Only 81 hits until the next Barry Bonds commemoration. Don't ask why. Ask where.
The home run record holder probably won't be waddling in the San Francisco outfield next year, but someone will sign him. Bonds has a 1.073 OPS, which combines slugging percentage and on-base percentage. That leads everyone in baseball, Alex Rodriguez included.
Bonds, with 24, is tied for 13th in major-league home runs, and he and Milwaukee rookie Ryan Braun are the only players to hit at least 20 in fewer than 300 at bats. It doesn't even matter that the victims of home runs 754 through 757 were Rick VandenHurk, Clay Hensley, Mike Bacsik and Tim Redding. Managers fear him, and the apprehension spreads to the pitchers. This oblong fellow is the only player in baseball with more than 100 walks. At 43.
Bonds will be the designated hitter for some American League team next season. The Yankees come to mind. So does Detroit, with Bonds' favorite manager, Jim Leyland. One doubts it will be the Angels. But don't you have to make the call?
Bonds won't come cheap. Even this ballooned version of himself is making $15.8 million in base salary and is already costing the Giants $2.5 million in incentives, based on plate appearances. But you'd rather have Bonds than Sammy Sosa.
Bonds ranks 35th in all-time hits. Roberto Clemente is 23rd, with 3,000. Bonds, Derek Jeter (who needs 700) and Rodriguez (809) are the real candidates.
Bonds certainly has a better chance at 3,000 than he does at being spared all the concomitant moralizing. What will be the next chorus? His singles are going farther? He uses the human growth hormone to land pop flies in between the shortstop and left-fielder? Nothing would surprise.
Newspapers kept publishing, too. Even the New York Times, which ran this astonishing sentence: "His distorted immortality is lab made."
Must have been an evil chemist's basement that produced the lithe and explosive outfielder who won three MVP awards, beginning in 1990?
Must be a fairly terrific lab, considering all the verified drug cheats whose career home runs barely equal a good Bonds month.
Must be a groundbreaking lab indeed, to equip Bonds with the strike zone knowledge and the intelligence to hit all those home runs in a park where no Home Run Derby contestant, during the All-Star Game, managed to wham a baseball into McCovey Cove.
And, of course, no pitchers visited the same lab.
Another writer from Jayson Blair's and Judith Miller's alma mater drew the now-familiar link from whatever Bonds did to whatever Michael Vick did to whatever Tim Donaghy did, and lamented the lack of virtue in our sports culture.
This same ethicist was a member of the Harding Three — a trio of journalists, who, at the 1992 Winter Olympics, enlarged a photo of Tonya Harding's credential in order to steal her ID and hack into her e-mail account.
But it's not just the papers.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.