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.