Golden Gait: Bonds' Footprint All Over All-Star Game
An All-Star Game in the city by the bay and Barry Bonds doesn't show up? Not a chance.
"I'm at a loss for words right now," Bonds told reporters after being elected as a National League starter.
Bonds already had planned a party for the big event, and now he will have a week of celebrating (by hometown fans) and interrogation (by a horde of media).
Somebody on the Giants had to be the representative host, as rules dictate, so it might as well be the biggest Giant of all, and that has nothing to do with the size of his suit or head.
It took a last-minute push by the Giants to get Bonds elected as a starter for the 78th All-Star Game (Web site) in San Francisco July 10, when the city hosts its first Midsummer Classic since 1984, and the first at the jewel of China Basin, AT&T Park (24 Willie Mays Plaza, Web site). For the schedule of All-Star Week activities, click here.
It's not called the Midsummer Classic
The MLB All-Star Game has always been a fan fave and
Take a tour of the last several All-Star Games by clicking on our latest Travel photo gallery, where you'll spy everyone from Garciaparra to Jeter, A-Rod to Ichiro, and Pujols to Bonds himself.
Bonds who at 751 homers is five shy of passing Hank Aaron's all-time record trailed by more than 100,000 votes last week but finished with 2,325,391 votes to get past Chicago Cub Alfonso Soriano's 2,202,513 as a starting outfielder. Bonds, playing his 14th All-Star Game, did not finish in the top five in NL voting by players, however.
Thus is the polarizing power of the Giants' left fielder. Never has someone with so much talent been so generally disliked, dating to his college days at Arizona State and being dubbed the "Most Despised Pirate" when he played in Pittsburgh.
"I thought I played good enough to make the team but didn't think I would start," Bonds told reporters. "This is great. I'm having a big ol' party Monday, so it'll be fun. I just can't say thanks enough to the fans in San Francisco."
Certainly less-deserving stars than Bonds (.304 average, 40 RBIs, 84 walks) have played in the Midsummer Classic when their numbers did not dictate All-Star seasons (perhaps most memorably in recent years the 2001 All-Star Game, when Cal Ripken Jr. homered and won the game's MVP).
Stars such as Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees) and Vladimir Guerrero (Los Angeles Angels) will try to continue the American League's 10-year unbeaten streak against young stars Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers), Jose Reyes (New York Mets) and the rest of the best of the National League. Milwaukee and New York each have four All-Stars.
The defending AL champion Detroit Tigers placed three starters on the team and will have five total, as will Boston.
What should be a coronation for Bonds, who turns 43 on July 24, is more a castigation by those out of view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
For better or worse, Bonds represents the steroids-fueled era. And although he has never tested positive by baseball standards, the circumstantial evidence sends a chill through the game whenever his name is mentioned. The fog hanging around AT&T Park is Bonds' ever-looming cloud of doubt as far as much of the baseball world is concerned.
"If there is a superstar or a milestone that is really pertinent, normally that player will participate" in the All-Star Game, said Mark Fainaru-Wada, the San Francisco Chronicle reporter and co-author of "Game of Shadows," which alleges Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs.
"If you look at the accomplishments of Barry from the outside it's, 'How could he not participate?' I think that he's not an automatic speaks volumes about the situation."
"He's just not a beloved figure (around baseball) and a lot of it is his own fault," said Jerry Crasnick, who covers baseball for ESPN Insider. "You wish he could reach out a tenth of the way."
Most agreed that no matter how much Bonds is generally despised, you have to admire his baseball skill.
They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.
The only bad thing about winning the pennant is that you have to manage the All-Star Game the next year. I'd rather go fishing for three days.
He's (Willie Stargell) such a big, strong guy he should love that porch (in Tiger Stadium). He's got power enough to hit home runs in any park, including Yellowstone.
If I ain't startin', I am departin'.
I think the National League has better biorhythms in July.
It's right up there with lobster.
"Barry's always been a really odd individual," said Rick Hurd, a columnist for the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, Calif. "I've dealt with him at times where he can be the most charming individual, and at other times I've seen him treat people the way you wouldn't want your worst enemy to be treated.
"Everything he has had is because of baseball, yet he doesn't feel a need to give back to the game."
Bonds got an up-close dose of what might happen in the All-Star Game or in coming weeks as he pursues Aaron. In the seventh inning of San Francisco's home game with Arizona on Friday night, a fan hopped the fence along the left field line and ran out to greet the slugger. Bonds said the fan only wanted to shake his hand and added, "There is no reason for me to be in fear."
"There are a great number of fans who just pretend the steroid use doesn't exist or they don't care about it," said Lance Williams, co-author of "Game of Shadows" and an investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.
The impact to the San Francisco Bay Area for All-Star Week is expected to be enormous. Since 1999, the All-Star Game has had an economic impact of at least $50 million each year in the host city. This year should be even better.
"We expect more than 100,000 visitors (15,000 total room nights) with an overall economic impact of $65 million," said Tanya Houseman of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In all, Houseman said 200,000 to 250,000 people are expected to attend All-Star activities.
Since 2003, the league that wins the game ensures its World Series representative enjoys home-field advantage, giving All-Star squads extra incentive.
The All-Star Game itself is sold out (consult StubHub! for tickets), but there are myriad ways for fans to get involved in the accompanying festivities.
This All-Star Game, with the exception of the constant questioning of Bonds, will likely be remembered as the one played nearest water.
Bonds is synonymous with McCovey Cove and his splashy home runs into San Francisco Bay. Bonds has 34 of the Giants' 44 splash hits into McCovey Cove, a part of the bay just beyond right field.
He won the 1996 Home Run Derby and also participated in the annual bash fest in 1992, 1993, 2001, 2002 and 2004. However, Bonds has made it clear he won't be participating in the Derby this go-round.
"Nope," Bonds said Thursday when asked about the Derby, the Associated Press reports. "Especially when you're 42. It's not that you don't want to, it's that you just can't anymore. You can't. It's too long. Too much waiting. Too much sitting around. You can't do that."
You can't do that?
Maybe Bonds can't. But we're betting many folks would jump at the chance to wait and sit around just to see Bonds play perhaps his final All-Star Game, in his home city.
Tony Guadagnoli, a free-lance writer from western Washington, recently drove across the Golden Gate Bridge four times just to get a different view.
• FanFest at Moscone West Convention Center, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (See FanFest details below.)
• FanFest at Moscone West Convention Center, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
• FanFest at Moscone West Convention Center, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
• All-Star Week Sponsor Zone at AT&T Park/Terry Francois Boulevard, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
• Futures Game (seven innings), 1:07 p.m.
• Celebrity Softball Game (five innings), following Futures Game (approximately 4 p.m.)
• FanFest at Moscone West Convention Center, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
• All-Star Week Sponsor Zone at AT&T Park/Terry Francois Boulevard, 1-9 p.m.
• MLB Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals, 1-2 p.m.
• National League batting practice, 2:30-3:25 p.m.
• American League batting practice, 3:25-4:20 p.m.
• All-Star balloting top vote-getter awards, 4:50 p.m.
• Home Run Derby, 5 p.m.
• FanFest at Moscone West Convention Center, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
• All-Star Game Red Carpet Show from Pier 30/32 to AT&T Park, noon-1 p.m.
• All-Star Week Sponsor Zone at AT&T Park/Terry Francois Boulevard
• NL batting practice, 2-2:55 p.m.
• NL team photo, 2:55-3:05 p.m.
• AL team photo, 3:05-3:15 p.m.
• AL batting practice, 3:20-4:15 p.m.
• Pregame ceremony, 5 p.m.
• Player introductions, 5:13-5:23 p.m.
• National anthems (Canadian, U.S.), 5:29 p.m.
• Ceremonial first pitch, 5:33 p.m.
• First pitch, 5:42 p.m.
FanFest is the world's largest interactive baseball fan event. It allows families and fans of all ages to experience the thrills, excitement and rich history of Major League Baseball with an extensive array of exhibits, attractions, baseball clinics and seminars, autograph sessions, live entertainment, memorabilia and more. It is expected to attract more than 110,000 fans.
• Moscone West Convention Center, 747 Howard St., San Francisco (Web site)
• Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday through Monday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
• $22 for adults, and $17 for children ages 12 and younger, senior citizens and military personnel. Children under 2 years of age are free.
• FanFest Auction (first floor) Babe Ruth's game-used, autographed bat from the 1923 World Series (with an estimated value of more than $150,000) and Willie Mays' 1958 Giants home jersey ($30,000 to $40,000) are two of many big-ticket items to be auctioned off.
• Hometown Heroes (first floor) A tribute to the history of baseball in San Francisco. There will be a timeline tracing the history of the Giants' franchise from New York to San Francisco.
• National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (first floor) Seven traveling cases from Cooperstown, N.Y., will be on display here. Five will focus on general baseball history and feature gloves, hats, uniforms and other memorabilia. The two others will relate specifically to the history of the Giants franchise and memorable moments from its time in San Francisco.
• The Negro Leagues (first floor) Replica hats, jerseys, lockers and more will be displayed in this exhibit dedicated to a league that rose in prominence in the 1880s and lasted until 1951. Blacks were prohibited from playing in Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson crossed the color barrier in 1947, and bios and information on Negro League legends including Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and James "Cool Papa" Bell will provide insight for fans.
So you want the chance to snag a splash hit in McCovey Cove. Just grab a kayak and paddle into the area, right? Not exactly.
The U.S. Coast Guard and San Francisco Police Department will establish a safe zone in McCovey Cove during all All-Star event at AT&T Park July 7 through July 10. A limited number of pre-screened official vessels, including ferries, law enforcement and media vessels will be permitted to enter the security zone.
Public access to the security zone will be limited to human-powered watercraft, 20 feet or less in length (including kayaks and canoes); the number of such watercraft will be limited for security purposes. All watercrafts must be registered with the San Francisco Giants. Individuals will not be allowed to enter the water directly from the shores of McCovey Cove. More information can be found at this Web site.
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