Thursday, August 02, 2007

Three Jeers for Barry

I happened past the Giants-Dodgers game on TV last night, hoping to catch a Barry Bonds at-bat. It's not that I really care about baseball that much. Nor do I care if Bonds breaks Henry Aaron's all-time home run record. In fact, I hope he doesn't. I just wanted to see how the crowd was reacting to him.

When a fly ball off a Dodger's bat soared out to left field where Bonds camped itself under it, the crowd at Chavez Ravine erupted in a chorus of boos. When Barry came to bat in the next inning, there were scattered bits of applause, and here and there a cheer or two. Mostly, though, the crowd jeered Barry. (Though they booed in unison when, after a single pitch, the Dodgers decided to walk Bonds with first base open.) They boo him at bat, they taunt him in the field, they despise him in as many ways as they can think of.

So what happens when Barry finally breaks the record? (It does seem a foregone conclusion.) At home, he'll likely get an ovation. (But nothing like what Aaron got.) But on the road? Where he'll be for the next four days? Will the crowd acknowledge the record positively? Or will the Southern California fans break out in a chorus of jeers? And what will that mean for baseball, when its most hallowed record is broken by a man so universally despised that a crowd of strangers can't even summon up a cheer or two on an historic occasion?

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