The next time you’re at AT&T Park, and he steps to the plate, take a look around. Take in the moment, the jolt of electricity that pulsates through the place. There aren’t that many left.
The next time he twitches that bat the way he does, then swings, and sends a ball soaring over the fence, enjoy the flight to its fullest. The sound of it. Put the memory alongside all the others he’s given us. It may be the last one of its kind.
We’ve come to the final act in the greatest baseball show off Broadway, and when we reach the halfway point in the Giants’ schedule this evening in San Diego, it’s the perfect time to take stock of Barry Bonds and all he’s meant to the Bay Area.
He’s old. He’s a shell of his former self, but he does have a few swings left in that bat of his. He’s given Giants fans the greatest ride they’ve had since Willie Mays roamed center field for ’em. All that’s left is for the Giants to squeeze the last drops from his once-endless pool of talent.
And it looks as if the Giants are going to come up thirsty when it comes to championships during the Bonds era. Aside from a sweep of the Texas Rangers this week, thanks to one of the worst line calls since a John McEnroe match, the Giants are up a little, down a little. Nothing more, nothing less.
They’ve given us no indication they’ll be able to ride what has been one of the strongest starting rotations in the National League into the postseason. And it’s not Barry’s fault. He’s out there every game he can be, giving it all he’s got left.
The Giants have been playing the past month down at least one starting position player, sometimes two and, on a really bad day, three. It’s not Peter Magowan, Brian Sabean or Felipe Alou, but Father Time who has sapped this Giants team of whatever potential it may have possessed.
The health of this old team just hasn’t held up. Oh, it was a long shot to begin with, but the Giants took the best swing they could at this season. I hope I’m wrong, but 81 games into this one, they don’t look like a team able to sustain the kind of run they would need to get into the playoffs.
And there seems little Barry can do it affect the Giants’ course. The legs have given out, like they do on all of the great ones. He’ll turn 42 this month, and despite the greatest run a baseball player has had in a city since Cal Ripken retired in Baltimore, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to believe he’ll be in a Giants uniform when he turns 43.
So, we have 81 games left, with 38 of ’em at AT&T Park, to enjoy the Bonds show up to its final curtain. Make the most of it. It’s been the best baseball has had to offer.
And we’ll miss Barry when he’s gone, so make sure and enjoy him while he’s still in a Giants uniform.
NOW THAT I’VE GOT YOUR ATTENTION: The NBA draft is no longer relevant. No more than a handful of the players this week will help the teams that chose to make them millionaires. Today’s professional game of basketball is too much for the inexperienced to make a difference while he’s learning. It truly is a man’s game.
Tim Liotta hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).