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Bud Selig can be stubborn and insensitive, but a growing number of former and contemporary players are hoping to soften the MLB commissioner enough that he’ll show some compassion, cave in and publicly support Barry Bonds.
Bonds, of course, is closing in on Hank Aaron’s career home-run record. He entered last night with 745 homers, only 10 behind Aaron’s mark.
Luminaries such as Willie Mays, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith, Gary Sheffield and Greg Maddux have sent pleas to Selig in recent days, asking the commish to at least temporarily disregard Bonds’ personality shortcomings — and reported use of steroids — in order to pay tribute to him. A formal petition may also be en route to Selig.
The commish hasn’t made plans to appear at the stadium where Bonds ties and/or erases Aaron’s record and may not even publicly comment on the feat.
“Whether Bud wants to be there or not, it’s something he must do for baseball,” Smith said. “This is important history, and it’d be wrong if he isn’t involved.”
• When he was a bat boy with the Devil Rays a few years ago, Jesse Litsch vowed he’d pitch in the majors before 2008.
“I didn’t believe him,” Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford said. “I was wrong.”
Litsch, 20, won a game for the Blue Jays this week. He’ll pitch again in Philadelphia this weekend.
His father, Rick, incidentally, was once the famous Litsch. Sort of. He was a professional musician and made a few shekels with a country tune, The Beer Drinker’s National Anthem.
• Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, 45, has told Detroit management that he intends to play until he’s 50. And general manager Ken Holland plans to accommodate him, saying: “I’ll keep signing Chris to one-year deals until he turns 50 or until I’m fired — whichever comes first.”
Perspective: Chelios was the NHL’s top defenceman in 1989, when Nicklas Lidstrom was drafted by the Wings, and again in 1993, when Chris Pronger was drafted by the Hartford Whalers.
• NBA rumblings suggest Sam Mitchell has asked Raptors management for a four-year, $16-million US contract, and there’s widespread speculation that Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo isn’t interested in paying the irascible coach that much.
Conjecture is strong that Colangelo will lowball Mitchell just so he can hire the type of coach he’s wanted all along.
And, by the way, sources say Indiana star Jermaine O’Neal has asked the Indiana Pacers to trade him to New York because he’d like to play for Knicks coach Isiah Thomas.