Prepare for Barryfest.
Hold your nose, if necessary, but get ready for three days of the pros and cons of Barry Bonds.
The 78th major league All-Star Game will be played Tuesday night in AT&T Park and it's going to be Barry-palooza for the next 72 hours. Everyone from Tony Gwynn to Tony Bennett will be asked what they think about Bonds's awkward-yet-historic assault on Hank Aaron's cherished record of 755 home runs.
Bonds goes into this afternoon's game at St. Louis needing only four home runs to tie Hammerin' Hank. Meanwhile, starting tonight the entire major league family descends on San Francisco for a three-day referendum on Bonds's quest.
Ever beleaguered and rumpled, baseball commissioner Bud Selig will be in the Bay Area, but he might want to spend the next three days at nearby Alcatraz. He could not have envisioned this public relations nightmare when the Midsummer Classic was awarded to the Giants all those years ago. Who could have predicted that the 2007 All-Star Game would arrive at the precise moment that Bonds, a local hero and national pariah, is on the threshold of baseball's most celebrated record?
Selig is secretly hoping that Tuesday night will be the last time he finds himself in the same ballpark as Bonds, but the pressure to attend ballgames featuring home runs Nos. 755 and 756 might prove too strong. Tough call for the commish.
Bonds will not be part of tomorrow night's Home Run Derby. He appeared to aggravate his balky knee in Cincinnati Thursday night and is lurching toward Aaron with the look of a man finishing the Boston Marathon running in leg irons. But his name no doubt will be tossed about when young sluggers launch their shots into McCovey Cove beyond the right-field stands in the breathtaking ballpark once known as Pac Bell.
Bonds is slated to be the starting left fielder for the National League Tuesday night. The All-Star start will put him in the same outfield with Ken Griffey Jr. and give him his final practice swings (maybe a couple against Josh Beckett) before resuming his joyless/fraudulent chase Friday at home against the Dodgers.
The video message board at AT&T promotes Bonds's journey as the "Road to History," using the image of a road sign with Barry's career homer total. In this case, the road to history is littered with crater-size potholes.
Bonds's most memorable All-Star moment came in 2002 when he playfully lifted Minnesota Twin Torii Hunter off the ground after Hunter robbed him of a home run in the first inning at Miller Park in Milwaukee. That was the game that ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings when the managers ran out of pitchers. Milwaukee native Selig was shocked and chagrined by the outcome and instituted the current system that rewards the All-Star winner with home-field advantage in the World Series.
We all thought the 2002 All-Star debacle was Selig's ultimate embarrassment. Now this. All Barry, all the time. Played to the tune of a Jimi Hendrix wannabe singing, "Scuse me while I diss this guy."
Does Aaron show up in San Francisco? He already said he wants no part of trailing Bonds around the country. And what about Willie Mays? He's got to be there. He's also Barry's godfather and has studiously avoided saying anything that might taint Bonds. We'll try to get something out of the Say Hey Kid nonetheless. Mays hit his 660 on the level and this must sting a little, even if Barry is practically family.
Harmon Killebrew is having a home run breakfast event in San Francisco this week. He'll be asked about Bonds. I'm still waiting for some strong words from Frank Robinson, one of the most underrated megastars of all time. Frank is not related to Barry. He has no allegiance to the Giants. He has never been afraid to express his opinion. He is an African-American. And he hit 586 homers without cheating. Some truths from Robinson would mean a lot.
Today's players aren't going to rip into Bonds (David Ortiz has done everything but have a parade for him). Donald Fehr's minions know they are not allowed to break ranks. Curt Schilling was one star who dared express a negative opinion of Bonds, but he apologized the next day and has been backpedaling like Ty Law at two-a-days ever since.
Fox broadcasters will do their best to steer clear of Barrygate by the Golden Gate, but it's going to be too obvious to ignore. This is Barry's time. Like it or not.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.