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World Series has hollow ring for Bonds

Posted: Monday October 28, 2002 12:53 AM
Updated: Monday October 28, 2002 10:18 AM
  Barry Bonds Barry Bonds homered four times and reached base in 21 of 30 Series plate appearances. AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- His feats meant nothing now, all his homers adding up to the smallest number in baseball: Zero rings.

All the records, all the slow trots after amazingly long shots, all the walks, all the fear Barry Bonds created in opposing pitchers couldn't bring him the one thing he wanted, the achievement he said would crown his life in baseball.

The World Series title, dangling in front of him Saturday night, just six outs away, was snatched back faster than a decision to give him an intentional walk. For the 17th straight season in a major league career that's been among the greatest, he went home without a championship.

"I went 1-for-3 with a walk. That's a good day," he said Sunday night after San Francisco's 4-1 Game 7 loss to Anaheim. "Am I supposed to go 3-for-3 with three home runs? What do you want from me?"

Bonds, who also lost the MVP vote 4-1 to Anaheim's Troy Glaus, had a World Series matched perhaps by only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson and Gene Tenace.

He was as snippy as ever when it was done, following the mold of Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, two other greats uncomfortable talking about their feats in their playing days.

The difference in history?

DiMaggio is remembered as a winner, Williams as a great who came up short.

When it was over, when the Angels ran onto the field and let out 42 seasons of frustration, when the Rally Monkey-waving, Thunder-Stix bashing crowd went wild with glee, Bonds walked down the steps of the first-base dugout and picked up his glove. He went back, tapped son Nikolai on the back and walked down the runway to another offseason.

Other players might let a loss like this ruin their winter, play each possible turning point over and over in their minds, trying to figure out if there was anything else they could have done.

Not Bonds. v "It's not going to haunt us," he said. "We'll go to spring training and start again."

When he began his postgame comments, he told a cameraman: "Chill. Not that close, dude. Back up or I'll snap."

His frustration was understandable.

On Saturday night, the Giants led 5-0 in the seventh inning and 5-3 in the eighth, only to lose 6-5. Sunday's loss left the team without a World Series title since 1954, when Bonds' godfather, Willie Mays, led them to victory when they still played at the Polo Grounds in New York.

He swatted 1,800 feet of home runs against the Angels, hit a record eight homers in the postseason, but still couldn't win that ring.

"The guy to me, Bonds, has been the most dominant from what I've seen in 35 years of watching major league baseball," said Jackson -- who went 3-for-3 with three homers in the Yankees' 1977 clincher. "I haven't seen anybody do what Bonds has done the last two years."

But Jackson was wearing his ring and Bonds still doesn't have one. At 38, Bonds may never get to the Series again.

Walk him? Pitch to him?

It was the story of the Series, of October and of the season, too.

He began the month with a postseason history more befitting a scrub than a star, with one homer, six RBIs and a .196 average in 97 at-bats. This October, he hit .356 with eight homers, 16 RBIs and 27 walks.

Anaheim pitched to him just once with a runner in scoring position -- and he doubled in the first run of the Giants' 16-4 Game 5 rout. He walked 13 times, two more than the previous Series record shared by Ruth and Tenace. Seven of those were intentional, another mark.

He scored on three of the walks, including two of the free passes. Of the 112 pitches he saw in the Series, only 39 were strikes. He swung just 25 times.

When he did connect with his 34-inch black maple Rideau Crusher bat, the ball went a long way. He batted .471 (8-for-17), with four homers and two doubles.

He homered in his first at-bat of the opener, then put a 485-foot shot halfway up Edison Field's bleachers against Troy Percival in Game 2, and he connected again in Game 3. He hit another bomb in Game 6 off Francisco Rodriguez, and pumped his arm like Kirk Gibson as he started his trot.

His 1.294 slugging percentage broke Tenace's 1972 record of .913 for a seven-game Series. and was third for the overall mark behind Gehrig (1.727) and Ruth (1.375) in the Yankees' four-game sweep of 1928.

He reached on 21 of 30 plate appearances, his .700 on-base percentage breaking the record of .625 for a seven-game Series, set by Johnny Lindell of the 1947 Yankees, but shy of Billy Hatcher's overall mark of .800 in Cincinnati's four-game sweep in 1990.

"I'm not going to lie -- it was fun," Bonds said. "It was great."

He may have had an incredible season, winning his first batting title with a .370 average, walking a record 198 times, receiving a record 68 intentiona passes and breaking Williams' 1941 on-base percentage with a .582 mark, but it wasn't as memorable as 2001, when he set the home run record with 73. You can't hit it if it's not over the plate.

Emotionless as ever, Bonds gave credit to the Angels.

"They just came back and they battled," he said. "They took advantage of every mistake we made. It's disappointing, but somebody has to lose."

Once again, it was Bonds.

 
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