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December 06, 2001

A Giant success
By Dan Patrick

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- After watching the San Francisco Giants clinch the National League West title Thursday night, I was reminded how their wonderful season was the result of three things: Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds and Pacific Bell Park.

Jeff Kent
Barry Bonds is probably the favorite for the NL MVP, but teammate Jeff Kent (above) can make a case as well.

First of all, the park is tremendous. Beautiful sight lines, great food and all the comforts you expect in a modern sports facility. And as Barry Bonds said, the fans filled it all summer and made it a great place to go work.

After just one season, Pac Bell can clearly take its place among the very best of the new ballparks.

Perhaps the one player who has taken the most advantage of the new park is Bonds. He has made it his place, and his long home runs to right field have helped Pac Bell make a real, excuse me, splash.

It may seem like we show every home run on SportsCenter. Well, we don't. But when Bonds puts one into McCovey Cove, we show it because it is a unique shot, one that no other ballpark offers.

Clearly, Bonds has been the league's MVP over the last five weeks or so. Timely hitting, great numbers and his overall leadership, plus his Hall of Fame career statistics, make him a favorite to win this prestigious award for the fourth time.

Yet most of the players and fans we have talked to out here say the Giants MVP all season has been second baseman Jeff Kent. You have to see Kent play every day to appreciate him. He is not a self-promoter; he just goes out and helps his team win every day.

Bonds' long home runs to right field have helped Pac Bell make a real, excuse me, splash.

Kent looks like a country singer and sounds like a NASCAR driver. But he is one helluva baseball player. His stats this season put him right there with Bonds for MVP.

This battle between Bonds and Kent for MVP reminds me of no less than Ruth-Gehrig or Maris-Mantle. It also reminds me of how hard it was to determine who helped those great Reds teams in the 1970s more, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench or Joe Morgan. To use one of my favorite sports cliches, it's a shame one of them has to lose.

I think Bonds will win the award. In a perfect world, they would split it. Some consolation for Kent may be that while Bonds may win the official league's national award, Kent may win the local award.

No matter what happens, Bonds, Kent and Pac Bell Park have given San Francisco baseball fans a season to treasure.

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