|Longballs just one thing missing when Giants open post-Bonds era at home|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 06 April 2008 13:24|
The fog horn would blow, the fans would be ecstatic and the counter measuring up Bonds to the other great sluggers in baseball would be changed.
Often times when Bonds would leave a game early, so too would many of the fans, regardless of the score. It was part-baseball, part-side show at San Francisco's beautiful waterfront ballpark.
When the Giants play their first home opener since cutting ties with Bonds after 15 seasons, there will surely be a different feeling. Matt Cain (0-0), the pitcher the Giants hope will be one of the faces of the franchise in the post-Bonds era, will take on Greg Maddux and the San Diego Padres on Monday afternoon.
``It will be different without him,'' Cain said Sunday in Milwaukee. ``That's something that we're trying to get past. But I mean it's (the opener) something that I hope the fans look forward to. We're all looking forward to getting back home, obviously.''
The ballpark will be missing a few of the elements that were prominent during Bonds' chase of the home run record. The banners honoring record home run No. 756 that adorned the light standards surrounding the center-field scoreboard are gone, as is the counter showing the career home run leaders and the rubber chickens that were hung from a rope after each intentional walk.
Also, the ``Road to History'' mural in left field honoring Bonds will be replaced by a 50th anniversary montage that will change every couple of homestands. Bonds will be one of the players remembered in those montages, said Staci Slaughter, the team's vice president of public affairs.
``The only thing that came down were things that were related to him as an active player which any team would do,'' Slaughter said. ``He'll be featured in our 50th anniversary celebrations. He's a huge part of our 50 years.''
Bonds' achievements are honored in displays honoring the 50th anniversary of the franchise's move West from New York around the ballpark, including on seven of the 14 bronze markers on the Giants History Walk, and a tribute to his seven MVP awards.
There will also be a plaque revealed Monday on the right-center field wall near where the record-setting homer landed.
The ``Splash Hits'' counter recognizing those signature home runs into McCovey Cove has been moved. Although it doesn't figure to get much use this season. Bonds accounted for 35 of San Francisco's 45 ``Splash Hits.'' Randy Winn is the only player on the roster with even one, a longball into the Cove against San Diego back in 2005.
If the first week of the season is any guide, there probably won't be too many homers of any kind for Giants fans to celebrate. San Francisco has hit only two home runs and scored 12 runs in losing five of its first six games on the road.
``We're excited even though we're limping home here a little bit,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``It's always a great day when you have your home opener. You're in front of your fans. We just want to get this turned around when we get home and get some wins under our belts, get some confidence with this club.''
Bonds hit more than a quarter of San Francisco's home runs in the first eight years in the ballpark, accounting for 160 of the 628 hit by the Giants. No one else even hit 50.
The Giants announced last September they were cutting ties with Bonds, about a month after he broke Hank Aaron's career home run record. He finished the season with 762 career homers.
``We have to find a way to understand what the situation is and to understand that we don't have him anymore, and go at it the best way we can without him,'' catcher Bengie Molina said. ``He's obviously going to be missed, his presence and all that stuff, but we have to find a way to say to ourselves and actually do it in the field that we're not going to have him.''
Bonds was then indicted in November on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in the BALCO steroids distribution case and still hasn't found a job with another team.
AP freelance writer Joe Totoraitis in Milwaukee contributed to this report.