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Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Updated: May 9, 8:29 AM ET
Page 2 Quickie: May 8, 2006

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Bonds-haters, unite!

After tracking a weekend of Bonds-bashing in Philadelphia, culminating with Sunday night's nationally televised game on ESPN when Bonds hit No. 713, is all the loathing cathartic or corrosive?

I can crystallize the debate in a single, not-so-hypothetical question:

If you were in the stands last night and caught Bonds' 713th career home run, would you have kept the ball or thrown it back?

Fan Carlos Oliveras kept it, despite an angry mob of Philly fans around him, urging him to chuck the priceless keepsake back onto the field. Oliveras said he attended the game because he was a Bonds fan and wanted to see him hit No. 713.

You most likely loathe Bonds (or, perhaps like Oliveras, may not), but either way you can't help but watch now that he's a single home run from tying Ruth -- and two from passing him.

That's the fan's dilemma: Who doesn't want to witness history? But it just doesn't feel right to root Bonds on to the accomplishment.

The result? Fans pack the stadium to gawk but vent their frustration by lashing out. But in 10 years, do you think Phillies fans who were at the game will say, "I booed Bonds"? Or will they say, "I saw No. 713"? (I'd argue the latter, given the way so many "oohed" at his 450-foot blast.)

The ultimate symbol of fans' experience with Bonds is that Oliveras got to meet Bonds last night, and he wouldn't even sign the ball for him (he did offer a handshake and photo op).

And that's how he treats one of his fans. Bonds can take the simplest, easiest good-guy gesture and turn it into fodder for his critics.

Quickie Bonds Challenge
"Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer!"

Friday night, when Phillies fans in left field unfurled a giant homemade sign, 25 seats across, for Barry to see as he went out to his position, they set a new bar for fan creativity on the "Bonds Bash Road Rage Tour."

But chants of "Just retire!"
Or the cliched "Ste-roids!"
These have become so lame.

In fact, I bet Quickie readers can do better:

E-mail me your nominations for the ultimate anti-Bonds chant that should become the ballpark standard, and I'll print the best later this week.

No matter how you feel about Bonds, it'll make you feel better as he catches -- and passes -- Babe Ruth, as early as this week.

(Meanwhile, Bonds isn't expected to play today, but he has another six games at home this week to tie and break Ruth's mark. You can bet that his blindly faithful fans in San Francisco will be cheering him on.)

Nash Named MVP
Actually, Nash winning his second straight MVP award was way less shocking than the fact that Kobe came in fourth, and even more shocking than how Kobe's vote totals shook out:

Kobe earned the 2nd-highest total of 1st-place votes (22 to Nash's 57), but obviously Kobe alienated voters: He earned more votes for fifth place than for second and third combined.

LeBron's runner-up finish, meanwhile, should make him the prohibitive favorite for next season, as voters develop "Nash fatigue."

No matter what Nash's stats are next year, voters won't want to give any player three MVPs in a row.

Even Jordan didn't get that treatment.

NBA Conf. Semis
Pistons cruise: There was no way the Cavs were going to beat the Pistons in Detroit less than 48 hours after an emotionally grueling series clincher on the road in D.C.

Then add to that the Pistons' franchise playoff record of 15 3s (15/22), including 10/11 3-pt FG shooting in the first half. Yikes. The only question is whether Cleveland will win a single game in this series.

Spurs beat Mavs: Funny, while the Cavs struggled two days after clinching their first-round series, the Spurs looked fine. It was the Mavs who looked like they were affected by nearly a week off:

Mavs vs. Memphis: 94/110 FT (85%)
G1 vs. Spurs: 19/28 FT (68%)

Mavs vs. MEM: 18 assists per game
G1 vs. Spurs: 8 assists

Mavs vs. MEM: 5/15 3-pt FG avg
G1 vs. Spurs: 2/7 3-pt FG

Clippers at Suns: No one wants to hear you griping about no "Hallway Series." (see DQ'd)

The matchup to watch is inside: Clippers MVP contender Elton Brand and C Chris Kaman versus the Suns' undersized All-Star Shawn Marion and Most Improved Player Boris Diaw:

In four games vs. the Suns this season, Brand and Kaman combined for 35.5 ppg and 24 rpg (42 ppg and 23.5 rpg in 2 Clippers wins); Diaw and Marion combined for 33.5 ppg and 16.5 rpg (but only 17 ppg and 8 rpg in 2 LA wins).
Clippers in 7.

And at the end of the Nets-Heat list:

Nets at Heat:
3 questions, in this order:
• How is Wade's hip feeling?
• Is Shaq back or befuddling?
• How do the Heat stop Carter, Jefferson AND Kidd?
Nets in 6.

(Sure, Miami swept the Nets in the first round last season, but this isn't that Heat team -- and the Nets are a lot better.)

Did Kobe Give Up?
Why did Kobe Bryant take only three 2nd-half shots in the Lakers' blowout Game 7 loss to the Suns?

With the game out of hand early, did he want to prove a final hyperbolic point about the share-the-wealth playoff game plan?

Was he trying to show up his lagging teammates and relinquish blame on himself for the Lakers' late-series chokery?

Even if "81" defines Kobe's season, it will be hard not to attach the Lakers' unprecedented collapse after taking a 3-1 series lead.

Favre Returning?
Early contender for Irony of the Year:

Brett Favre complains about the distraction his career indecision triggered, then drops a bombshell that next year may or may not be his last.

But he doesn't, you know, want to talk about it. Right: Because he doesn't appreciate the distraction. That must be why he mentioned it.

MLB Weekend Wrap
Quote of the Day: "They tell me that's the way the Babe used to hit them." -- Giants manager Felipe Alou on Bonds' monster 450-foot shot last night

More on Phillies fans: Which player will get a rougher treatment: Bonds or Mets closer Billy Wagner?

Wagner ripped his old teammates in the media on Sunday and arrives in Philly for a reunion on Tuesday in a huge series between the division-leading Mets and the second-place Phillies, winners of 8 straight.

MLB 'Roid Probe: Selig said the Mitchell Commission would have free rein, but he obviously didn't ask the union, which balked at providing Mitchell with the ex-players' medical records he requested.

Good ol' Johan: For those wondering where the usual Johan Santana was earlier this season, it looks like he's back: 11 Ks in 7 IP in a 4-2 Twins win over the Tigers.

Royals Ax Watch: One of the great mysteries of 21st century baseball is how Royals GM Allard Baird has kept his job despite near-record levels of ineptitude by his team.

That might be ending shortly. Ownership has indicated unprecedented signs of frustration. Fans are giving up. One easy fix is to dump the architect of it all. That's what the rumor mill is suggesting.

Hootie Out
What will Hootie Johnson be remembered for?

(a) Augusta Nat'l renovations
(b) Improving Masters TV deal
(c) Tussle with Martha Burk

Answer: C. And if Burk can feel good about anything in her otherwise quixotic quest, it's that she indelibly stamped Hootie's most prominent legacy.

Improvements? TV deals? Those will be distant details. Just like in the stories about his resignation, when Hootie's obituary is written, he will be defined by the Burk connection.

David Blaine
So I went to go check out David Blaine in his fishbowl last week. Yeah, he's kind of pruny.

But will he break the 9-minute mark while trying to hold his breath tonight? (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Here's the sad/scary part: I've heard from way too many people who are kind of rooting for something bad to happen.

It's not that they want anything evil to happen to him, per se; it's just that Blaine manages to turn off people while getting them to tune in.