|Bay Area bash: Bonds to throw All-Star party and gets to play, too|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 01 July 2007 14:38|
Now, the soiree will be a night to remember for the probable future home run king.
Bonds was elected a starter for the National League squad Sunday, his 14th All-Star selection and first since 2004.
``This is the best one,'' Bonds said, standing at his locker after a 13-0 win against Arizona. ``You know, it'll probably be my last, too, so it's awesome.''
The San Francisco star made a giant leap in the final week to earn the chance to play in his home ballpark in the July 10 game.
He trailed the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano 1,332,581 to 1,213,423 when totals were released Monday. Bonds received 1,111,968 votes over the final few days to finish with 2,325,391 - 122,878 ahead of Soriano.
``I didn't know. I didn't keep track,'' Bonds said. ``It's just amazing right now. It's pretty cool. ... To be able to represent my hometown is great, phenomenal.''
``He got my vote,'' Giants center fielder Dave Roberts said.
The 42-year-old Bonds heads into his team's final six-game trip before the All-Star break with 750 home runs, five shy of tying Hank Aaron's record.
Two of Bonds' kids, 17-year-old son Nikolai and 8-year-old daughter Aisha, and his wife Liz were waiting after the game to help him celebrate - and probably assist in planning the shindig.
``I'm having a huge party Monday here in San Francisco. I was having a party, anyway, because the All-Star game was here, whether I was in it or not,'' Bonds said. ``It's San Francisco. It's the All-Star game, and it's the right thing for me to do to have a big party.''
Giants owner Peter Magowan has been saying for weeks that Bonds deserved to be an All-Star. The slugger, who turns 43 on July 24, is batting .304 with 16 home runs and 40 RBIs while playing in 73 of the team's first 80 games. He has also walked 84 times, 29 of those intentional passes.
``We're thrilled and think it's the right choice given his remarkable career,'' said Larry Baer, San Francisco's executive vice president. ``Obviously, Giants fans and fans around the country wanted to see him play. It wouldn't have been quite right with the game in San Francisco if in the top of the first inning someone else jogged out to left field.''
Bonds will start alongside pal and Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr., the NL's top vote-getter. Griffey hit his 585th home run Sunday and will see Bonds in Cincinnati starting Tuesday before they reunite in the Bay Area.
``One guy will be a lot bigger than everybody else. It's his hometown,'' Griffey said. ``He gets to have all the fun stuff and the press conferences. I just get to play. The game is always fun. Some of the things on the field and off the field aren't as much fun, but the game is always fun.''
The support for Bonds from fans elsewhere was startling considering the allegations of steroid use surrounding his pursuit of Hammerin' Hank's mark.
Bonds will be the oldest player to ever start in an All-Star game, and that's why he won't commit now to playing in Monday's Home Run Derby. He has appeared in six of the home run contests, winning it in 1996 in Philadelphia.
Bonds, who is healthy and played Sunday in a day game after a night game, said he planned to wait until later in the trip to decide whether to enter the event - but sounded doubtful.
``I don't think so. I don't have anything to prove in that,'' Bonds said. ``I don't feel any pressure. I'm 42, guys, almost 43. It's asking a lot for me to go out there and do that. I still have to get through this week, playing in Cincinnati and St. Louis. We don't have an off day before the home run derby.''
Bonds was the lone member of the Giants chosen. Omar Vizquel, the club's 11-time Gold Glove shortstop, finished third. Catcher Bengie Molina came in at fourth.
Everybody knew getting Bonds in was the biggest deal this year.
``I think when our staff got together, we were not surprised at all that either the fans or the players were going to vote him in and that somehow we would put him on (the team),'' said NL manager Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals. ``He's having a good year. I really like our lineup.''
Griffey will let Bonds chase down most of the balls. It's Bonds' show.
``We've all played center field. They've got everything until I call it,'' Griffey joked. ``That seems to be how it's worked here, so we'll try it there.''
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.