My wife and I were ten rows behind the Giants dugout Saturday night and watched Cole Hammels pitch a gem. Then Barry Bonds and Pat Burrell: A contrast in their approach to hitting. Bonds rarely takes a called strike. He can't afford to, he doesn't get many balls he can hit. And when he does, he unleashes a short, compact, vicious left handed swing. Like every muscle has been programed for years to speak in unison. Like a snap of your finger.
He stands in, veins bulging in his neck, ready to unleash and drive a ball--anything close--on a beebe line drive. Even when he pulls it foul into the seats along the first base line, it's like a shot from a 30 oh six. Fans scatter in horror.
Burrell on the other hand, takes called strikes like aspirin after a night of binge drinking. It doesn't matter to him...he pops them in as he stands in nonchalantly with the air that he'll get another shot, and another shot, until that big contract runs out next season. In his first plate appearance, he took two called strikes, the second for the out. I glanced at my wife, who sadly shook her head.
It's embarrassing, depressing; so much talent, so much hope, and he makes an awkward swing, or stands there frozen with the bat on his shoulder, then walks, with head slightly down, back to the dugout. Boos move about the Park like annoying flies.
While so many losers, there for the sole reason of booing the soon to be home run king, yell wildly like he stole one of their children in the dark of night. I watched maybe a dozen or so, between us and the dugout, go crazy when Bonds stroll to the place. They came but for one reason.
"Cheater," they shouted, "Fen' cheater. You suck Bonds, you're a pile of sh__."
It's more than steroids. It's race. No doubt in my mind. A chance to yellobscenities’at a black man without repercussions. They prided each other on who could yell the loudest, who could yell the meanest, ho could yell the drunkest. I thought for a minute, what Jackie Robinson might have heard. I bet much the same. The same kind of losers crap, night after night, just like Bonds. You want to teach a kid what Robinson endured? Take him to a game in Philly when the Giants are in town.
But then all that went away when he took that vicious, short swing, almost as if he was swinging at them. Like a mouse trap snapping. It's a special sound when he makes contact with the ball. This man doesn't take called strikes. He's a hitter like no one I'll ever see again.
The opposite of Burrell.