If Barry B*nds has retired after the 1998 season, he might have been happier than he seems in long trek to tainted glory. He would have been spared the disturbing spectacle of his vilified approach to Aaron's 755 career home run record.
Prior to the 1999 season, B*nds would have been guaranteed a first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame. He had 411 home runs, 445 stolen bases, 8 All-Star selections, 8 Golden Gloves and 3 MVP awards.
Since then his incredible stats have earned him 4 more MVP awards and provided him with a chance to break Aaron's record. From 1986 to 1998 B*nds averaged a home run every 16.1 at-bats. Since 1999 (when he turned 35 an age where the power should be falling back) he has averaged a home run every 8.9 at-bats.
San Francisco reporters who follow the BALCO steroid scandal report that the Giant equipment manager testified that since becoming a Giant in 1993, B*nds uniform jersey went from a size 42 to 52, his cap size went from 7 1/8 to 7 1/4 (even though he started shaving his head), and his shoe size went from 10 1/2 to 13.
Baseball unlike other sports has a statistical measure of a player's strength - the home run. For 34 years, 60 homers was the season record. Then for 37 years the record was 61. Then in 4 seasons, from 1998 to 2001, that total was surpassed 6 times.
So in the next week when the record is finally broken, there will be some muted celebrations but B*nds and the game of baseball both lose something in the process.