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Going deep in crystal ball

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Barry Bonds enters the weekend three homers shy of the single-season record, but Home Run Derby, Redux is much different from the 1998 classic. Opposing fans are jeering Barry continuously, Sammy Sosa is way off the pace, the Maris kids are too busy suing Anheuser-Busch to show up at the ballpark, and Todd MacFarlane has yet to place a single million-dollar bid for a home-run ball.

Barry Bonds
Will Barry Bonds start to feel the pressure if he doesn't own the record by late next week?
But if the public has yet to catch home run fever this time around, all that could change as we enter the final climactic days of the chase ...

Sept. 28: Barry goes homerless, but San Diego's Rickey Henderson breaks Ty Cobb's career record for runs scored, necessitating a 56-minute delay when Rickey insists on digging home plate up so he can raise it above his head.

Sept. 29: Barry sends a fastball from San Diego's Jason Middlebrook into McCovey Cove for his 68th home run, but the baseball is lost when 16 rowboats, two catamarans, five Boston Whalers, seven kayaks, four sailboats, a ferry, three rubber dinghies and a man in an inner tube are sunk by a luxury yacht steered by Todd MacFarlane.

Sept. 30: Barry goes homerless, but Henderson singles for his 3,000th career hit, necessitating a two-hour, 18-minute delay while Rickey has the ball removed from play, gold-plated and attached to his necklace. MacFarlane buys it after the game for $30,000.

Oct. 1: With the Giants and Bonds traveling to Houston in separate planes, agent Scott Boras tells reporters he has made a last-minute contract offer to San Francisco. Barry will forego free agency and re-sign with the Giants if they pay him $80 million over four years and also set up an Alex Rodriguez memorabilia tent at spring training.

Oct. 2: With Houston fans heckling him each at-bat and MacFarlane sweating more than Albert Brooks in "Broadcast News," Bonds doubles off the wall three times but goes homerless. After the game, a reporter asks him, "Jeff Kent bet me $1,000 I couldn't get more than two words out of you." Walking away, Bonds replies, "You lose."

Ricky Henderson
Will Rickey Henderson get to the runs record before Barry reaches Big Mac?
Oct. 3: On the 50th anniversary of Bobby Thomson's homer, Barry hits his 69th home run to beat Houston and lift the Giants into first place over Arizona. MacFarlane's hair begins to fall out in clumps.

Oct. 4: Barry homers off Houston rookie Roy Oswalt for his 70th homer, tying McGwire's record. MacFarlane responds by lowering his eBay auction reserve on McGwire's 70th home run ball to $39.

The news of Barry's home run is overshadowed by Michael Jordan's announcement that he is "99.9 percent certain" he won't come out of retirement to play for the White Sox.

Oct. 5: The Giants return home for a season-ending series, while San Francisco officials reject MacFarlane's offer to buy McCovey Cove and close it off to all boat traffic. After Dodgers starter Chan Ho Park shuts out the Giants and holds Bonds hitless, former manager Tommy Lasorda issues a press release to take credit for the victory.

Oct. 6: Barry goes homerless again, leaving him just one game to break McGwire's record. MacFarlane raises the auction reserve on McGwire's 70th home run ball back to $1 million.

Oct. 7: On the final day of the season, Barry sends a pitch from Dodgers reliever Jesse Orosco into the left-field bleachers to break McGwire's single-season record with his 71st home run, win the NL West title for San Francisco and send MacFarlane into Chapter 11. Bonds celebrates the feat by jumping on home plate and lifting McGwire's son, Matthew.

After the game, President Bush calls the San Francisco clubhouse to congratulate Bonds, but Barry blows him off, instructing manager Dusty Baker to tell the President to call him back next week.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for

crystal ball 

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