"Come back tomorrow," McKeon retorted, "and you'll see him walk three more times."
There is no end in sight. Four regulars—Alfonzo, Pierzynski, shortstop Neifi Perez and first baseman J.T. Snow—had one home run in 390 combined at bats through Sunday. "You want to get a hit so bad, whether it's in front of him or behind him, because you want to make people pitch to him," Pierzynski says. "Because when he gets a pitch to hit, it's amazing to watch. You want to do well for yourself, but you want to do well for him, too. You wind up trying too hard to make them pitch to Barry. I think we're more frustrated than Barry is. I've never seen him show frustration. Maybe he feels it inside, but I haven't seen it."
Says Bonds, "It's wearing me down. Dude, I don't ever sit down. I'm on the bases the whole time or in the field. That's the hardest thing. I have to take extra hitting all the time to stay sharp. It's a hard-ass job."
This is baseball as we've never seen it in 150 years, the game's conventions warped by Bonds's mere presence. He has been walked as the leadoff batter in a tie game. He has been walked to move the tie-breaking run into scoring position.
Every Bonds at bat boils with tension. Mets lefthander Al Leiter, who retired Bonds three times last Thursday, said their confrontations felt like instant play-off games, though Shea Stadium was more than half empty. New York relievers walked Bonds in each of his next two plate appearances. Throughout the game he endured another hard night of taunts from road fans, including singsong chants of "BAL-CO" and a sign held by a fan behind the Giants' dugout that read, BALCO BOMBER. It was just another night in a chaotic season in which Bonds so often stands alone. It began with one of his classic impromptu lockerside sessions with reporters, unequal parts charming and churlish.
"You got a crystal ball up your rear end?" he barked at one writer who was curious about how many walks he might draw this year. "You can't predict the future."
When someone else asked about the scrapped idea by Major League Baseball to put movie ads on bases, Bonds hissed, "I don't pay any attention to that stuff. If they have dog poop for bases, you've got to step in the s—-."
When another writer suggested, upon hearing Bonds bleat about the rigors of travel, that he secure a gig like Roger Clemens has with the Houston Astros, allowing him to skip certain road trips, Bonds smiled superciliously and said, "I ain't white. What world are you living in? I live in reality. They'll never let a black man get away with that."
At one point the conversation meandered into Jewish comedians. Bonds said he wasn't aware of any. A reporter mentioned Jerry Seinfeld. "I said funny" Bonds replied. "He's not funny."