SAN FRANCISCO – Back in the City by the Ba(rr)y, among his fans and old familiarities, Barry Bonds might begin to rethink the relative hardships of Nos. 755 and 756.
In his first home crack at hitting the home run no one has ever hit, Bonds didn't drive the ball out of the infield in four plate appearances, meaning Hank Aaron has another day to change his mind and come sit in the chill.
In seven plate appearances since he arrived at Aaron, Bonds has walked four times. Of the 33 pitches he's seen, 11 have been strikes.
They're not lining up to throw The One.
Washington Nationals rookie John Lannan faced Bonds four times and generally pitched behind in the count, but had Bonds foul out in the first, ground into a double play in the fifth and strike out – on a nasty full-count curveball – in the seventh. He walked him in the third.
It wasn't what Bonds had in mind several hours earlier, when he walked into the clubhouse with his 17-year-old son, Nikolai, looked across a swarm of reporters and sighed, "Hopefully I can have a peaceful day today."
Bonds was removed as part of a double switch after he struck out, having received a solid seven innings of Bay love. The Giants won, 3-2, in 11 innings, but few in the sellout crowd stayed until the end.
Speaking before the game, Giants executive vice president Larry Baer described Bonds' allure here as a well-rooted San Francisco thing.
"It's just going to be a very proud moment to have one of the greatest achievements in sports be done in a San Francisco Giants uniform," he said. "This is a big deal for Giants fans and Barry Bonds fans too."
Oftentimes, the celebrations of Bonds have had the feel of a private party, 33 years after much of the nation rejoiced over Aaron passing Babe Ruth.
"It's interesting, because we've not been around the country," Baer said. "You just focus on the experience here as much as you can. We know all the issues out there and we know those issues won't be solved as he approaches 756. … We have to stay loyal to that celebration. That's our job."
Bonds testified before a federal grand jury investigating BALCO nearly four years ago that he did not knowingly take steroids. A second grand jury is hearing evidence Bonds perjured himself in that testimony. Bonds reportedly is also being investigated for tax evasion.
"Anybody who thinks this is an easy issue and devoid of complexity is not seeing it clearly," Baer said. "In the end, it is less complex here. … He was in diapers in a Giants clubhouse. That explains some of the depth of feeling for him."
These are issues not dwelt upon by pitchers such as Lannan, a 22-year-old left-hander who began the season in the Class-A Carolina League and was making his third big-league start, or left-hander Mike Bacsik, who will start Tuesday night for the Nationals.
Lannan tried not to be swept away by the stir and flashbulbs, and finished Bonds' night by chasing a 3-and-1 fastball with a 3-and-2 curveball, both of which Bonds missed.
"Fortunately, he swung through that 3-1 pitch and set up the curveball," Lannan said.
So he hands the ball – and the moment – to Bacsik.
"I want to go after him, but I'm also not going to lay one in there," Bacsik said. "I don't think Barry wants a freebie. If he hits it, fine, great, I'll be part of history forever. But I'm not going to give it to him."