|Life on the road isn't all fun and games as Bonds chases record|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2007 17:12|
That wasn't the only difference as the Bonds circus headed south Tuesday to the home of the hated Dodgers, where fans who plunked down $40 to gorge themselves on multiple Dodger Dogs and plates of nachos in the all-you-can-eat right field pavilion got the added bonus of looking up at the scoreboard and seeing Bonds batting cleanup for the Giants.
The adoring fans who greeted each at-bat at home with a standing ovation were gone, replaced by others who would be just as vocal in expressing their displeasure with the slugger. Life on the road can be tough, even if you're Barry Bonds and have a Beverly Hills mansion of your own to call home for the next few days.
If Bonds didn't understand that by now, all he had to do was turn around in his first at-bat to see a man dressed in a doctor's white coat waving a large fake syringe at him. A Bonds lookalike, convincing in a Giants uniform, was next to him.
All along, the general consensus has been that Bonds will break Aaron's record at home, saving both himself and baseball an embarrassing moment. Aaron himself broke Babe Ruth's record at home, though it wasn't without a bit of controversy. The Atlanta Braves tried to keep him out of a series in Cincinnati before being ordered by commissioner Bowie Kuhn to play him.
Bud Selig isn't the type who issues a lot of orders, and he left it up to the Giants and Bonds to sort things out on the six-game trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. So there he was, No. 25 batting in his familiar spot in the order despite speculation that he would be rested on this day and perhaps one other before returning to San Francisco.
But this is Los Angeles. And these are the Dodgers.
``I talked to him and he said he feels great,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``Physically he feels great, mentally it's probably catching up to him a little bit. This is a big series for us.''
Bonds met with Bochy before batting practice to tell him how great he feels, though his name was already in the lineup posted on the clubhouse wall. And why not, considering how Bonds seems sometimes to revel in the hatred spewed at him.
Things aren't likely to get much better in San Diego, where last year a fan threw a syringe in Bonds' direction, suggesting, not so subtly, that perhaps all those homers weren't purely the result his considerable natural talent.
At the age of 43, Bonds could have been excused for taking the night off, especially with the Giants having to play 31 games over the next 30 days. But some of his biggest home runs have come against the Dodgers, including the one that broke Mark McGwire's single season record and the 500th of his career.
At least one interested observer who came early for the game was hoping there wouldn't be any milestone home runs hit this series.
``We don't want him to break it here,'' Tommy Lasorda said. ``Let him break it in the next place he goes.''
Lasorda then went on to tell a story about how he once got Bonds to sign two dozen balls by telling him he had good news and bad news for him. The good news, Lasorda said, was that he had to sign the balls. The bad was he had to go in the clubhouse and get the balls.
``You know what? He went and got them and signed them all,'' Lasorda said.
Lasorda's comments were typical of those expressed by many fellow players, and other baseball types. To a person, they seem to either have respect or quiet admiration for Bonds, though they tend to gloss over any suggestion that Bonds may have taken steroids before going on a late-in-baseball-life home run binge.
Even Jeff Kent, who famously fought with Bonds while the two played together for the Giants, wasn't taking the bait when asked about him.
``I want to stay as far away from answering as possible about Barry and the situation,'' Kent said.
If this was supposed to be a historic night, it seemed lost on the Dodger faithful, who arrived late as usual, with the stadium half empty when the Giants batted for the first time.
The representative from the Hall of Fame was here, just in case, to get a souvenir - maybe a batting helmet - if Bonds hits No. 756. And Selig was back from a weekend at Cooperstown to watch.
Conspicuously missing was Aaron, who had to please Dodger fans when asked a day earlier for comment on why he wouldn't be there.
``I'm making a comment by not making a comment,'' he said.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlbergap.org