Bonds still stuck at home

It's obvious from the All-Star Game voting just how tainted most fans outside of San Francisco think Barry Bonds' pursuit is of Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

Bonds, a seven-time National League MVP, is closing in on what was considered maybe baseball's most hallowed record. Yet, most fans have been ignoring him when casting votes for the All-Star starting lineups.

You'd think that Bonds would be a natural choice for fans, especially with the game in San Francisco and Aaron's record of 755 likely to fall in the same month.

But through the next-to-last voting period, the Giants' slugger was a distant fourth in the balloting for the three outfield spots on the National League team.

The final results will be announced today, along with the other players selected for the All-Star Game on July 10 at San Francisco's AT&T Park.

Some are even questioning whether Bonds will be on the team at all.

No matter your suspicions about steroid use, Bonds would seem to definitely belong in the All-Star Game at least as a reserve.

Just ask Cal Ripken Jr., who will be part of the selection show telecast on TBS after today's Braves game in Florida. Or Tony Gwynn, who will join him.

"He deserves to be there," Gwynn said in a media conference call with Ripken. "There is lots of controversy to Barry Bonds, but when you look at numbers. ... It's even more of a special honor [to be an All-Star] when it's your own park, and I think he should experience that."

Said Ripken, "Yes, there is a shadow that is hanging over the top of him, but when I think of Barry, I think of him as an All-Star player. ... I'd like to see him at the All-Star Game myself."

Sure, Bonds' inclusion will make him a central storyline and commissioner Bud Selig would just as soon have it otherwise. But not wanting Bonds to break Aaron's record

shouldn't be a factor in the All-Star selections.

After two years of injuries, Bonds is hitting like an All-Star again. Certainly opposing pitchers are treating him like one. Bonds leads the majors by a wide margin in walks and on-base percentage and is among the leaders in slugging. His average is near .300, and he tops the Giants in home runs.

"Look at what he's doing at [age] 42," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. "He should be [in the game]."

Fans, though, have cast more votes for NL outfielders Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Ken Griffey Jr. of the Reds and Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs.

What? Bonds may not deserve to start, but he is having as good or better of a first half than at least two of those three. If Bonds doesn't make it on the fans' vote, there is still the players' vote. They get a choice as well and it will be interesting to see just one they feel about Bonds. The final spots on the 32-man teams for each league are picked by the commissioners office, with input from the managers - the Cardinals' Tony La Russa for the NL and the Tigers' Jim Leyland for the AL.

Now, that's when things could really get interesting.

The All-Star Game now carries the gimmick of awarding home field in the World Series to the winner.

That's not going to get people to tune in. But seeing Bonds take aim at McCovey's Cove might.

An All-Star Game homer wouldn't move him closer to Aaron's record, so it might be one that almost everyone could cheer.