Bring on Barry Bonds.
That’s right, I’m ready to face the soon-to-be seven-time MVP, he of the third-most home runs in the history of the game.
I can’t throw strikes, I haven’t played baseball in ten years and happen to be in a wheelchair, but the beauty of pitching to Barry is that none of that matters.
When it comes to pitching to Barry you can throw all your logic and statistics straight into the trash alongside your Alex Rodriguez “Mariner for life” t-shirt.
Over the weekend, in the final series of the season with their playoff fate hinging on the outcome of the games, Dodger pitchers were so afraid they only threw four pitches close enough to the plate that Barry deemed them worth swinging at – only four swings in ten at-bats, only four swings in three entire games. To put that in perspective, Northwest folk-hero and newly-crowned single season-hits leader Ichiro took four swings in his final at-bat on Sunday.
Instead of challenging Bonds, the Dodgers did what nearly every team has done to Barry this year: walked him. In the three game series, Dodger pitchers were so afraid of number 25 they walked him seven out of the ten times he came to the plate, twice officially intentionally and four times unofficially intentionally.
The free passes pushed his season totals to 120 intentional walks and 232 total walks and broke the all-time records in both categories set two years ago by one Mr. Barry Lamar Bonds.
The second highest intentional walk total this year? 26. Barry alone had twice as many intentional walks as every team in baseball other than the Cardinals (he was eight shy of that distinction).
If you started pacing off the distance of Barry’s 232 free passes from Portland State, over 2.5 miles later, you would end up near Beaverton.
If Barry had made an out every time he wasn’t walked, he still would have had a higher on-base percentage than the $250 million dollar man and reigning American League MVP Alex Rodriguez.
Barry gets walked so much an uninitiated viewer might wonder if BB, the statistical abbreviation for a walk (base on balls), had been named after Barry himself.
The most amazing thing is, that as ridiculous as the Godlike respect paid to a 40-year-old man may seem, after watching Bonds effortlessly flick the opposing pitchers’ best pitches into distant, uncharted regions of ballparks across the nation, you’d be hard pressed to argue with opposing managers who do everything but pitch to him.
This is where I come in.
Like the left-handed “specialists” managers used to bring in just to pitch to Barry, I’d be on the team only to face Bonds.
Whenever Barry started towards the batter’s box, my team’s manager would step onto to the field, look to the bullpen and tap his right arm with confidence, knowing that I was on the way.
As the hushed crowd frantically prepared their cameras in expectation of my imminent confrontation, I’d casually make my way from the bullpen to the pitchers mound, making sure to give Barry my best stink-eye, to let him know that I, for one, will not be intimidated.
I’d take the ball from my manager, look him in the eyes and say, “I got this one.”
After coach had left the mound, I’d glare right through Barry to get the signs from my catcher.
I’d nod – not so much to tell my catcher I understood the signs, as to tell Barry it was on.
I’d wind up and then I’d throw.
Four balls later, Barry would be safely on first and coach would come out to the mound to congratulate me.
“You done good, kid.”
What? You didn’t think I was actually going to pitch to him did you?
I’m not crazy.