Throughout the Barry Bonds chase of history, you can see some frustration building on other players faces. When this all began back in San Francisco about two weeks ago, teammates seemed as excited as the fans to see Bonds hit 755 and 756, but now they seem a bit burdened by the chase. One concedes to me, “We're ready to get this thing over with, but we don't think Barry is.”
I ask the player what he means by that, and he says, “Some of us think Barry is enjoying the media pressure and coverage. He loves the publicity and wants this thing to drag on. We want it done.”
The insinuation is that Barry, who has been trying to become a better teammate and more open to fans, is actually still a bit selfish. After all, the well-tested and very professional Giants media staff refers all requests for Barry to his own PR people. Unlike any other player, during batting practice and pre-game, Barry Bonds has his own public relations staff on the field — two women, one young and basically nice; the other about as pleasurable and warm as Barry.
At one point as Barry wades his way through the cameras, his PR staff taps him on the shoulder and encourages him to head over to the railing next to the stands and greet a child. The encounter becomes a photo-op as Barry sings a ball and greets the child and his father. (Apparently the boy attends school with Barry's daughter.)
Once the game starts, and with four security guards sitting on the field in foul ground just feet from his left field position, thousands at Dodger Stadium chant, “Steroids … Steroids … Steroids!” The chorus is the first time in three games in Los Angeles where fans ditched the normal boos and attacked Bonds for his alleged involvement in baseball's performance-enhancing scandal. As the crowd gets louder, Bonds doesn't flinch. He stands as if he's on a field by himself and all around him flashes sparkle in the night.
From my position above the first base dugout near the main concourse, I see people from all walks of life and the picture of each looks the same. If they are a Dodger fan, one hand is cupped around their mouth booing or expressing their displeasure for the home run king, while in the other hand a digital camera madly snaps pictures of Barry Bonds as he approaches the dugout or takes a swing. Giants fans have the same pose by the way, but they cheer with one hand and take photos with the other. It is quite a scene.
Before any of this begins, “baseball ground hog day” (as the media crews have dubbed it) usually begins about the time of Giants batting practice. The routine is virtually the same: Barry comes into the dugout; he meanders about getting his gear and chatting with a few folks (interviews only go to the beat writers and radio reporters and those are few and far between); the cameras all stay out of the dugout next to the railing awaiting Bonds every move and hoping for some sort of peep. As with every day, he smirks at the cameras, sometimes flashes a sly smile and overall is anything but amiable.
Oh, sure, I have asked him questions and even kept them to baseball-related items. As a former player, I know the protocol and, of course, the terminology, but as of yet only a smirk. Our FNC crew and all the other TV crews around us never expect anything of this guy; we are used to his act by now.
So after three long ballgames in Los Angeles, Barry Bonds either walks or gets out. Nothing comes close to a home run and three sell-out crowds go home with bittersweet memories. Yes, the hated Bonds, who plays for the arch rival Giants, didn't tie or break “Hammerin Hank'” record in Dodger Stadium, but they also didn't get to see “history with an asterisks.”
We're all now off to sunny San Diego.
Adam Housley joined FOX News Channel in 2001 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent. Most recently, Housley reported from President Ford's funeral. He also reported from Nicaragua and El Salvador on the war against drugs and scored an exclusive interview with Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega. You can read his full bio here.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.