The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Did Barry care?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended games 3 and 4 of the NLDS between the Giants and Braves. I must admit that I'm a big Barry Bonds fan. Although I live in Miami now, I grew up in Phoenix and had Giants "season" Spring Training tickets growing up, so I saw a lot of Bonds.

On Friday, I was able to get to the stadium a few hours early, in time to watch Giants batting practice. Like you would expect, Bonds put on a show. He hit a few balls into the rightfield bleachers that I worried would hurt the kids who were trying to catch them.

But at the same time, it was interesting to watch Barry and how he fit in with the team. Stories of Barry's special leather chair in the Giants locker room are legendary, as are his lack of interest in being a "good" teammate. Usually the end of the story is that it doesn't matter because Barry contributes so much on the field that whatever happens off of the field doesn't matter.

However, in this series, I have to wonder if it did matter. On Friday, during game three, the fans in the left field stands were riding Barry pretty hard when he was warming up. Fans had signs, creative things to say... you know, pretty much the usual. What surprised me was that the usually (allegedly) quiet Bonds interacted with the fans to some degree. I was too far away to hear what he was saying, but it was clear (through my binoculars) that he was looking at certain fans in the stands and talking to others. It seemed playful, but odd nonetheless. At the very least it would seem to be distracting, particularly in such crucial playoff games.

The most unusual thing that I saw in the whole series was during a pitching change late in Game Four, Bonds walked over towards the Giants bullpen, got a cup of water or Gatorade and sat down on the stool that was near the line for one of the stadium's security people. During other pitching changes, Barry walked over towards the bullpen and it usually looked like he was talking to teammates. While this seemed a little unusual (don't the outfielders usually congregate and talk with each other, if anything?) I didn't think much of it. But actually borrowing someone else's seat and grabbing a quick breather seemed pretty odd.

Barry also made some throws into second and third base where it looked like he might have been hurt. Actually, when it happened live I was starting to hope that he was a little hurt because otherwise the effort he was putting into running the ball down and getting it back into the infield made it seem like he just didn't care.

I hope that isn't the case because I really like Barry. I hope he's coming back next year. One of the articles I read in the paper this week (and I think it was by a San Francisco writer) was that with everything that went on this year and that Barry doesn't get pitched to, maybe he'll just retire. The point that the author was making was that it must be pretty frustrating to come into work everyday and to have someone prevent you from doing your job frequently (i.e. the intentional walk). It cna't be that exciting for Barry to have about one-third of his at bats be rendered meaningless (in terms of him being able to use his abilities to swing the bat) because he's intentionally walked or unintentionally intentionally walked.


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