Baseball’s uncoveted free agent

Clearly, there’s no drug testing for baseball agents. How do you explain Jeff Borris’ preposterous claim that all 30 teams in the game might have an interest in signing his top client?

Thirty teams interested in Barry Bonds? If that’s the case, there’s definitely not drug testing for MLB executives either. Not even the Giants have come right out and said they want Bonds back. And if they have their doubts, surely every other team does, too.

And you can go ahead and discount the recent comments attributed to a Baltimore Orioles executive, who said his club might be interested. The Orioles are one of the most dysfunctional franchises going, and even if they are truly considering making a pitch for Bonds, they’re not going to have much company.

We’re talking about a 42-year-old with bad knees and a bum elbow. And he’s under federal investigation for everything from perjury to tax evasion to steroid use. He’s also stalking the most hallowed record in baseball and fans across the country have let it be known rather emphatically that they’re none too pleased about that pursuit.

So what’s the draw? Increased attendance? Perhaps. People do like to look at car wrecks. But only if Bonds gets out of the starting gate with, say, five or six homers in the first three weeks will fans flock to see him. And just as many might avoid him on principal, so it could end up being a wash.

There’s only one team that should be truly interested in Bonds, and it’s the team he’s helped build (and, some would say, dismantle). Only Giants fans want him — and Jeff Borris should know that.

In truth, he probably does. But an agent’s job is to posture in an effort to get his client the best deal possible, which means the agent gets the highest commission possible. So who can blame him?

Bonds, however, shouldn’t be thinking about money. He should be thinking about his legacy. And only in San Francisco does it remain somewhat untainted. He should tell Borris to take a hike and tell the Giants that he’ll play for $3 million in 2007. That way, he makes it clear that he really does want to stay, he really does want to win and he’s willing to ditch his ego to make it all happen.

Then he can spare the fans of 29 other teams some grief, break the record in the only place it will truly be appreciated and be on his merry way after the season.

Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com.

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