Monday, October 21, 2002

Bonds keeps you awake 'till it's over




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        At one point early in Game 1 Saturday night, Tim McCarver said on TV, “This World Series seems like it's gotten here so quickly.” Compared to what, Timbo? The next Ice Age?

        The Anaheim Angels had five days off. The San Francisco Giants had four. Should we have started the games closer to the New Year? Good things come to those who wait. Boring things come to those who wait five days.

        Game 1, a nine-inning affair featuring a total of seven runs, took three hours and 44 minutes to play. If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep during the World Series, he'd miss the bottom of the third.

        Thank goodness for Barry Bonds.

        There is one overlording presence in this event, one participant so compelling, he'll have you up past midnight watching. It's Bonds, who hit 73 homers last year, and another in his first World Series at-bat.

        The best sports feats leave you laughing incredulously. You grin and shake your head like a bobblehead doll. It was like that in the second inning Saturday, when Bonds pulled a fastball 418 feet. (Another McCarver gem: Not two minutes earlier, he'd said the two starting pitchers were throwing so hard, nobody would be pulling them for a long while. Bonds' homer was followed by Troy Glaus' pulled shot in the bottom of the inning.)

        After his blast, Bonds did what he does: paused to admire it, flipped his bat imperiously and trotted around the bases with a blank expression. Oh. I hit it out? What did you expect?

        What else is there?

        What would this Series be without Bonds? The 38-year-old is the best player in the game right now. If he's not the best player ever, he's in the discussion. He's also surly and charming, candid and aloof, cursed by terrible efforts in previous postseasons and dogged by steroid rumors, though you won't hear that mentioned much now.

        Because baseball is too dull to be watched on its own merits, Fox has tried to enliven its broadcast with extraneous fill: The soft drink-sponsored FanCam was deadly, but not as bad as The Sounds of The Game features, many of which sounded like this:

        Coach: He's a good hitter.

        Pitcher: Yeah, he's a good hitter.

        Fox switches cameras constantly. Its shots were so tight Saturday, you could smell Jarrod Washburn's breath. TV used the same approach last year and the year before. We don't need to be close enough to see each of Joe Torre's nose hairs, all right?

        Leave it to Bonds to keep us awake. His presence is so overwhelming - will they pitch to him? Will he finally shine in October? Do you see the size of that guy's head? - it's possible to forget that the combined star power of the other 49 players couldn't light a dresser drawer.

        We don't like Bonds much. But he is who he is. He could have made a lot of friends and money being a phony. He chose not to. Good for him. Swing on, Barry. When you're at the plate, the Series is actually watchable. Without you, it's like watching dry paint dry.

        E-mail: pdaugherty@enquirer.com

       



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