Selig remains undecided on attending No. 756

The Baltimore Sun

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds is only five home runs away from setting the all-time mark of 756, but baseball commissioner Bud Selig still hasn't decided whether he'll be in attendance for the historic clout.

"I have made no decision yet," Selig said yesterday while speaking at the annual All-Star luncheon with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "None, zero on the Barry Bonds situation."

Earlier in the day, SI.com reported that Selig would be on hand for the home run, "barring something unforeseen and drastic." Selig vigorously denied the report, stressing that the decision has not been made.

"I said I would do it at the appropriate time and I will determine what the appropriate time is," Selig said. "And that has yet to be determined."

He did not give a timetable for the decision and would not specify why he wouldn't commit to attend, but said the media could "draw any conclusions that you want."

"Look, I understand I am the commissioner of baseball and this is the most hallowed record in American sports," Selig said. "If I were you, I'd be asking the same questions."

Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's record 755 home runs has been clouded by accusations that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs during his career. Last year, Selig appointed former Sen. George Mitchell to investigate steroid use in the sport. The investigation is continuing, though Selig said he did not know whether Mitchell has attempted to talk to Bonds.

"Senator Mitchell does not discuss who he is requesting, what he is requesting and how he is requesting [it], which is how I wanted it," Selig said.

Ripken getting closer

Ever since his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cal Ripken Jr. has been asked about the contents of his acceptance speech. His response was always that he has given it some thought, but he wouldn't know exactly what he'd say until induction day gets closer. Now, three weeks away from his day in Cooperstown, N.Y., Ripken is starting to formulate a plan.

"Well, I have an outline and a frame and put things down on paper. I wouldn't say it's refined by any means," said Ripken, who met with reporters before last night's All-Star Game. "For me, there's certain parts of it that's emotionally packed and I have to practice more times to get that emotion to a point where I think I can deliver a message.

"I'll probably lock myself in a room the last week and really start to get my mind around it. But I guess actually giving a speech, standing up there at that moment, is probably like a live game. You really can't totally prepare for it."

Ripken touched on several other topics during the news conference, including his consecutive game streak. Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada had the longest active streak before he went on the disabled list recently.

"I was feeling really bad," Ripken said. "Tejada was breathing down my neck for a minute, so I had him taken care of."

As for his opinion on Bonds' chasing Aaron's home run record, Ripken said, "I'm someone that actually more personally feels, you don't like to jump to any conclusions, you don't like to cast judgments and I would like to assume everything is on the up and up until I know differently.

"So I'm going to go about this wanting it to be good, wanting it to be right, and watching it as a great baseball moment."

Getting his due

Brian Roberts wasn't the only one representing the Orioles yesterday at the All-Star Game. Brian Ebel, a clubhouse favorite and the team's assistant athletic trainer since 1996, was selected as one of two American League athletic trainers.

"I am having a great time. It has been a really good experience," said Ebel, 41. "It has been a great family trip, too."

Ebel's wife, Nancy, and sons, Brady, 13, and Brett, 10, came to San Francisco a day ahead of their dad, who was still in Texas with the Orioles. They attended the celebrity game Sunday and watched Monday's Home Run Derby from the field. Ebel's sons also had the chance to shag fly balls during batting practice.

Roberts takes it easy

Roberts opted to stay away from the party scene that is a staple of All-Star festivities. He said he considered attending a party thrown by Bonds, but decided to take it easy after the Home Run Derby.

"All the people that were in my hotel room, they were here from the East Coast, and they were all [tired]," Roberts said. "I heard it was way too crowded, anyway, so I'm glad I didn't go."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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