10/15/2002 03:24 am ET
Barry meaningful night for Bonds
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was the morning after the Giants clinched a berth in the playoffs and Barry Bonds was in one of those moods.
More often than not, Bonds chooses not to speak to the media, feeling he has little to gain and everything to lose by doing so. But on this
particular Sunday morning, Bonds was talkative. He had one rule and it was simple. No stupid questions.
With that in mind, the small contingent of Bay Area media peppered the Giants' outfielder with questions about getting to the postseason
again and of his past October failures. Much of the conversation centered on how to beat the Braves and what it takes to succeed in the
playoffs. And then, Bonds was asked about how he will be remembered.
"My legacy will be what it is regardless," he said. "Whatever you guys say it's going to be. Great player. Didn't win a World Series. Whatever.
It's your opinions. Not mine."
Indeed, the adjectives that have been used to describe Bonds have ran the gamut from moody to magnificent, arrogant to amazing, selfish
to stupendous. Yet the one word never used before his name was champion.
For the first time in his 17-year big-league career, Bonds has led his team to the National League championship and the World Series, where his Giants will face
the Anaheim Angels beginning Saturday.
"I feel I need a day so I can explain to everyone how I'm really feeling," he said after Monday night's 2-1 victory assured that Bonds will never
again be looked upon as unable to win the big one.
Whether or not San Francisco wins the World Series, Bonds has guided his team there with a solid postseason on the heels of what will
likely become his unprecedented fifth MVP season. After clinching the Wild Card spot, Bonds barely cracked a smile. When his underdog
team got past the Braves in the Division Series, he refused to be outwardly happy. Monday night, he wore the same stoic look that has so
often characterized one the game's greatest players ever.
"I've been in these parties before," he said. "I've been in Division parties before and they didn't last long."
It was typical Bonds. Only a select few ever get to know what's inside of him.
"He ain't hiding nothing," said manager Dusty Baker after the victory. "He just ain't going to let you in there. He feels the same way we all feel.
... It has to mean a lot. It means a lot to him and his father who never got to this place."
But his father, Bobby, who threw out the first pitch before Game 5, is just about the only person in Bonds' life who does not have a ring. His
godfather, Willie Mays, has one from the 1954 World Series, the last time the Giants won it all. His offseason workout partner and close
friend, Gary Sheffield, has one from the 1997 Fall Classic. Even his son, Nikolai, has won a championship, something Bonds has never
done at any level in his life.
"I want the World Series," he said back on that day he was discussing his legacy. "I don't care about this. I'm happy to be there. I said I'd be
back and I'm back. But I want a World Series ring."
Monday night, he did his best to make sure he'd have that chance. With his team trailing by a run against an almost unhittable Matt Morris,
Bonds hit a long fly ball that served as a sacrifice fly, driving in the breakthrough run off the Cardinals right-hander.
"It wasn't flashy but tonight he gets the RBI sacrifice fly that is going to go down in history," said Giants GM Brian Sabean. "He's got to come
[through] in that situation and he did. Everybody would like to have him hit a home run but in that case, all you needed to do was tie the
"The level of concentration with him, it never ceases to amaze me."
After setting the single-season home run record last season, hitting his 600th career home run this season and knocking any proverbial
monkeys off his back during the postseason, nothing he does amazes anyone around him.
"What he's been doing his whole career and especially the last two years, it's been amazing to watch," said Monday night's starting pitcher
Kirk Rueter. "I'm just glad I haven't had to pitch to him."
That task falls to the Angels' pitching staff, few of which have ever faced the game's fourth greatest power hitter ever. But that will just add to
the hype of the series.
"That's where all great players belong," said Baker of the future Hall of Famer. "Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky -- they've all been here
before. Why not Barry?"
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.