Bonds hears no evil

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Hate him or despise him, you have to give him this: Barry Bonds appears unflappable.

As fans in left field booed, waved signs and screamed at him in the top of the first last night, he didn't acknowledge the crowd at Citizens Bank Park.

Then, Philadelphia Phillies leadoff man Jimmy Rollins hit a liner directly at Bonds. The San Francisco Giants slugger chugged back, made an over-the-shoulder grab on the edge of the track -- running toward his tormentors -- and came to a halt, breaking his stride against the wall.

Bonds flipped the ball in and as he slowly walked to his position, he made a half turn over his shoulder and smiled.

He can handle the name-calling and still play. Hitting home runs is another matter. Bonds was homerless last night in a 4-1 Giants loss in front of a sold-out crowd of 44,042, including his mother. He still has 712 career homers, three away from passing Babe Ruth for second on the MLB career list.

Right-hander Ryan Madson walked Bonds in the first, then retired him on a 6-5-3 double play against the Bonds shift in the third. He broke his bat flying out to left on a 2-1 pitch in the fifth and then blooped a wind-blown single in front of Pat Burrell in the eighth, on a 1-2 pitch from Arthur Rhodes.

But later in the inning Bonds, despite jumping, was hit with a hard Steve Finley smash and was ruled out. He made the long walk to the dugout to loud boos.

It was his first hit in 12 at-bats this series. His previous hit was a homer in the ninth inning Tuesday against the San Diego Padres.

The Giants play here tonight before returning home to play host to the Houston Astros in a make-up game. The homestand continues with three-game series against the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When he batted in the top of the first, fans serenaded Bonds with a lengthy chorus of "Barry Cheated, Barry Cheated."

At first it sounded like Yankee Stadium bleacher creatures yelling "Derek Jeter" as they do to each member of the starting nine until each tips his cap.

As the home run chase continues, so does the side show:

* George Mitchell, a one-time U.S. senator, has asked former and current major leaguers for medical and phone records. The Players' Association claims Mitchell is stepping outside the steroid investigation and wants players to contact the office immediately upon hearing from investigators.

* Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who wrote a book about Bonds' alleged steroid use were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury over documents they used in their articles. The subpoenas call for Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams to turn over their copies of grand jury transcripts from the 2003 investigation of a steroid distribution based at the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, or BALCO.

There was not a repeat of Friday's sign of "Babe Ruth did it with hot dogs and beer," which was unfurled in the front row of the left-field seats.

We know, however, Ruth hit his homers on more than dogs and beer. A bartender at Hoot's -- a saloon near the corner of Michigan and Trumball -- across from old Tiger Stadium told us so in 1985.

Between doubleheaders, Ruth used to waddle over in uniform for shots of Jack Daniels and pickled eggs. And we remember the bartender telling us Ruth usually fared better in the nightcap of the doubleheader.

So Ruth did it with booze, too. Ruth was the man who saved baseball with his home runs following the Black Sox scandal in 1919.

Ruth moved in different circles. We remember one night in Cincinnati, Pete Rose telling us a story Waite Hoyt often told of a trip to Chicago in the early 1920s. Ruth and Hoyt, the Yankees righty, left the clubhouse to find a pug waiting for them: "Da big guy ... wants ta see youse two guys," he said.

The pair went to a downtown hotel and the players were invited up to Al Capone's suite.

"What would baseball have done to me if I was hangin' with Al Capone?" Rose asked.

Bonds could be asking a similar question: "What will baseball do to me?"


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