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On the Road with Bonds

The blog today comes to you live from Milwaukee, where the official renewal of the Barry Bonds Watch has taken place. Yes, we’ve been watching all year — longer than that obviously — but Bonds’ two-homer explosion in Chicago on Thursday signaled the beginning of the final assault. Most of the media members who are going to be on hand for No. 756 are on board now, and it’s going to be a circus for the Giants until this thing is done.

From what I can tell, the atmosphere among enemy fans is not nearly as poisonous as it was when I hit the road last year. I’ve seen far more signs supporting Bonds than I have those that are harping on his alleged steroid use. They still boo him, but not as loud or as visiously as seemed to be the case last season. The sense I get is that everybody wants this over with, and if they happen to see it, cool.

The mood in the clubhouse is quite different, for obvious reasons.One reliever was chirping loud last night, several other players privately voiced their disgust.

To a degree I can understand their viewpoint. The media is now enveloping their clubhouse like a herd of cows being led to slaughter. And at times, they seem to be as unmovable. I sidled up to the side of Bonds’ cubicle after the Giants’ 8-4 win last night to grab a decent spot amidst the herd. First, reliever Steve Kline relayed that Bonds wouldn’t talk. No movement from the media. Then a Giants spokesman said the same thing. Again, nothing.

Finally, Bonds came in, towel draped around him and shooed the mob away. Even then, they dispersed slowly. It’s a bit like when the teacher asks for a show of hands in math class, and not a soul raises his or her hand.

Bonds did chat at length before today’s game. Say this for him, he does have his moments. I spoke with him for about 10 minutes after the morning media horde had dispersed about all sorts of topics non-baseball, and he was perfectly pleasant.

Anyway, the Bonds Watch for me last year lasted 25 days. I don’t anticipate this one lasting quite that long, but you never know. Bonds has struck out and grounded out weakly to the pitcher in his first two at-bats today, and he was pretty awful last night. Hank Aaron’s record is safe for another day.

rhurd