Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: Should MLB celebrate Bonds?
Amid an investigation by Major League Baseball after publication of a book detailing alleged steroid abuse for at least five years starting in 1998, Barry Bonds has absorbed taunts, catcalls and the occasional object from fans this season.
On Friday, he will face perhaps the most hostile of crowds in all of sports.
Bonds’ pursuit of second place on the all-time home run list heads to Philadelphia when the San Francisco Giants (14-14) begin a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies (14-14).
While Bonds has proclaimed he never used performance-enhancing drugs, many fans nationwide seem to think otherwise. On April 3, a spectator in San Diego threw an empty syringe at Bonds as he walked off the field between innings during the season opener. During a series in Colorado later in the month, fans chanted “Juice!” when he came to bat against the Rockies.
Some fans at Milwaukee’s Miller Park on Thursday wore white T-shirts with “Giant” and the image of a syringe on the front, and “Roids” above Bonds’ No. 25 on the back.
Those incidents may be nothing compared to what he will likely face in Philadelphia, where sports crowds can be surly at best.
Fans at old Veterans Stadium cheered in 1999 when Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin lay motionless on the turf with a neck injury suffered when he landed awkwardly after making a catch.
“This, in terms of bad taste, was as bad as it gets,” then-Mayor Edward Rendell, an avid sports fan and now governor of Pennsylvania, said at the time.
Ten years earlier, fans pelted national TV broadcasters with snowballs during a Cowboys-Eagles game. Even Santa Claus was booed and pelted with snowballs during a 1968 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Philadelphia natives also aren’t immune to fans’ taunts. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who made the jump to the NBA after starring at a suburban Philadelphia high school, was named MVP of the 2002 All-Star game despite being booed from the moment he was introduced.
Giants manager Felipe Alou held Bonds from the starting lineup in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to the Brewers to rest him before this series.
“He’ll play all three games in Philadelphia,” Alou said.
Bonds was in the on-deck circle with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday when Pedro Feliz flied out to center field to end the game. The seven-time NL MVP had little to say after the game.
“No way. No way. No way,” he said, waving his hands to shoo reporters away from his locker. “Get out of here. Go.”
Bonds has hit all four of his homers this season in his last 26 at-bats, and is batting .308 in that span. He trails Babe Ruth by two homers for second all time, and has hit a pair of milestone home runs in Philadelphia.
On July 8, 1993, Bonds hit his 200th career homer off Jose DeLeon. He then connected for career home run No. 250 off Shawn Boskie on July 18, 1994.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he plans to let his pitchers go after Bonds.
“I don’t want him to hurt us. I’m not planning to walk him 12 times. We might walk him some, but not 12 times,” Manuel said.
Bonds, who has homered off a record 419 pitchers in his career, looks to increase that number when he faces Gavin Floyd (2-2, 6.57 ERA) for the first time.
Floyd, the fourth overall pick by the Phillies in the 2001 draft, has struggled at home this season, going 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .368 against him.
The right hander, 5-4 with a 6.61 ERA in his career, will make his first start against San Francisco. Floyd recorded a win in his last outing Sunday, allowing a run and six hits despite a season-high five walks in the Phillies’ 5-1 victory at Pittsburgh.
He will be opposed by Matt Cain (1-3, 5.28), making his sixth start of 2006. He faced Arizona on Sunday and took the loss after allowing four runs and five hits over six innings in an 8-2 defeat.
The Giants have been outscored 26-5 in Cain’s three losses this season.
The Phillies extended their winning streak to a season-high five games with a 6-3 victory over Atlanta on Thursday. Ryan Howard homered, had two sacrifice flies and drove in three runs for Philadelphia.
The Phillies have not won six in a row since June 7-12.
Philadelphia went 5-1 against San Francisco last season, including a three-game home sweep from May 31-June 2.