Monday, July 30, 2007

The Bonds HR Tour Goes South

Now that the Bonds Home Run Tour moves down the coast to Los Angeles, and then on to San Diego, sportswriters and fans are all asking the same question – how will Barry be treated by the fans in both cities? Bonds still needs one dinger to tie Henry Aaron, and then another one to claim the record as his very own.

"This is going to be a test," said Giants outfielder Dave Roberts, who spent about 2½ seasons with the Dodgers, "whether they're going to show their knowledge, appreciation and love for the game -- like they are passionate for the game -- or are they going to go the other way?"

I'm guessing Bonds and Dodger Stadium security personnel had better be prepared for "the other way." Dodgers’ fans aren't real fond of the Giants, with or without Bonds. The home run quest only adds more tension to an already heated rivalry.

Roberts really surprises me with his ignorant comments. The man has played for both the Giants and the Dodgers, so he must know that Dodger fans are a class act compared to the Giants fans. SF fans are boorish, rude, obnoxious and really offensive when it comes to the SF-LA rivalry. Dodger fans are much more laid-back and reserved. They enjoy their baseball, but they’re not willing to get into a fist fight over it and possibly mess up some really expensive plastic surgery.

Roberts knows this, but he’s just trying to put a pro-SF spin on it.

My question is – how do you think Giants fans would act if the situation were reversed? If say, Jeff Kent was going for the record, how would SF fans react? Well, I’ll tell you – they’d boo the man from the first inning on, without mercy. Extra security would probably have to be hired, because Kent’s life would be in danger.

Bonds should be grateful that he’s not traveling to New York or Philadelphia to try and break the record. Those fans are hard core. LA and SD fans act like little kittens compared to those in the Big Apple and the City of Love.

Do you think Dodger fans will remember when the SF fans booed every one of the Dodgers all-star players just a few short weeks ago? Have they forgotten all of the “Beat LA” chants or all of the “Dodgers Suck” or “F the Dodgers” t-shirts and signs? I personally hope not.

"Be a part of history, but make it the great moment it is and don't tarnish it by acts of cruelty, or however you want to word it -- you know what I'm saying -- by throwing things, whatever they want to do, if they choose to go that way," said Roberts, sounding like a public service announcement. "Be above that. [The home run record is] bigger than being a Dodger fan. It's bigger than rooting against a divisional rival. It's the game of baseball. It's the history of baseball, so be above that. That's what I would do."

That's what Roberts the teammate, Roberts the friend and Roberts the professional peer would do. But that's not what a lot of people at Chavez Ravine are going to do Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Too many cynics. Too many skeptical fans who consider Aaron's record their record too.

Maybe Bonds doesn't understand this, but Roberts does. He doesn't criticize those who doubt the legitimacy of Bonds' home run numbers. How could he?

"But you can't take away the fact that he's one of the greatest players ever to put on a baseball uniform," Roberts said. "He's had a 20-year career which is a Hall of Fame career and ... when I see kids in the stands booing and holding signs, and [they] really have no idea what they're booing or holding signs for, it breaks my heart. As a father, I would never bring that upon my kids. I would say, 'Son, watch this guy. He's one of the best players of all time.'

I predict that fans in both LA and San Diego will boo Bonds lustily and often. And, in my opinion, he deserves it. He’s been treating fans and writers like second-class citizens from day one, and now it’s pay back time, baby!

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