The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier is pleased there’s no place on the NL All-Star roster for two of the greatest players of all-time.

After 13 All-Star appearances, Barry Bonds will be spending the All-Star break writing his final impressions of the World Cup for his Web site and perhaps bringing some magazines and some pastries to Balco buddy Greg Anderson, his longtime friend and personal trainer. This week, Balco Greg went to jail for a second time, again for extra-legal activities designed specifically to swell the legend and cover up the drug-addled cheat that is Barry Lamar Bonds.

You think Major League Baseball isn’t just a tad relieved that 1,000 national media types will now have something better to do in Pittsburgh for three days than point out the physical differences between Barry the young, blade-thin, swashbuckling pain-the-Bucco and Barry the, uh, Giant?

Imagine the game’s nationally televised embarrassment at watching Barry swat eight or nine or 10 Home Run Derby baseballs into the Allegheny on the fly, something that has been done only once in 51/2 years of actual competition. Where would Bud Selig have hidden when Chris Berman boomed, “I think that one hit the roof of Max & Erma’s!”

Bonds deserves his place as one of the game’s least liked All-Stars. After 20 years and several hundred suspect homers, he was the top vote-getter for the All-Star Game exactly once, in 1993, twice fewer than Ichiro Suzuki, four times fewer than Ken Griffey Jr.

Similarly, we are relieved not to be expecting Roger Clemens for this affair.

Why is it, after all, that the Rocket, still pumping fastballs at velocities in the mid-90s at age 43, engenders so little public suspicion that his musculature isn’t all natural? Brad Lincoln, a Clemens fan and the Pirates’ top draft pick last month, commented upon meeting the Rocket that he couldn’t believe how big he was.


I’m not sure I can believe it, either.

But even with every benefit of the doubt, an All-Star Game without Clemens is an event without the constant reminder of how the Rocket has, for more than two decades, played the game’s sinful financial politics like a Stradivarius, pitting the game’s top-paying franchises against each other until he’s simply making up ridiculous contract figures ($22,000,022, 22 being his uniform number) for somebody to keep him out of a still overdue and twice reconsidered retirement.

With no Clemens to start the game Tuesday, the National League actually has a chance to win. The last time the Pocket started for the NL, the American League hit for the cycle against him in the first inning on its way to a decisive 6-0 lead.

Collier joins the chorus condemning Manny Ramirez (“you can vote for Manny more than 3 million times, as baseball fans did this year, but it’s hard to bump his mental age past 12” ) for the Boston left-fielder’s “phantom leg injury”, but when it comes to screwing the fans, how do MLB and Fox get off the hook?  The latter’s garish promos for the All-Star Game prominently feature Jason Giambi, Carlos Delgado and Barry Bonds, none of whom are expected to participate on Tuesday night. I’ll wager there will be at least a half dozen viewers, bitterly disappointed they won’t be seeing the Giambino nor the Sultan Of Surly flexing their muscles.