Originally created 04/15/04

Bonds seems poised to keep breaking records



SAN FRANCISCO -- So, what's next for Barry Bonds? He doesn't even want to think about it. Not yet, anyway.

Bonds was so busy passing his godfather in his climb up the home run list, he didn't ponder what might happen once he accomplished the feat.

With his seemingly effortless swing and powerful 39-year-old body still going strong, anything appears possible for the San Francisco slugger.

"I'm not going to try to figure out what's next," said Bonds, who homered on consecutive days to reach No. 661 and pass Willie Mays for third place. "I'm just trying to stay healthy and win a championship."

Babe Ruth (714) and Hank Aaron (755) still loom in Bonds' path, of course. But first, Bonds wants to enjoy his latest historic homer.

After all of his accomplishments, he believes he's finally earned the admiration of his godfather.

"Barry doesn't need approval from me, because I've been there since he was 5," said Mays, a teammate of Bonds' late father, Bobby. "Whatever he does, right or wrong, I'm going to be there for him. ... Barry knows how much I love him."

Bonds has won a record six NL MVP awards and set the single-season home run record with 73 in 2001, but he may never consider his career complete without a World Series ring. He fell six outs short of the title in 2002 and came back the next spring proclaiming his determination to give the Giants another chance to win it all.

He reiterated that sentiment Monday after splashing home run No. 660 into McCovey Cove to tie Mays. His solo shot Tuesday landed in nearly the same place - and was recovered by the same fan - in the water over the right-field fence.

"A championship. That's it," Bonds said. "I don't have any personal goals."

Someone asked Bonds if he believes he now has room to offer Mays a pointer or two.

Mays quickly piped in before Bonds could speak.

"That's kind of taboo, man," the Hall of Famer said.

"No," Bonds said emphatically, giving his answer with a quick glance at his godfather.

Yet only an inning before Bonds' Monday blast, he pulled catcher A.J. Pierzynski aside for a short pep talk.

"He told me not to worry that I'd been struggling, that there was a reason I was batting behind him," Pierzynski recalled. "It was an all-time moment."

During this special 29 1/2 -hour span, many San Francisco fans forgot about the steroid scandal surrounding their star slugger and focused instead on his marvelous milestone.

Bonds' teammates have shown their support since the questions began to surface this offseason about whether Bonds got a boost from banned substances. He has repeatedly denied steroid use.

"Whenever someone or something is on top, somebody wants to bring it down for their own notoriety," Giants outfielder Dustan Mohr said. "You're not going to bring down baseball. It's the best game on earth. Guys should get more credit for the work they do in the offseason rather than someone accusing them of taking shortcuts. Fans only see us from 7 to 10 p.m."

Mays has refused to speak about the steroid controversy. He's more interested in getting Bonds to shed his prickly personality and become more fan friendly late in his career.

Mays didn't hit his 660th homer until he was in the twilight of his career at 42 and 3 months - on Aug. 17, 1973. Since he retired after that season, many players who were tagged with the title of being the next Willie Mays have fallen woefully short.

"I still think he's the greatest baseball player of all time, bottom line," Bonds said. "They were saying my dad was the next Willie Mays. They just got the name wrong, from Bobby to Barry."

Everybody's curious just how long it will be before Bonds decides he's done.

"I have a little bit of a timetable, and when I reach that timetable, that's it. It's over," said Bonds, who has expressed his plans to play out his contract, which runs through the 2006 season.

Bonds was asked if he'd thought about where he ranks among the best athletes ever, not just the baseball greats.

"Everyone's era is different," he said. "There are going to be great baseball players in every era. So, as long as you're proud of the achievements in your career, that's all that matters. If someone ever hits 73 home runs, I'll be there for them."

Bonds' milestones have been frequent of late. His 500th homer came less than three years ago. Then there was the run to 73 in 2001, a record eight home runs in the 2002 postseason run, No. 600 last season and then this week's memorable shots.

His teammates are enjoying all the fanfare.

"It's neat to be part of history," said J.T. Snow, who scored in front of Bonds on his home run Monday. "It's something the grandkids will talk about, and I was on base. I hope the people of San Francisco appreciate what they have here. Every day is a history lesson."

And there very well may be more to follow.