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Barry Bonds Stalled at 754 Homeruns


Barry Bonds didn't hit a home run last night as the San Francisco Giants lost to San Diego. He seemed stalled at 754, one shy of the all-time career record. The home run chase has turned into a maddening drought for hundreds of journalists and at least one baseball VIP.

Tom Goldman sends us his Reporter's Notebook from the Barry Bond's Traveling Show.

TOM GOLDMAN: We all knew when he got close to the record it wasn't going to be an outright celebration. Barry Bonds is too controversial, too polarizing a figure. Add to that, his struggles at the plate, and the whole thing has gotten pretty grim. Don't take my word for it. Listen to the commissioner of baseball.

Mr. BUD SELIG (Commissioner, Major League Baseball): So this has been - it's been a tough experience, I don't mind telling you.

GOLDMAN: Watching Bud Selig follow Bonds around the country is like watching a kid confront a spoonful of yucky medicine. Selig is good friends with Hank Aaron, the man whose record Bonds will break - one of these days. There are also those dodgy doping allegations against Bonds, casting a big question mark over the whole process.

But knowing this, it still was startling to hear Selig in Los Angeles this week, kvetching about having to chase the record chaser.

Mr. SELIG: I don't think there's anybody that can say that I haven't made a Herculean effort. In fact, I've been having a lot of people who I think are stunned that I'm still at this. So it is what it is.

GOLDMAN: And it is, to echo the frazzled commissioner, getting to be a drag. For the teeming press corps, several hundred strong, life is reduced to four, maybe, five moments a night when Bonds comes up to bat.

I hustled the prime spots in the stadium and prepared a chronicle of history, the operative word being prepare.

I want to announce, here's the pitch.

(Soundbite of at-bat)

(Soundbite of crowd)

GOLDMAN: Runs(ph) to second.

(Soundbite of crowd)


Four straight balls, Bonds' third walk of the night.

Each homer-less at bat results in more sighs, more grumbles. Journalists are looking rumpled since most reporters, not on TV, appear to own at best a week's worth of clothes. Bonds doesn't like to talk to us most of the time which makes stories about nothing even less compelling.

We dream of Henry Aaron who, most of the time, talk to reporters covering his chase and did so graciously. At week's end, there was a decided lack of grace surrounding(ph) Bonds' chase, and some of it was coming from a suddenly snarly commissioner.

Mlb.com writer Barry Bloom asked Selig if he'll go to San Francisco next week if the Giants return home from their current road trip and Bonds still hasn't broken the record.

Mr. SELIG: Barry, for God's sakes, can we get through the weekend first? Do you have to know my schedule next week, too?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SELIG: I want to close with a line, and I hope you'll pardon my language. You are one royal pain in the ass. Thank you very much.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

GOLDMAN: You were talking about Barry Bloom, right, commissioner?

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman, who's merely royal.

This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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