Don't you feel a little sorry for Barry Bonds?
True, Bonds has the warmth of a dyspeptic IRS auditor. He
dispenses more snarls than twin Dobermans. He's rude, insular and
grouchy. And that's on his birthday.
But nobody, not even Barry Bonds, deserves a World Series week
like he just had. All his life he'd dreamed of getting to one of
these babies, and when he did it brought him all the joy of an
upper G.I. cleansing.
Pitchers walked him like a Fifth Avenue poodle. Blood-red stadium
crowds shook monkeys at him. Forty-four thousand people slapped
88,000 plastic sausages together until his ears popped.
He spent most of the week watching four pitches finish five feet
outside the plate, walking to first base and remaining there
until the inning ended. It was a whole lot of good walks spoiled.
Hell, maybe it was his teammates' revenge. After all, in the
postseason he'd treated them like strangers on a prison bus. When
they whipped the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League
pennant, no champagne sprayed him. And during the World Series
Game 3 introductions, he was the only player on the Giants to jog
straight to his spot without greeting the line of teammates.
Oh, do you work here, too?
Suddenly, it seemed, they were paying back their cleanup hitter.
In the No. 3 slot, second baseman Jeff Kent had one big game out
of seven. The No. 5 hitter, human shar-pei Benito Santiago,
seemed to need an Anaheimlich maneuver. Two guys, Rich Aurelia
and Reggie Sanders, struck out nine times each. Bonds made 30
plate appearances, 19 of those with nobody on. He was stranded 13
times--or as much as Gilligan in one season.
Yet with what little help, love and strikes he got, he nearly won
this thing for San Francisco despite swinging the bat only 25
times in those 30 plate appearances. He absolutely nuked four
home runs, though three of them came with nobody on. He was on
base a preposterous 70% of the time. In fact, for about 20
minutes last Saturday night, during the sixth inning of Game 6,
he was the World Series MVP.
The Giants led the game 5-zilch and the series 3-2. All that was
left was the parade down Market Street. In their clubhouse,
workers were starting to assemble the stage for the traditional
bedlam-filled interviews. Plastic was about to be hung over the
lockers. Up in the press box all the votes for MVP were
collected, and though baseball won't announce this now, it was
Bonds in a runaway.
But then the Angels began their monkey business. Balls started
landing one foot away from San Francisco outfielders, including
Mr. Bulky himself. Bonds has gotten so thick that he doesn't seem
to be able to bend over and pick up a baseball. He doesn't run
down bloops and flares anymore, either, and he has this new habit
of trying to barehand a bouncing ball, as though he no longer
needs a glove. His botching of Garret Anderson's bloop single in
the eighth inning of Game 6--Bonds looked like a man in a tub
trying to find the soap--led to the unearned winning run in the
worst clinching-game choke in World Series history.
The next night, Game 7, left Bonds's dream dead at the Ed, and a
few hundred reporters had no choice but to go to his locker to
ask him about it. He greeted them with, "Back off or I'll snap."
They asked if he would take solace in his amazing World Series
performance. "What are you going to write," he growled, "that I
had a good postseason and we still lost?"
They asked if the Game 6 loss would haunt him during the
off-season. "Why would it haunt me?" he grumbled. "What does that
have to do with me?"
Our bad. We thought you were actually part of the, er, Giants.
The whole thing lasted four minutes, tops. And then he bolted,
leaving an unforgettable imprint on anybody who watched the
Series, one of the clubhouse attendants included. "He didn't
tip," the attendant said. "Nothing." And to think the man employs
three public relations agents.
One hundred feet down the hall, the mostly starless Angels were
up to their eyebrows in joy and hugs and Korbel, 25 lucky guys
who will forever know the glory of winning a team sport as a
So, no, Barry Bonds doesn't get his ring. But then, he doesn't
get a lot of things.
And that's the sorry part.
B/W PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
Barry Bonds had dreamed of going to a World Series, and when he
did, it brought him all the joy of an upper G.I. cleansing.