BOSTON RED SOX pitcher Curt Schilling apologized for his seething rant about Barry Bonds.

After a day of reflection - undoubtedly encouraged by Red Sox management and probably Major League Baseball - Schilling wrote on his blog, "Everyone has days and events in life they'd love to push the rewind button on; [Tuesday] was one of those days.

"Regardless of my opinions, thoughts and beliefs on anything [regarding] Barry Bonds, it was absolutely irresponsible and wrong to say what I did. I don't think it's within anyone's right to say the things I said [Tuesday] and affect other people's lives in that way."

Schilling was wrong for saying on a radio show Tuesday that Bonds admitted to cheating on his wife. That was a low blow that could cause unnecessary pain to Bonds' wife and children, and that's off limits.

But besides that, I'm sorry Schilling felt the need to apologize for the things he said about Bonds - especially about Bonds using performance-enhancing substances.

Just because Bonds' testimony in the BALCO investigation was leaked, it doesn't change the fact Bonds told the grand jury he used substances that the San Francisco Chronicle reports were illegal, undetectable steroids, even if he said he didn't know what they were at the time.

Yes, this is illegally leaked information, and Bonds isn't on trial - yet.

But in the court of public opinion, that, along with the changes in his appearance, is enough to convince me he used illegal substances to increase his home-run statistics.

Bonds entered last night with 745 career home runs. Because he is healthy again, he's back to terrorizing baseball. He will pass Hank Aaron's all-time home run mark of 755.

The cheater will win.

Bonds will steal Aaron's record, just as I believe Mark McGwire stole Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998.

It's a shame, and I wish more people in baseball had Schilling's courage and would simply say what most of them believe is true.

Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth's record while gracefully performing in one of the most vile atmospheres ever, deserves so much more than having baseball's brethren silently acquiescing as Bonds supplants him as the all-time home run king.

Every time I hear a player or broadcaster try to defend Bonds with that "he's never tested positive" argument, I want to scream.

For the life of me, I can't understand why ESPN continues to treat this as a single-angle story and ignore the likelihood that Bonds is chasing Aaron after supercharging his body with illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Fraud is a legitimate sidebar to this story. It's probably the co-lead.

Now there seems to be this undercurrent of talk that baseball commissioner Bud Selig should be in attendance when Bonds breaks the record, as a show of courtesy.

The heck with acting appropriately.

Not only should Selig say he's not going, he also should say that he's not going because he believes Bonds cheated his way to the record by using illegal substances and that he won't support the desecration of Aaron's hard-earned record by attending any Bonds-related ceremony.

Bonds doesn't deserve that courtesy.

Because Ken Griffey Jr. suffered so many injuries, and because Alex Rodriguez still has another decade to play, Bonds is the best overall player I have ever seen. Unlike McGwire, Bonds should be a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection, because most of his qualifying credentials come from his natural ability, not super juice or magic vitamins.

But I don't believe his single-season home run record and the all-time home run mark he will soon own were legitimately earned.

I think Bonds cheated to get the mind-blowing home-run power he displayed during the 5-year stretch that put him in position to move by Aaron.

It's too bad Schilling felt the need to apologize for his comments about Bonds, because they are the ones everyone should make.

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