I've said it before: I don't like Barry Bonds. So it may seem strange that I wanted to be there when he hit home run number 756. But consider this: I love baseball; the record for career home runs is, like it or not, one of baseball's hallowed milestones; Bonds plays in my city; the Giants were beginning a home stand as he was poised to break the record. Too many stars were aligned for me to NOT try to get into a game. I could always boo, right? So, on Tuesday, August 7, I rode my bike to AT&T Park, hoping to get lucky and figuring that I wouldn't. Immediately, I got really lucky, scoring an amazing ticket in the club level (a $70 value) for the price of two AT&T Park beers. At that moment, I had a good feeling. A couple of hours later, Bonds faced a 3–2 count, and I decided to join 45,000+ other fans in pointing my digital camera at the plate. Up to that point, I made sarcastic remarks about mediating the experience in that way. Now I'm posting my crappy version on the Internet. Why? I don't know. Anyway, a moment later, Bonds drilled the pitch into deep, deep center field and the stranger next to me grabbed my arm and started jumping up and down.For the next five minutes, I high-fived a lot of people, and someone gave me a hug as I was filming the celebrations. Fireworks exploded over McCovey Cove; streamers rained down; the Nationals left the field; Hank Aaron congratulated Bonds asynchronously through a pre-recorded video. It was surreal, but festive and exciting.Of course, there was also a weird vibe. People seemed to feel personally gratified that they got to witness history, but few seemed really, truly happy for Bonds. Few people said: "Wow, good for Bonds.â€ Those who did were either people who possessed amazing capacities for forgiveness and seemed genuinely happy, or younger guys with way too much bitterness who saw Bonds as a kindred spirit. The rest of us said: "Wow. I can't believe I saw that. Wow. This is really weird." After hitting the home run, Bonds left the game. It was the 5th inning, and the Giants had a 5–4 lead; the Nationals came back and won. My question: Who does that? Hank Aaron? No. Dimaggio? Never. Ted Williams? God no. Sort of a perfect ending to a conflicted, surreal night.
After all my trash talk about Bonds and how he should just fess up to the roids, I saw him hit a dinger last Saturday, and I actually cheered. Like, I stood up as it left the bat, and maybe even jumped in the air when it went out, all the while clapping my hands. It was irresistible. He hit the thing a mile. It was awesome.