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Hang them up, Barry

Daily file photoChris FreudOn baseball
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I watch my San Francisco Giants on the dish all the time. I know Barry doesnt have the bat speed anymore. His brilliant batting eye has wandered often this year. Heaven help us if a ball is hit to left field. He can hit a bit, but I dont know why teams are still walking him.Despite all of this, I was happy to have him as a Giant still for all the warts and all the baggage until Wednesday night.Down at Coors Field, I watched Barry smack a single through The Bonds Shift. Good. Then with two out, Ray Durham crushed a ball off the center-field wall 415 feet away from the plate. I was waving Barry around third. Giants third-base coach Gene Glynn rightly put on the brakes.Huh?Goodbye, Barry. Hang them up. He cant play in the National League. I cant see why an American League team would pick him up as a designated hitter. Hes hitting all of .246 with 11 homers and you still have to run the bases as a DH. Cant score from first with two outs on a long drive to center? Call it a career.Bonds has equaled the low point of his godfathers career. This was Willie Mays missing a routine fly ball in the 1973 World Series against the Oakland Athletics.The Giants cant trade him. Releasing him would be graceless. Time to schedule Barry Bonds Day for the final weekend of the season in San Francisco (as coincidence would have it against the hated Dodgers), retire No. 25 and call it quits.

Freak showFor all the sermons on how he is bad for baseball, Bonds still turns the turnstiles. Wednesday, 23,000 and change were at Coors to see him strike out or to watch him hit a ball to Greeley. Yes, it was an important game in the dreadful NL West, but everything turned up a notch anytime Bonds came to the plate.Whats disturbing is that hes justifiably no longer feared. Its one thing if the crowd is booing Bonds because hes beaten their team senseless game after game. Delighting in the fact that Bonds meekly pops out to third or can barely get to a ball hit in his direction is another.Though he compares better statistically, this compares to Babe Ruths stint with the Boston Braves or Mays with the Mets. Hes there for the attendance, especially at AT&T Park in San Francisco.The Giants record is surprisingly better with Bonds in the lineup primarily because pitchers still walk him. But hes barely helping the team. He can hardly hit and thats his best asset.Whats more he become an undisputed liability to the franchise. Theres Bonds and everyone else. Say San Francisco Giants to anyone and the conversation immediately turns to Bonds and steroids. Though theyve not won the Series since 1954, the Giants are one of baseballs most historic franchises. When you say Giants, you should think of McGraw, Mathewson, Mays, McCovey, Marichal and Bobby Thomson, not syringes.Why?One of the things that puzzles me most about Bonds is why he allegedly started on steroids. Taking the accounts of Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams in Game of Shadows, Bonds began taking performance-enhancing drugs before the 1999 season.The two speculate that Bonds was jealous of the attention that Mark McGwire, in particular, received for hitting 70 home runs the year before. Sadly, it seems that Bonds ego got the best of him.What rankles me is that he didnt need to do it. Going into the 1999 season, Bonds had 401 home runs, 400-plus stolen bases, three MVPs and a host of Gold Gloves. Its not a huge leap to think that Bonds, without drugs, would have hit another 100 home runs in the six seasons from 1999-2004.After all, hes on a 20-homer pace this year as hes being held together with duct tape and wire. A hundred homers, and thats conservative, would still have put him in the 500-500 club, and made him an automatic first-ballot Hall of Famer. Even if Bonds career had stopped for some reason after 1998, he was in the Hall.Giants fans love Barry because hes been the show in San Francisco for 13 years now. We should also love him even more for the player he was before the steroids. When he came to Candlestick in 1993, he could smash the ball with the best of them. He was lightning on the base paths. He could carry a team.My favorite memories of Barry are buying bleacher seats for $4.50 in left field and just watching him run down everything in sight. First to home on a double? Piece of cake.Thats what I want to remember about Bonds. not some broken-down player getting the stop sign at third. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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