SAN FRANCISCO -- Getting the Barry Bonds treatment off the field could lead to a Congressional hearing, legal red tape and various other headaches and health ailments. Getting the Barry Bonds treatment on the field, however, is the ultimate sign of respect.
In the 2002 World Series between Bengie Molina's Angels and the San Francisco Giants, the Angels, burned one too many times by a Bonds home run, chose to intentionally walk him instead of giving him a chance to rip another.
In the ALDS, the Tampa Bay Rays didn't go that far, but they did refuse to give him anything good to hit. They threw Hamilton mostly off-speed pitches and almost all out of the zone. The strategy worked as Hamilton went fishing too often and finished the five game series with two hits.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan remembers watching in awe as Rays reliever Joaquin Benoit threw Hamilton five consecutive changeups.
"I was sitting here thinking, 'Have I ever seen another hitter in the game get five straight changeups?' And I thought, 'Not that I could recall.' So, I think that shows the respect and attitude of the opposing teams towards him."
In the ALCS, the New York Yankees went full-on Barry Bonds with Hamilton. In Game 6, the Yankees intentionally walked Hamilton three consecutive times, preferring to face clean-up hitter Vladimir Guerrero instead. Hamilton said he didn't expet to get the Bonds treatment from the Yankees.
"No," Hamilton said. "But then again I don’t get paid to manage a ballclub, probably never will. They did what they thought was the right move."
The second intentional free pass backfired. Guerrero blasted a double to deep center to score two to break a 1-1 tie and ignite a four-run inning the ALCS clincher.
"I knew Vladdy was going to get them," Hamilton said. "You can’t do it to him too many times. He’s going to get upset as far as wanting to show them he can do it. That drive that Vladdy has has got him through a long career."
How strange would it be if the Giants of all teams give Hamilton the Bonds treatment?