Dickey: Giants' one one (and only) choice is Barry

The Giants will have only one All-Star representative, deservedly so, and that player should be Barry Bonds.

Bonds is the logical choice for three reasons:

» He’s nearing the record for career home runs. At one point, it seemed he might break the record before the July 10 All-Star Game. That’s unlikely now, but the consensus among local media people to whom I’ve talked recently is that he’ll do it before he turns 43 on July 24.

» The game will be played at AT&T Park and, because the Giants tied All-Star Game tickets into season-ticket purchases, the crowd will be predominantly Giants fans.

Baseball fans elsewhere may scorn Bonds, but those coming to Giants home games love him. When he came to bat with the bases loaded in a tie game against the New York Yankees on Saturday, fans all over the park came to their feet screaming, “Bar-ry! Bar-ry! Bar-ry!” It was just another game in the Giants’ inexorable march to a 90-loss season but it felt like the World Series.

» Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time, certainly the best hitter I’ve seen in 50 years of following baseball, and deserves to be in the game.

In my younger days, it was a given that the best players would be in the All-Star Game, even if they weren’t having their best seasons. Year after year, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were in the National League lineup, even if they were hitting .230 at the break.

The All-Star Game has lost much of its luster since then. With interleague play and so many games televised, it’s no longer a novelty for a fan from an American League city to see a National League player or vice versa. There isn’t the competition between leagues that there once was, leading commissioner Bud Selig to put in that ridiculous rule that the league which wins the All-Star Game hosts four of the seven World Series games.

But it should still be a game of true All-Stars. Sure, a young player such as Prince Fielder, who is leading the NL in home runs and RBIs, should be included. But so should a larger-than-life player like Bonds.

Bonds deserves it on his play this season. He is still a much feared hitter, leading the league in intentional walks by a sizable margin. He is hitting home runs at a rate of about one per 12 at-bats, a percentage few hitters in history have matched.

He has even been surprisingly frisky in the field and on the bases. He stole a base against the Yankees on Sunday and also went from first to third on a single to right. He has made some good defensive plays, including a catch against the wall of a Jason Kendall drive in the final game of the A’s-Giants interleague series. Though much was made of the fact that he sat out the first game of the series against the Mets in New York, he has played in 69 of the Giants’ 75 games, playing some as a pinch-hitter. Only Randy Winn (72) and Omar Vizquel (70) have played in more.

This will be Bonds’ last season and he deserves to go out as an All-Star in a game played in the park in which he has given fans so many great moments.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.


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