Bonds Feels the Love in San Francisco

Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants take on their archrivals, the Dodgers, Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The harsh treatment Bonds can expect in that city is a far cry from the "Barry love" he receives at home in San Francisco.

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ALEX COHEN, host:

Okay, here is the thing about Barry Bonds. Love him, hate him, think he's a super freak. Whatever you feel, it's hard to stop watching him.

Tonight, baseball fans will be watching and likely booing here in Los Angeles. With the chance to break Hank Aaron's all-time homerun record, Bonds and his fellow Giants will be playing their archrivals, the L.A. Dodgers. The trash-talking Bonds usually faces in L.A. is a far cry from the very love he gets at home in San Francisco.

Ben Adler of member station KAZU has this audio postcard.

BEN ADLER: We're headed to the bottom of the eighth inning on Friday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco and no one has gone home even though the Giants are up by four and the game looks pretty well in hand. That's because the first batter due up in the bottom of the eighth is Barry Bonds.

Unidentified Woman: Bring up the energy for the Giants number 29, Barry Bonds.

(Soundbite of cheering)

Mr. RICK WALTON(ph) (Fan): It's just electric. I mean, he's always been electric.

BEN ADLER: Rick Walton's an Oakland A's fan who still comes out to Giants games. He used to watch Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, the two Oakland stars nicknamed the Bash Brothers.

Mr. WALTON: He's the guy, they used to say this about Canseco over in Oakland, you know, you didn't go to the restroom or go buy a beer or, you know, when he walked in the batters box. That's always been the case with Bonds and now it's times 10.

ADLER: Camera lights flash as each pitch heads towards home plate.

(Soundbite of cheering)

ADLER: And a high fastball for ball four sends Bonds to the first base for his fourth consecutive walk after his first inning homerun. It looks like about half this crowd has now gotten up and they're headed either to the concession stands, the bathrooms, or out of the park.

Mr. STEVE DELPORTO(ph) (Baseball Fan): I'm going to come to as many baseball games as I can come to, but I'm here to watch Barry hit it.

ADLER: Steve Delporto is wearing a special All Star Game Bonds jersey. He and his brother Mike say it's not just the hometown crowd that gets caught up in the moment.

Mr. S. DELPORTO: When Giants go to any other stadium, you'd see every fan jump up and cheer when Barry hits a homerun.

Unidentified Man #2: Exactly.

Mr. MIKE DELPORTO(ph) (Fan): Right after booing him when he's at bat.

Mr. S DELPORTO: No. You know what? It - whenever they say they don't want to see it, that's a lie because everybody wants to see Barry hit a homerun. Barry Bonds pins, get them while they last.

ADLER: Still, fans outside the Bay Area are more antagonistic. Many simply believe Bonds is a cheater, that his long ball totals are inflated by steroids; that's why Giants fans would rather see Bonds tie and break the record at home. But they did not get their wish on their most recent homestand; that ended Sunday.

And so now the Bonds watch heads to Los Angeles, where the Giants begin a three-game series with their archrivals the Los Angeles Dodgers. And one thing's for sure: the crowds in Southern California will not be anywhere near as friendly for Bonds as they are here in the city by the Bay.

For NPR News, I'm Ben Adler in San Francisco.

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