Last weekend, I hit a Dodgers-Giants game in S.F. and took in SBC Park (I had to stop myself from typing "Pac Bell") for the first time. I gotta say, with all due respect to my all time favorite (and soon to be demolished, which is killing me), the place I call Busch Stadium… Dude, this may be the best place in America to see a game!!! Right smack dab in the heart of the city. Water behind you. Great sightlines. Big frickin’ glove in center. Awesome energy. (The Braves have dominated the East since the first Clinton Administration, and their crowd doesn’t have half the spirit of a bunch of fans watching their team battle it out to finish sub .500) All they gotta do is lower the food and beer prices a smidge ($6.75 will only get you the basic cable nachos), and it’s basically beyond criticism.
We also got to watch Barry’s first homer this season since getting off the gimp list. Say what you wanna say about the guy (I have before, and will continue to do so, most likely in the next paragraph), but seeing him jack one into center (#704) right in front of your eyes is an amazing sight. I was there with a bunch of friends, a couple who are die hard Dodger fans, and even they were up on their feet, high fiving folks in orange and black hats. The smiles forming across their faces- once their jaws rose from the ground- said everything they’d never come out and admit: They were dying to see Barry go long. Even while playing against their beloved Blue, currently battling (I use the term very loosely) for a spot in the playoffs. The sight of this once in a lifetime player (Even if you think he juiced- as I, for one, do- here’s the thing. You could juice the rest of baseball’s past, present and future, and 99.999% of them still couldn’t create his resume) is so awesome to behold, it brings kidlike excitement to those whose sole purpose for attending is to heckle him. He’s just that good. He’s the kind of player people will tell their grandkids about having watched, and the joy it brought to their lives. Even the most casual baseball fans appreciate this greatness.
Which says a lot about how big a $@^& this guy is, when you factor how despised he is anywhere outside of a 415 area code. Not disliked. Despised. Of course, if you take his media berating sessions seriously, which I don’t, he’s just a guy who plays the game and is getting taken down by a bloodthirsty press. He’s actually a terrific teammate. He’s really a good dude. Why doesn’t anyone understand this? Well, Barry, if you’re Jonesing for an image makeover, I might start with your clubhouse persona. I’ve been in various locker rooms for different sports throughout many parts of the country. I’ve been around some big time superstars. And I can honestly say, I’ve never seen anything as ridiculous and off putting as Barry Bonds’ set up and demeanor. He basically has his own VIP lounge off in a corner of the clubhouse, as far away from the rest of the guys as possible. He has two lockers. A big, cushy velvet chair, lest his precious *** get damaged by the standard folding chairs the other shlubs roll with. A private TV, larger than any of the ones stationed around the clubhouse for his peons- my bad, teammates- to share. Plus an understanding that unless you’re part of the circle of reporters he accepts (During my visit, there were two), don’t dare come near. Granted, I had nothing to really ask the guy, other than genuinely wanting to know how he and his dad ended up playing golf against Steve and Rush Sanders in that episode of 90210 (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not), but that’s beside the point. Nobody else in professional sports sequesters themselves off like this. It’s like entering Camp David. I wonder how many guys on the roster he can actually identify by first and last names. I’m setting the over-under at 12.
Maybe it’s just because I’ve never been in the position to have my butt kissed in such a blatant manner. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been remotely as good at anything as Bonds is at baseball, even on a day when he goes 0-4 and commits an error. Walk a mile in another man’s shoes, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. But I could never look my teammates in the eye if I paraded myself around like this. Bonds likes to play the “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” card, but he blatantly displays an attitude of “You’re s%*t compared to me.” And that’s his prerogative, I suppose. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not earth shattering. But while that may not make you Satan, it doesn’t exactly make you a sacrificial lamb, either.