McCourt asks fans to be civil
Barry Bonds trotted to left field in the first inning, and the chants started. The Dodgers hit some balls his way in the second inning, and the chants grew louder, more insistent.
The boos rained down from the stands, early and often, but fans boo Bonds everywhere outside San Francisco. The Dodger Stadium chants are not witty, but they persist.
With the eyes of most baseball fans upon Dodger Stadium, with Bonds one swing from history, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt kindly asked his customers for civility.
“I don’t think a Los Angeles Dodger fan should have the need to be negative about anybody or anything,” McCourt said Tuesday. “If other fans in other cities want to call us names and so forth, so be it. But I believe that the Dodger fan and the Dodger franchise represents the best that baseball has to offer.
“It has nothing to do with Barry Bonds. I wish our fans would never be negative. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I think we should set an example of cheering for our players, not cheering against other players or other teams.”
Bonds remained stuck at 754, one home run shy of tying Hank Aaron’s all-time record. He struck out, reached base on an error and walked twice, once intentionally, in the Giants’ 3-1 victory.
Commissioner Bud Selig was in attendance. Neither he nor Bonds spoke with reporters, and the two men did not speak with each other. San Francisco Manager Bruce Bochy said he Bonds would “more than likely” play tonight.
The “Barry Sucks” chants are so ingrained in recent Dodger Stadium culture that Bonds claims to thrive on them.
“Dodger Stadium is the best show I ever go to in all of my baseball,” Bonds said in 2005.
“They say, ‘Barry sucks’ louder than anybody out there. And you know what?. . . You’ve got to have some serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you suck.”
Dodgers outfielder Luis Gonzalez said he saw no problem with fan behavior at Dodger Stadium, regarding Bonds or any other player.
“That’s passion,” Gonzalez said. “They’re hungry to get another world champion here, to get back to the playoffs. That’s how fans are.”
However, as one of his three ownership objectives, McCourt has pledged to establish Dodger Stadium as the most family-friendly venue in sports.
Should Bonds tie or break the record here, in a sold-out series, the reaction among fans could offer an indication of how close McCourt might be to achieving that objective.
“I think, in my heart, they’ll show their appreciation,” Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said. “Not all of them. You’ll have die-hard fans booing. But a lot of them will acknowledge history being made.”
Said McCourt: “I think Dodger fans have a great deal of respect for the game and for history, so I’m very confident they’ll act in an appropriate way.”
If Bonds hits 755 or 756 here, the Dodgers plan to acknowledge the milestone on the video board and allow Bonds a minute or two to react.
“We’ll just recognize the moment and let it stand on its own,” spokesman Josh Rawitch said.
Said Larry Baer, the Giants’ executive vice president: “I don’t think there’s an expectation in Dodger Stadium that they’ll put up a podium in the middle of the game and pull up chairs. In San Francisco, that could happen.”
Joe Beimel, the Dodgers’ left-handed relief specialist, said he would not object to a brief game delay to honor Bonds, even here.
“The record is bigger than the game, or any one of us, or even Barry Bonds himself,” Beimel said. “I feel it’s one of the biggest records in sports. If it happens, you deal with it.
“Hopefully, it’s not going to come here. If it does, I don’t think it’ll be a situation where we lose the game because of it. We’re not going to let him beat us.”
The Dodgers did not let anyone get close to Bonds, with unprecedented security as he warmed up in left field between innings. Security officers were stationed down the left-field line and into left-center -- out of prudence and not because of any specific threat, spokeswoman Camille Johnston said.
That brought a grin to the face of Gonzalez, who manned left field for the Dodgers. “I’m the safest guy in the world tonight,” he said.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Hank Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714 in 1974, and finished with 755. Barry Bonds is closing on Aaron’s record:
• Home runs: 754
• Tuesday: 0 for 3.
• Projected date to break record: August 10 vs. Pittsburgh.
• Next for Giants: vs. Dodgers tonight (Mark Hendrickson)
• Bonds vs. Hendrickson: .250, (2 for 8), 1 home run.