It was quite a week for professionalism in broadcasting. Padres announcer Ted Leitner went big off the tee, raging on about Barry Bonds and the illegitimacy of 756. Before the Giants played the Padres, Leitner said he hoped he wouldn't have to call either 755 or 756 because "this is a bastardization of history."
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
Unfortunately for Leitner, his prayer wasn't answered.
Agree or not, you have to admit it's an awe-inspiring act of self-aggrandizement -- maybe the most awesome ever. Unfortunately, as is so often the case in the age of short attention spans and limited perspective, no one managed to get the story right. Even the headlines were off the mark, because instead of "Voices of Padres Dread Bonds Call," it should have been:
Local Announcer to God:
Help Me by Halting Bonds
Leitner didn't want to be the one at the mike when Bonds made history, and that's fine. Whatever. You could argue that announcing the happenings of Padres games -- no matter who does it and what they do -- is a big part of why they pay him. But hey, the man's entitled to his preferences.
Unfortunately, his comments about Bonds were mistaken for news. The newspaper reporters thought his views on the legitimacy of the record were the driving force behind the story, when clearly that was just a sidelight.
The news, of course, was Leitner's apparent belief that God cares not only about the number of home runs Barry Bonds hits, but the announcer who is calling the game on local radio when he hits them.
This is amazing. If true -- if a supreme being does care about such things -- it's a truly phenomenal development in the world of spirituality.
Thankfully, Bonds hit No. 755 on Leitner's watch, and he was forced to say the words he so dreaded. But ask yourself this: What might have happened if Bonds had gone homerless through three games in San Diego?
Could you have proven that it wasn't God? Could you have proven that Leitner's daily prayers at the steering wheel had nothing to do with it? And if that had been the logical conclusion, how would we -- the American sports-loving public -- been forced to respond?
A homerless weekend -- proof that God not only cares about the games, but the announcers as well?
The revelation could have shaken the world to its spiritual core.
I think I speak for all of us when I say we dodged a close one.
And I don't say this often, but here goes: Thanks, Barry. Good work.
This Week's List
• OK, Bud, so you decided not to clap for No. 755, but could you at least do us one small favor: At least look like you know what you're watching.
• Because, the way it looked from here: When Bonds hit that homer, Mr. Selig, you looked a lot like an old man who was napping in front of the television and was startled awake when the dog started barking.
• If you're A-Rod, at what point do you consider at least discussing the possibility of a restraining order? I can't be the only one who's a little weirded out by Bonds' constant messages to Alex Rodriguez as he discusses breaking the record.
• Of course, if you read between the lines, here's what you'll read: Bonds is referencing A-Rod -- I'll be there for you, we have to stick together, all that fraternity talk -- as a means of subtly jabbing Hank Aaron.
• And here might be the weirdest thing on the Bonds front: Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan did not attend the games in Los Angeles or San Diego and as of Sunday had not even contacted Bonds to congratulate him.
• I'd like to see Frank Luntz and the boys down at polling central take a minute away from their attempts to polish up Rudy Giuliani's image and take a whack at this demographic oddity: The more everyone gets a look at the people who are snubbing Bonds, the more people are going to start to sympathize with him.
• Just for the heck of it: Dick Drago, purveyor of Aaron's 755th.
• Damn kid should take the stairs, is what I say: On Monday we learned that Brady Quinn's contract talks are being held up by a dispute over "escalator clauses."
• And someone once said he looks bad in red, which sent the guy into a frothy rage for at least a month: Amid the coverage of Rory Sabbatini's alleged insults of Tiger Woods -- since when is "he's beatable" as incendiary as a death threat? -- it was re-reported that in 2002 Sergio Garcia insulted Woods by saying, "I'm respectful of his game and his persona, but we're just two human beings trying to put a little ball in a hole."
• And finally, the 10 minutes you just devoted to Bonds to start your show that was somehow altruistic? Kevin Kennedy, raising his voice on the Saturday Fox pregame show, raged against the media coverage of Barry Bonds, saying it's all "to sell newspapers."
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Tim here.
756: BONDS PASSES AARON
Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron to become Major League Baseball's new all-time home run leader when he belted No. 756 off Washington's Mike Bacsik.
• Steroid talk kept Aaron away
• Bonds' No. 756 ball fetches over $750K in auction
• Mark Kreidler: No. 756 ball: Going, going... sold?
• Bids begin for Bonds' No. 755 and 756 HR balls
• Bonds handed key to city in San Francisco tribute
• Fan putting 756 ball up for auction
• Bonds hits No. 756
• Photo gallery of No. 756
• Diamond Daily: Ascending the throne
• New York man catches ball
• Bush called to congratulate Bonds
• Sadaharu Oh congratulates Bonds
• Selig meets with Mitchell instead
• Attorney keeping Bonds apprised of BALCO
• Action figures ready to hit shelves
• Aaron might "eventually" speak to Bonds
• Bonds gear goes on display at Hall
• Record-tying ball set for auction block
• Rob Neyer: Who's chasing Bonds?
• Keith Law: Up-and-coming sluggers
• Buster Olney: No comparing Bonds
• Rob Neyer: Don't forget Aaron's greatness
• Jim Caple's Off Base: Simply regret-a-ball
• Eric Karabell: Bonds' fantasy value
• Jim Caple: Aaron passes torch to Bonds
• Gene Wojciechowski: Barry has broken record
• Experts: Bonds as the new HR king
• Amy Nelson: How much will the record ball fetch?
• What they're saying about Bonds
• Tim Kurkjian: What if ...
• Jim Caple: Joining the masses in hopes of 756
• Eric Neel: Long-awaited No. 755 is one to savor
• Debate: Who's the greatest slugger of all time
• Imagine Sports: How would Aaron fare today?
• Rank: Who could break Bonds' record?
• Poll: Do you consider Bonds the real HR champ?
• Rank: Is it the most respected sports record?
• Rank: Who are the greatest all-time HR hitters
• Watch Bonds hit No. 756
• Bonds on finally hitting No. 756
• Bonds still has more baseball in him
• Mike Bacsik on giving up No. 756
• Kirk Rueter on Bonds' achievement
• Hall of Fame case for Bonds
• Baseball Tonight breaks down No. 756
• Dusty Baker talks about Bonds
• Bonds speaks after breaking record
• Bonds: "The hardest part is over"
• Baseball Tonight: Is an asterisk needed?
• Baseball Today: Giants GM Brian Sabean
• Pedro Gomez: Bonds' record chase
• Mike Bascik Jr./Sr: Father, son on No. 756
• Buster Olney: Bonds is greatest of his time
• Bob Costas: Record handled with class
• Peter Gammons: Selig's eerie message
• Fay Vincent: Bonds' record was exciting
• Ernie Harwell: Accept Bonds as the new king
• Beyond 756 page: Everything on Bonds
• Milestone Meter: From 756 to 300 to 3,000
• ESPN.com: The Best On Bonds
• Slideshow: Reliving Hank Aaron's No. 715
• Jerry Crasnick: Ready to make the call
• Jayson Stark: Kuiper's the anti-Bonds
• Jim Caple: Bonds feeling no pressure
• Tim Kurkjian: Victims of landmark home runs
• Bonds' Town Hall: Did Bonds use steroids?
• Bonds' Town Hall: Did anyone know?
• Bonds' Town Hall: Media witch hunt
• Brokaw: The Long Winter of Henry Aaron • Beyond 756: Chat with Amy Nelson