Bonds launches 707

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Manager Felipe Alou has a question.

"What are people looking for when it comes to Barry Bonds?" Alou asked before his San Francisco Giants played the Washington Nationals last night.

"What are they going to do about the eight Gold Gloves he has won and the more than 500 stolen bases he has?

"Where are you going to hide that and concentrate on steroids?"

The reference obviously was to suggestions that anyone who has tested positive for steroids, which Bonds has not, should have their accumulated numbers tossed in the garbage.

Bonds is a magnet for fans, drawing their ire. Still, we haven't seen so many flash bulbs or camera phones go off when a player comes to the plate since Mark McGwire chased Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998.

"I played the game for a long, long time," said Alou, who played parts of 17 seasons in the majors. "But I could never imagine playing at the level Barry plays at."

Part of a manager's job is to defend his players, although we have heard Alou knock players before.

But Alou speaks from the heart about Barry Bonds, defending the son of Bobby Bonds and the godson of Willie Mays, Alou's former teammate with the Giants.

"If people could be with Barry for a couple of days, understand him, listen to him ... he is so meticulous and passionate about the game," Alou said.

"He has been portrayed as arrogant and not well liked. Let me tell you, he's not the only arrogant player in the majors."

The game against the Nationals last night, a 5-1 win for the Giants, was Bonds' eighth of the season, after three knee surgeries.

"For whatever reason people look at Barry and fail to see the greatest player in the game," Alou said. "I don't know whether it's that they don't know the game, don't understand the game or don't like him, but all they do is look for crap.

"Well, everyone one of us has our our dark side."

Bonds hit his 707th career homer in the first inning last night -- his fourth homer in as many games -- against John Patterson of the Nationals. He's third overall -- seven behind Babe Ruth and 48 behind Hank Aaron.

RFK Stadium, formerly known as DC Stadium, acknowledges power. There are three white seats in the upper deck's sea of yellow seats. One is in left, six rows up in section 535, another seven rows into section 538 in left-centre and one, the most amazing of all, is four rows into section 542. All were hit by 6-foot-7, 255-pound slugger Frank Howard.

Alou told of Howard being assigned to the Escogido Lions in Dominican winter ball in the early 1960s and how the team's bat shipment had not arrived by opening night.

"They told us to go into the city to a sporting goods store and buy our bats," Alou said. "Frank found a Harvey Kuenn model. It was bad wood. Still, in his first at-bat he homered with his pharmacy bat."

Despite dialling long distance 382 times, Howard was not suspected of steroid use.

"Frank was on the juice ... ice cream and milk shakes," Alou said with a laugh. "One time in winter ball we went to Santiago. Carl Warwick and Frank ate the ice cream parlour out of ice cream.

Alou remembered how Howard, a right-handed hitter, hit an opposite-field drive to right-centre which hit three-quarters of the way up the scoreboard at old Candlestick Park.

"No one cared about distances, or how far the ball travelled back then -- unless you were Mickey Mantle," Alou said.

Now fans care about Bonds and the cloud of mystery over his alleged steroid use. Or is it the other way around?


Videos

Photos