Thursday, October 23, 2008 Updated: October 24, 9:19 PM ET
What if Bonds had thrown out Bream?
By Mark Simon ESPN.com
GAME 7, 1992 NLCS
Sid Bream's run beat the Pirates for the second straight year in the NLCS.
What happened: Braves pinch hitter Francisco Cabrera singled home two runs in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Braves a 3-2 win, and a 4-3 series victory over the Pirates.
But what if Barry Bonds, heeding, instead of ignoring the advice of Andy Van Slyke, had moved in a step, prior to Cabrera's swing, then thrown Sid Bream out at the plate, sending the game into extra innings?
Oh, we can imagine how a reputation would have changed that day. Let's say Bonds not only made the biggest defensive play of the game, then homered, as the second batter in the top of the 10th to put the Pirates into the World Series.
Maybe he becomes "Big Game Barry" instead of the guy who carried around the weight and pressures of postseason struggles for another decade.
Maybe he wins a World Series title that year, wills the 1993 Giants past the Braves in the final days of the season, and wins another. Maybe he has a huge postseason in 2000 and the Giants beat the Yankees in the World Series, then knock off the Angels for another title in 2002.
Maybe he becomes incredibly popular with his teammates, and becomes an icon to fans, not just in San Francisco, but all over the baseball world.
Maybe he and Andy Van Slyke become close friends.
Maybe wins, instead of home runs, become the central story of Bonds' career. His power numbers, stellar throughout, begin to dip slightly in 2001 as Bonds ages gracefully. He finishes with a robust 555 career home runs, but with four World Series titles, upon his retirement in 2007. Some say he might be the first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee.
We'll never know.