The New York Yankees have no plans to celebrate Alex Rodriguez's 660th home run this season, though A-Rod is just five homers short of reaching the mark and tying Willie Mays on the all-time homers list. At least one former player, Barry Bonds, thinks that's a bit ridiculous.
Bonds spoke on the matter with Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
My godfather means the world to me. I love him to a T, but when Alex hits No. 660, I'll be happy for him. Willie will be happy for him. Everybody should be happy for him. Any time anybody in the game does something that's a great accomplishment, the game of baseball should celebrate that.
No matter what. Baseball is benefiting from that person's hard work, so baseball should at least celebrate.
He added, "Why the hate? Why hate on something you're paying to see? I don't understand it. He's entertaining us. I wish life wasn't like that."
There may be a bit of an ulterior motive in Bonds' defense of Rodriguez, of course, as Bonds was wrapped up in baseball's steroids era and hasn't been voted into baseball's Hall of Fame despite being the all-time leader in home runs. It would make sense that Bonds would implore baseball's fans to support A-Rod's accomplishments if he wants the Baseball Writers' Association of America to recognize his own feats.
Plus, Bonds and Rodriguez seem to be friendly. The two worked out together during the offseason, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Israel Fehr of Yahoo Sports).
For the Yankees, the decision to ignore the milestone is at least partially financial in nature. As Nightengale noted, Rodriguez is due a $6 million bonus for reaching Mays' mark, though the team has vowed not to pay it, claiming Rodriguez's suspension for performance-enhancing drug use renders the accomplishment moot.
Nobody can take away the fact that Rodriguez physically hit 660 home runs if he reaches the mark. That's the stance Bonds would like fans to take. But given the way fans have responded to the steroids era, it seems likely the majority of folks will fall into the New York camp in this particular debate.