Bonds proven to be a big-time player in the postseason

Emily Arthur

Two games have been played. Two teams have earned wins. But only one player has made this season’s World Series his.

Last season Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs and was invited to throw out the first pitch in the World Series. This season, he broke records, won games and has taken the Giants to within three wins of the championship.

Although he may be volatile, selfish and hard to be around, it’s hard to argue with numbers. And the numbers the outfielder put up this season prove he’s the best player ever to play the game of baseball.

Bonds led the National League this season with a .370 batting average and had an all-time record on-base percentage of .582 — 132 points higher than second-place Brian Giles of Pittsburgh.

He also broke the walk record, drawing a free base 198 times — 68 of which were intentional (breaking the old record by 23). In comparison, the Angels, the team the Giants are playing in the World Series, issued just 24 intentional walks this season.

Bonds has become the main attraction in major league baseball. You can’t pick up a newspaper these days without seeing his name, and the big debate in the World Series hasn’t centered on who will win, the Angels or the Giants, but rather “will the Angels pitch to Bonds?”

“If the situation dictates, and you like the matchup, you lean toward going after Barry,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before game one,” Other times, you have to use discretion.”

The Angels would have been better off using some more discretion in Game 1. They went right at Bonds, and he responded by hitting a home run in his first at-bat.

In game two, Bonds saw only two strikes in his first three at-bats and watched 11 consecutive balls go across the plate without taking a swing.

The three at-bats?

They all resulted in walks.

And when the Angels finally pitched to him in the ninth, Bonds hit a home run.

The criticism against Bonds coming into the season was how the slugger had performed in the postseason — or rather how he hadn’t. Even if the Giants don’t win the World Series this season, Bonds has proved that he’s a big-time player in the postseason as well. The other criticism against Bonds centers around his personality.

Coaches, players and even the media have criticized him for being a bad teammate and for his reluctance to talk to the press, but does that really have anything to do with playing baseball?

Bonds gets paid to do his job and his job is to play. And really, no one has done it better this year.

He’s even helped eliminate some of the stress and pressure on the field.

“He takes a lot of pressure off the rest of us,” Giants reliever Tim Worrell said. “Everything is Barry, all the time … But we don’t mind. Keep doing that. The more they zero in on him, there ain’t no pressure on us.”

Bonds doesn’t seem to be feeling the pressure either. He’s just enjoying not being labeled as a choker in the postseason. No one in history has ever played in more games before finally reaching the World Series.

“It’s something I’ve worked for forever,” Bonds said.

Maybe now he’ll get the respect — as a player, not a person — he deserves.

Emily Arthur

is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Clark, S.D. She is the sports editor of the Daily.