4) I think I agree with your disagreement. That is, I think you make a convincing case, that sounds about right. I yield to the senator from the great state of zubin on this point.
5) you have a point, I think it is a lot of things combined. Certainly McGwire was very likeable during his homer quest. I know Sosa was very popular, maybe more popular, during the same 1998 season, but I never liked his showing up pitchers went he hit homers, Mantle never did that, he ran around the bases with his head down. But so many things have changed about American culture in the interim...
You may be right about Bonds breaking records sooner leading to him being more beloved. Maybe. Willie Mays/Mr. Personality he was not. That is for sure.
I may not have a good sense of these things also: my boyhood hero was Muhammad Ali. I loved him for many things, including what I just criticized Sosa for, his showiness, for one thing. But mostly because my dad and all his middle aged conservative friends and all my middle aged conservative teachers hated him (I cleaned up when he beat George Foreman, and loved collecting every nickle of my winnings at age 14).
But if you had told me Ali would have become virtually the most popular person in the world, a kind of global diplomat etc. back then, I never would have believed it.