Major League Baseball Milestones Delayed

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A rare confluence of history in Major League Baseball is dashed. New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez missed becoming the youngest player to reach 500 career homeruns; New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine missed his 300th victory; and San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds didn't top Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.


Well, last night in Major League Baseball, there was the possibility that history would be made three times. New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez was trying to become the youngest player to reach 500 career homeruns. Pitcher Tom Glavine of the New York Mets was trying for his 300th victory. And, of course, San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds was trying again to top Hank Aaron's all-time homerun record. None of those three made it. In Los Angeles, Bonds was reminded how different life on the road can be when you're Barry Bonds.

Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN: Barry Bonds lives in Beverly Hills, so you'd think L.A. Dodgers fans would be downright neighborly.

Unidentified Group: Barry sucks! Barry sucks! Barry sucks! Barry sucks!

GOLDMAN: Okay, so they're not going to drop by with a homemade pie. Dodger officials tried to control the nasty stuff, especially displays related to the doping allegations against Bonds. Last night, security confiscated a big syringe someone was carrying, but security can't be everywhere. In the upper deck, there were the two guys wearing T-shirts with Bonds' number and the word juiced on the back. And then there was Ryan Vincent(ph) from Culver City who was sporting a red eyeshade, the kind you wear on a plane to sleep. It said But when Bonds came up to bat, Vincent kept the blindfold propped up on his forehead, proving that Barry-hating is a complicated state of mind.

Mr. RYAN VINCENT: I'm torn because I do hate Barry Bonds, but if it he hits it, I do have to see. I will then put the blindfold on and turn around. I think that's the way to go.

GOLDMAN: With cameras flashing like fireflies throughout the stadium, we watched Bonds' third at bat to see if Bonds would tie Hank Aaron's record with his 755th homerun thereby causing Vincent to do his turnaround thing.

Unidentified Group: Boo.

Mr. VINCENT: Boo. All right, so it's three-and-one. Please don't walk him. Son of a - there you go.

GOLDMAN: Another walk for Bonds, his second of the night. He didn't talk after the Giant's three-to-one victory. That decision led to the best line of the evening when Bonds emerged from the clubhouse and saw the mob of reporters and cameramen waiting. He turned right around and went back inside, prompting one journalist to shout: Well, that means six more weeks of winter. Giant's manager Bruce Bochy covered for his leftfielder turned groundhog. Sounding valiantly half full, Bochy said this.

Mr. BRUCE BOCHY (Manager, San Francisco Giants): I think Barry took some good swings.

GOLDMAN: In theory, good swings beget homeruns. And it's expected the sometimes creaky 43-year-old slugger will be in the lineup again tonight. Forty-one-year-old Tom Glavine missed his chance at a milestone last night. He tried and failed to join only 22 other pitchers who've won 300 games.

On the brink of 300 at a recent press conference, Glavine put his quest into what has become a depressing context for many players and fans. He said it's hard enough to be a top player. Beyond that, he said, quote, "there are some guys who have been cheating or doing things to give themselves an advantage and you had to rise above that as well. I think that adds to the satisfaction."

Tom Goldman, NPR News, Los Angeles.

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