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What Should Barry Bonds Do?

Barry Bonds‘s baseball career, and his life in general, have been equal parts accomplishment and tumult. I won’t rehearse the details here, since anybody who cares at all is already familiar with them. The most interesting question to me is: Now what? It seems quite likely that if Bonds really wants to break Hank Aaron‘s all-time home run record of 755, then he will. If he does, the massive anti-Bonds sentiment in the media and elsewhere doesn’t seem likely to diminish. Based on Mark McGwire‘s exclusion, thus far, from the Hall of Fame, it isn’t hard to imagine that Bonds may have some trouble getting into the Hall as well.

So, if you’re Barry Bonds, what do you do?

Here’s one proposal: hit your 755th home run and then retire, making an earnest speech (on national TV at the All-Star game, perhaps?) that recognizes your own accomplishments in the skein of history that includes Aaron, Jackie Robinson, and, yes, Babe Ruth. In exchange for this gracious gesture, however, you require Major League Baseball to agree in writing to never ban you as it banned Pete Rose. While this hardly guarantees admission into the Hall of Fame, it would at least not preclude it. And you would be tied forever (or at least until Albert Pujols finishes his career) with Hank Aaron for the most memorable record in baseball — the tie being an acknowledgment that you could have broken the record if you wanted to but, out of a keen understanding of the baseball public’s psyche, you chose to take the high, noble road.

I put the odds of this happening at about 20,000-to-1.