see. I believe he used steroids. But you know what? A ton of other guys used them too. I don't remember Chad Curtis breaking any records. Bonds is just head and shoulders more talented than anyone else. Remember he won three MVP awards before he allegedly ever took a steroid.
People like to go after him because he comes off like a creep. Plain and simple.
I have said it before and I will say it again. Bonds is the best player of my generation. Like everyone else I felt betrayed when the thought of steroids entered the picture. But you know what everyone was doing them, including some of the pitchers that were serving up those long balls.
If you talk to any of the players they love him. Every now and again some player will come out of the woodwork and say something about the accusations, but it is always some yahoo like Turk Wendell or someone like that.
I don't want to hear that Babe Ruth never needed steroids either. Ruth never played against blacks and never had to deal with the media scrutiny that Bonds has to go through.
Like I said before I believe Bonds took steroids. Again he is not the only one. He is not even the only Hall of Famer to cheat. Ever hear of Gaylord Perry? And guess what? There will be more players to cheat after Bonds is long gone and they won't have a fraction of the talent he does.
If you watched Bonds at all this week, he was genuinely having fun, something you can't say too often. This whole event should have been a tribute to him and Bud Selig absolutely dropped the ball.
FIRST HALF AWARDS
AL MVP - Magglio Ordonez, OF, Detroit - Alex Rodriguez's numbers are sick, but his team is 10 games out of first place. Ordonez has consistently been the best hitter in that Tigers' lineup all season and a big reason why they are in first place at the break.
AL CY YOUNG - Dan Haren, RHP, Oakland - Oakland just keeps popping out these unbelievable pitchers. With Barry Zito gone to San Francisco, Rich Harden was supposed to be the ace of the A's. Well he does what he does best and that is get hurt, but Oakland hasn't missed a beat with the All-Star Game starter Haren at the top of the rotation.
AL ROOKIE - Hideki Okajima, RP - I think most people felt there was going to be a Red Sox pitcher from Japan winning this award this season. However, everyone thought it was going to be Daisuke Matsuzaka. Dice-K has been alright, but Okajima has one-upped his countryman, going 2-0 with a sparkling 0.83 earned run average.
AL MANAGER - Jim Leyland, Detroit - Leyland was a runaway winner last season and he has done an even better job this season. Leyland has had to deal with injuries to Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney in the bullpen, while also going without Kenny Rogers for most of the first half. Despite all that, though, his team is a game in front of the Cleveland Indians for the top spot in the AL Central.
NL MVP - Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee - Fielder has been mashing this season and is a big reason why the Brewers are in first place. If he can keep it up in the second half, fans in Milwaukee will be watching playoff baseball for the first time since winning the AL Pennant in 1982.
NL CY YOUNG - Jake Peavy, RHP, San Diego - People have been waiting for Peavy to put up a Cy Young Award season and this may be it. Most people thought last year he would dominate, but injuries derailed his season. This year he is fully healthy and could win 20 games.
NL ROOKIE - Hunter Pence, CF, Houston - Pence didn't start the season with the Astros, but I am pretty sure a return trip to Triple-A is not in the cards for him. Pence has put up great numbers, hitting .342 with 11 homers, 42 RBI and 39 runs scored. He is one of the only reasons to watch the Astros at this point and will be one of the few that will not be on the market in the coming weeks.
NL MANAGER - Ned Yost, Milwaukee - This has been a long time coming. Yost has been there since 2002 and has yet to go above .500. This year that should change. The Brewers were a trendy pick this season to win the NL Central and Yost's club has lived up to those expectations.
FIVE BOLD SECOND HALF PRECICTIONS
1) Bonds will be dealt at some point - Of course the Giants are not going to deal him before he breaks the record. They have too much invested there. But he will get moved and to a contender down the stretch. He loves California. How about the Basher hitting in front of Vladimir Guerrero?
2) The Cubs will win the NL Central - Milwaukee's lead in the NL Central is the shakiest in my opinion of all the division leaders. Yost's crew struggled heading into the break and the Cubbies are right on their tails, 4 1/2 games back. I know these are the Cubs and they live for disappointing their fans, but Carlos Zambrano is poised for a huge second half, as is Alfonso Soriano. Lou Piniella gets the Northsiders into the postseason in his first year.
3) The Yankees will make the playoffs - I refuse to believe they are dead. I'd have to see the body first on that. There is just too much talent for the Yankees not to make the postseason. Take a look at their schedule in the second half. It is littered with teams under .500. Mark it down, postseason baseball will live on in the Bronx.
4) Another manager will get fired - This is an easy one. We have already had two firings and their will no doubt be another. It could be Jim Tracy in Pittsburgh. I loved that team going into the season, like I did a year ago. There is talent there. The Pirates should be better than what they are. At the very least that Stadium needs a winner. I have a feeling general manager David Littlefield is about to be shown the door and Tracy could follow. If not Tracy, then it could be Houston skipper Phil Garner who is given a pink slip.
5) Robinson Cano will battle for the AL MVP award - This maybe my boldest prediction of all-time. The Yankees ARE going to make the playoffs and Cano will be the reason why. I guess you can make the argument that if they do reach the postseason, there is no way anyone other than Rodriguez wins the award. He has been a beast the entire first half, though, and where are the Yanks? Cano is who will make the Yankees go in the second half.