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Series Has Hollow Ring for Bonds

October 28, 2002

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ All Barry Bonds could do is watch the celebration.

No more glorious home runs.

No more trots around the bases.

No ring.

That’s what will be ringing in his ears all winter long, maybe for the rest of his career, maybe for the rest of his life.

He was the story of the Series. Walk to him? Pitch to him?

Anaheim couldn’t figure it out at times, but in the end, it was the Angels who set off fireworks, not Bonds.

He was close to invisible Sunday night in Anaheim’s 4-1 Game 7 victory over San Francisco. When he was noticed, it was for outfield play that came up short.

Bonds had a World Series matched perhaps by only Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson and Gene Tenace.

``It’s something I worked for forever,″ he said just after making it to the Series.

He failed to come through at key points, when he had the chance to grab the ring he’s talked about since he was a rookie. He double-clutched instead of coming up clutch.

He bobbled two balls in left field in the eighth inning of Game 6, making an error that helped Anaheim score the go-ahead run. And in the Angels’ key three-run third inning Sunday, he let David Eckstein’s soft liner drop for a single, batting the ball down with his throwing hand instead of trying for a diving catch.

He came into October with a postseason history more befitting a scrub than a star, with one homer, six RBIs and a .196 average in 97 at-bats.

But that choker tag around his neck remains. He swatted 1,800 feet of home runs against the Angels, hit a record eight homers in the postseason, but still couldn’t belt the loser image away.

``The guy to me, Bonds, has been the most dominant from what I’ve seen in 35 years of watching major league baseball,″ Jackson said before Sunday night’s game. ``I haven’t seen anybody do what Bonds has done the last two years.″

But Jackson is wearing a ring and Bonds is not. At 38, Bonds may never get to the Series again.

Since Bonds came to the majors in 1986, he’s been a hero to some, an antihero to others.

``Barry was happy as heck after it was decided we’d come to the World Series,″ Giants manager Dusty Baker said. ``A lot of people said he seemed very stoic and distant. But who knows what’s going on on the inside of Barry? Yeah, I believe he’s having fun. Hard not to have fun when you’re hitting balls halfway to the moon.″

There was no way to overlook him in this Series. And Anaheim certainly tried to bypass him.

He was pitched to just once with a runner in scoring position. He walked 13 times, two more than the previous Series record shared by Ruth and Tenace. Seven of those were intentional, another mark.

But the Giants made Anaheim pay for the walks. He scored on three of them, including two of the free passes. Of the 112 pitches he saw in the Series, just 39 were strikes. He swung just 25 times.

``I can only swing at what I can hit,″ he said. ``If I can’t hit it, I don’t swing at it.″

When he did connect with his 34-inch black maple bat, the ball went a long way. He was batted .471 (8-for-17), with four homers and two doubles.

He homered in his first at-bat of the opener, then put a 485-foot shot halfway up Edison Field’s bleachers against Troy Percival in Game 2, and he connected again in Game 3. He hit another bomb in Game 6 off Francisco Rodriguez, and pumped his arm like Kirk Gibson as he started his trot.

His 1.294 slugging percentage broke Tenace’s 1972 record of .913 for a seven-game Series. and was third for the overall mark behind Gehrig (1.727) and Ruth (1.375) in the Yankees’ four-game sweep of 1928.

He reached on 21 of 30 plate appearances, his .700 on-base percentage breaking the record of .625 for a seven-game Series, set by Johnny Lindell of the 1947 Yankees, but shy of Billy Hatcher’s overall mark of .800 in Cincinnati’s four-game sweep in 1990.

Bonds may have had an incredible season, winning his first batting title with a .370 average, walking a record 198 times, receiving a record 68 intentional passes and breaking Ted Williams’ 1941 on-base percentage with a .582 mark, but it wasn’t as memorable as 2001, when he set the home run record with 73.

Bonds has 613 homers, just 142 short of Hank Aaron’s record. But Giants owner Peter Magowan, who signed Bonds in December 1992, said the winning was more important to Bonds than all the records.

``I think he would be happy if he went 0-for-16 and we won the World Series,″ Magowan said Saturday. ``I think he’d be happier than if he went 16-for-16 and we lost the World Series.″

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