ATLANTA - If and when Barry Bonds breaks the all-time home run record, Hank Aaron doesn't plan to be there.
It has nothing to do with his feelings about losing the record, or any ill will toward Bonds. For Aaron, it's simply a matter of convenience.
"If he's in San Francisco, I'm going to wake up at six o'clock in the morning and go fly to San Francisco? No, I will not do that," Aaron said Thursday, the 30th anniversary of his 715th home run, the one that surpassed Babe Ruth. "I'm not interested in flying six hours and watching a baseball game or watch him break the record. I wish him all the luck in the world, but I have no interest in that."
The Braves held a ceremony honoring Aaron before Thursday night's game against the Mets, and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue proclaimed it "Hank Aaron Appreciation Day" throughout the state.
Several of Aaron's former teammates attended, and his wife, Billye, sang the national anthem.
Even Al Downing came. He was the pitcher from the Dodgers who threw the ball Aaron hit over the wall in leftfield for the record-breaking homer.
"It's entirely appropriate for the Braves on this day to recognize Hank and his achievement," said Bill Bartholomay, chairman emeritus of the Braves. "He's Mr. Brave in every respect, and, in my opinion, the greatest player in the history of the game."
Bonds had 659 homers heading into the Giants' game Thursday night against San Diego, and that total was one behind his godfather, Willie Mays, for third all-time.
Once he passes Mays, Bonds will have only the Babe between himself and Aaron.
"I just believe that if Barry Bonds stays on the same course, he probably will break the record," said Aaron, who holds a mostly ceremonial position as senior vice president and assistant to the president with the Braves.
Aaron completed his 24-year career with 755 homers, including 733 with the Braves, and joined the team's front office when he retired.
MOST VALUABLE TEAMS: The Yankees are baseball's most valuable franchise, Forbes magazine's estimates, but the worth has declined because of the sport's revenue-sharing system and luxury tax.
The Yankees are estimated to be worth $832-million, the magazine said in its April 26 issue, down from an $849-million estimate last year.
The Expos, owned by the other 29 teams, is last at $145-million, just behind the Devil Rays ($152-million).
The Red Sox moved into second place at $533-million, with the Mets third at $442-million.
SCHMIDT'S DEBUT: Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt will have to wait at least another day for his first victory as a manager. His Clearwater Threshers dropped their Class-A Florida State League opener 14-11 in 11 innings.
STEROIDS: The Senate urged Major League Baseball to adopt stronger steroids testing, passing a nonbinding resolution. Senators warned that "real" legislation will follow if the players and owners fail to act. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the resolution's sponsor, said neither he nor his colleagues want to be involved in a management-labor dispute. But he warned if baseball fails to act, "obviously we have to explore other options." Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., set a timetable of two months for action before "real legislation" is introduced. Dorgan did not say what form a bill might take.
FOREIGN PLAYERS: The percentage of major leaguers born outside the 50 states declined slightly to 27.3 percent after six straight seasons of increases. Of the 830 players on rosters and disabled lists as on Sunday, 227 were born outside the 50 states, the commissioner's office said. That was down from 230 (27.8 percent) last year.
EXPOS: Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has had major renovations since the team played 22 "home" games there last season.
The capacity has been increased by about 6,000 to accommodate 20,000 fans. There are more outfield seats, new artificial turf, a new scoreboard and renovated locker rooms.
Local authorities hope the improvements will convince officials that Puerto Rico has the ability to be the team's permanent home.
INDIANS: Jason Anderson was claimed off waivers from the Mets and optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.
METS: Scott Erickson missed the first NL start of his career after he strained a hamstring 11 minutes into his warmup. Reliever Dan Wheeler replaced him against the Braves.
PIRATES: Rick Reed decided not to report to Triple-A Nashville after failing to make Pittsburgh's opening-day roster and will retire.
RED SOX: Right-hander John Stephens was claimed off waivers from the Orioles and assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket.
REDS: Brandon Larson's bad luck has followed him on a medical rehabilitation assignment.
The third baseman was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance, forcing him out of a game for Triple-A Louisville. X-rays found no fracture in his right elbow.
Larson will be evaluated again today to see whether the injury will set him back.
An eye infection sidelined him at the outset of camp, and he developed turf toe and went to the DL.
TWINS: Rookie catcher Joe Mauer is expected to be out a month after having his meniscus removed from his left knee.