As a Giants fan who has followed them closely for about 15 years, I doubt Bonds would pull a Barry Sanders. He is definitely one of the most disliked (or distrusted, if you prefer) superstar athletes of his generation....I doubt he'll suddenly exit stage left with 756 so close. For someone like Bonds, its much more satisfying to rewrite the record books, and retire with an unspoken "beat that".
Comparing him to Ruth is and endless debate with no definitive answers. I would roughly say Ruth was a better hitter while Bonds was the better player. (Again, this is a very vague statement, and I don't want to fill up 20 pages with stats to back it up). Ruth's offensive numbers, compared to his peers, are off-the-charts crazy. Outhomering other teams? In modern day terms, Bonds would need what, a couple hundred homers? And even though we're looking at statistics, lets not forget Babe's impact on the sport and the country during his career. (After the depression, etc.) Babe Ruth will probably always be the most-recognized name of a baseball player to a non-fan of the sport. Bonds may rewrite his records, but Babe will always be the biggest name in baseball history.
Back to my statement about Bonds being a better 'player'. Forget the homers/average/walks totals for a minute. Lets not forget that Bonds has a stack of gold gloves along with 500 steals. Of course, he is nowhere near the player he was 10 years ago when he'd steal 30 and win the gold glove. But the fact remains he has all that hardware in the trophy room. The only 700/500 player in the game's history, plus
a half dozen gold gloves. What more on the field can a player accomplish? I know Rawlings wasn't giving out the award in Ruth's days, but given his size and foot speed I think its safe to say he was not a gold glove outfielder. He may have been good, I honestly don't know, but I highly doubt gold glove.
So I say Bonds was a better overall player, but Ruth remains the best hitter
, and the name people associate with baseball.
One last thought about Balco, steroids, etc...a lot of people have said if conclusive evidence comes out that Bonds' used steroids, all his records will be asterisked in their minds.
A lot of ballplayers use illegal substances...Canseco, Caminiti, and surely scores of others along the way. But nobody is doing what Bonds is. I won't argue that steroids don't help, but I will argue nobody on or off steroids has done what Bonds is doing in about, oh, 50 years or more. I, too, like comparing players against their peers when comparing players of different eras. So if a lot of guys in this era are juiced, even if Barry is one of them, he still has no more of an unfair advantage than anyone else who is/has used them. He is still the best of his generation, by a tremendous margin.
Bonds will always be scrutinized about steroid use, but he gets more criticism about it than any other ballplayer, which isn't right. After all, is anyone calling for asterisks next to Sosa's name because he was using a corked bat? Speaking of bulking up....check out Sosa back in the day
He has bulked up just as much as Bonds, as have a ton of others. But we don't care about them because they're not chasing down Aaron. McGwire was on andro....but we don't discredit his 70 homers because it was legal at that time
? Its not now....therefore, I want to know how we compare McGwire's homerun totals to any player post-andro....
You could drive yourself nuts saying, "well, players could use andro before, so we can't compare him to him", or, "boy, they could throw spitballs legally back then, so we can't compare Clemens to those guys". Bottom line is, you have to compare against their peers, and with or without steroids Bonds is still the greatest of his generation, and certainly top-3 all time under any criteria.