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A day of futility ends some high hopes as Bonds remains shy

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Posted: July 29, 2007 8:38 p.m.
Updated: August 13, 2007 5:00 a.m.

    SAN FRANCISCO — The game was still an hour and a half away and the man who will be the home run king was sitting in his private enclave in the Giants’ clubhouse, head in hands and watching his personal flat-panel TV.

    On the screen was the man who might well be the home run king himself someday. And while this was a day when Barry Bonds and most of baseball were fixated on one number, Alex Rodriguez was just one big swing away from his own pretty important number.

    ‘‘Are they working in special balls for A-Rod?’’ Bonds asked to no one in particular.

    He didn’t have to wait long for an answer. Clustered around the locker were a dozen or so reporters, happy to say yes and even happier to have a little interaction with the slugger.

    Bonds seemed pretty happy himself, though his mood would later change after another day of futility at the plate. The night before he had been blanked by Dontrelle Willis and the Florida Marlins, but this was another day, and a beautiful one at that, in the Bay Area.

    ‘‘We’re all watching TV,’’ Bonds said. ‘‘We’re all here together having a slumber party.’’

    Outside AT&T Park, one Giant party was going on. The final day of the homestand was also Bonds’ last chance to tie or break perhaps the most celebrated record in sports, and many of the 42,965 who would cram their way inside were hanging around enjoying a few moments before the game.

    Working near the statue of Willie Mays, some ticket scalpers were offering free ice cream samples to lure buyers. Underneath the statue, a man was handing out copies of a newsletter blaming everyone but the tooth fairy for causing Bonds troubles.

    ‘‘Stop the attacks on Barry Bonds,’’ he yelled.

    On this day, in this park, no one was attacking Bonds. They stood and cheered when his name was announced in the starting lineup, and stood and cheered for every at-bat.

    That’s not likely to happen for a while. The Giants head down south to face their hated rivals, the Dodgers, and the love Bonds was soaking up along with the sun will be replaced by venom, and plenty of it, beginning Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine.

    That’s the way it always is for Bonds on the road, and that’s the reason the general consensus is that he will break the record at home.

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