boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
Dan Shaughnessy

The road is paved with hot issues

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Too much going on. Hard to keep up, especially sitting here 3,000 miles removed from the panic on the streets of Boston.

First Tom Brady gets named best-dressed man in the world -- an unspeakable shot at Bill Belichick, Larry Bird, and yours truly. Then we find out the Celtics are going after Reggie Miller as part of their back-to-the-future archaeological dig. Really now. Reggie Miller? The guy is almost 42. He's a television analyst. Why not just see if Cooz wants to lace 'em up one more time?

But enough about that. Baseball is what we're all about. And we can transition from Brady to baseball by reminding you that handsome Tom went to the same San Mateo high school (Junipero Serra) as Barry Lamar Bonds.

If you watched ESPN yesterday, you might have learned that Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th home run while many of you were sleeping Tuesday night. It was in all the papers, too.

So our long national nightmare is over. Barry's got the record, Pedro Gomez and Nick Cafardo can come home, and we can all get back to our lives. Until the bomb drops, that is. You just know there's an indictment or worse lurking somewhere up the road for Barry Lamar. It was pretty clear from the statements and comportment of Bud Selig that Major League Baseball is expecting some bad news for Bonds in the not too distant future.

Selig's been a handy piñata in the weeks leading up to Barry's moment. He goes down in history as the commissioner of the Steroid Era and he knew he was going to get ripped no matter what he did when Barry powered past Hammerin' Hank Aaron. Still, Bud's no-show for 756 was better-looking than his awkward moment when the camera caught him with his mouth agape in San Diego when Barry hit 755. I'm just wondering what motivated Aaron to tape his exceptionally gracious salutation to Bonds's achievement.

Bonds is a hot-button topic for most people in major league uniforms. Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke of "a lot of conflicted opinions" and withheld praise or criticism of the event. Blowhard Schilling hasn't had much to say about Barry since his infamous "there are good people and there are bad people" diatribe on his radio gig in early May (Schilling apologized to Barry the next day).

At the very least, we've got to give Barry his props for cheating better than anybody else. At this hour, he's taking all the bullets for the scores of players who enhanced performance with illegal substances. Tuesday night's ceremony was not as hideous as it might have been, but one gets the impression that the feel-good days for Bonds are numbered.

Closer to home, there is the issue of fear in the Nation. Bonds's historic moment and the Red Sox' West Coast starting time shifted the focus from the Yankees' charge toward the top of the American League East Tuesday, but a shrinking Sox lead always gets the attention of those who think the Yankees and Red Sox are the only two teams in baseball. E-mail to this space certainly indicates that a lot of you are hearing the footsteps. My favorite transmission was a photograph of a rearview mirror with a Yankee logo stenciled into the glass. The horror.

OK, so the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by 14 1/2 games May 29 and are only six behind after getting trounced in Toronto last night. They are near the top of the wild-card pile and they play six more games against the Red Sox. And Boston has been playing close to .500 ball for over two months.

Appropriately, the Yankees-Blue Jays game was playing on a television situated over the right shoulder of Boston catcher Jason Varitek when I approached him at his locker before last night's/this morning's 9-6 win over the Angels.

"We knew their lineup was too good for them to go away," said the captain. "We just have to play our game and worry about us."

"If the Yankees win out, we're probably not going to win," said Francona, who scribbled out a depleted (no David Ortiz, no Coco Crisp) lineup last night. "If they win the rest of their games, we're probably in trouble. But I thought we've been playing great. We just came in here and lost a couple of games to a good team. If there's people jumping off bridges, they're going to miss some good baseball."

There are times when the Sox are better off being away from home. This is one of those times.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES