Reprinted from yesterday's editions
Your sins will find you out, they say. Even when you just haze a rookie and it takes 18 years for the payback. In 1986, Barry Bonds was a skinny rookie on the Pittsburgh Pirates and Lee Mazzilli was the 11-year veteran who'd once been an all-star.
"Mazzilli and Rick Rhoden made me change my clothes in the middle of the [locker room] floor. Maz took two lockers. He told me, 'You earn your locker,' " Bonds said Friday night.
How was Mazzilli to know that his 93 career home runs would, so far, put him only 581 homers behind Bonds.
"Do I look like that kind of guy?" pleaded Mazzilli, hat cocked on the back of his head, looking like just that kind of guy.
"When I was a rookie and we landed at the airport on [the first] road trip, Mazzilli sent me down to baggage claim and told me to wait to get the suitcases -- me not knowing that in the major leagues they sent 'em straight to the hotel," said Bonds, who ended up missing the team bus. "I had to pay for a taxi to the hotel."
This callow incident Mazzilli also claims to have forgotten. However, since Friday night's game between the Giants and Orioles at Camden Yards was rained out, Bonds will have two games on Saturday to settle accounts with Mazzilli.
"You think he'll pay me back in this series?" said Mazzilli, who's now the rookie himself -- at managing.
Actually, Bonds considers Mazzilli and Rhoden his two "big mentors" in his first impressionable season. In those days, the old-school practical jokes were balanced off by a tradition of teaching youngsters how to be "big league."
"Maz took care of me as a rookie. I was making [the major league minimum] and he took me out for steaks, the best food. He paid for it. He showed me the ropes," said Bonds, grinning. "Unfortunately, the game has changed and we're not allowed to do those things [to rookies] anymore."
"Oh," said Mazzilli, looking on the bright side, "then he owes me!?"
It looks that way, although Bonds is more likely to pay off his gratitude with dinner in Little Italy than with strikeouts. At the moment, he's only hitting .369 and slugging .828 with an insane .626 on-base percentage.
Friday night's rainout was met with dejection here. Partly because of the rescheduling, but mostly because Bonds will now only have one batting practice session at Camden Yards in this three-game series -- before the 3:15 p.m. first game Saturday (teams typically don't take BP for a day game following a night game, and Sunday's start is 1:35 p.m.)
If you think the fans are bummed, you should see the Orioles.
"I will definitely go out to watch batting practice," said Sidney Ponson, the Orioles' starter on Sunday. Ponson played part of last season with the Giants. "You can't believe where he hits them. Last year, he hit one entirely out of the new ballpark in Cincinnati -- straight to center field. . . . He will love this ballpark. In San Francisco, it is 421 feet in right-center field. Here, it's 318 feet down the line. Oh, boy."
"This is one of those times we will go out to watch," said Orioles coach Tom Trebelhorn. "You always watched Cecil Fielder, Jose Canseco, then Mark McGwire. Now it's Bonds."
The Giants keep track of Bonds's BP tape measure shots.
"In Chicago, he broke a window in a house across the street [from Wrigley Field]," said Giants Manager Felipe Alou. "In Colorado, he almost hit one out of the stadium in right-center field. It landed in the last row."
Although aided by high altitude, that swat might be one of the few 600-foot blows in baseball annals, BP or not. Last season, Bonds conked the windows of the restaurant in center field in Toronto that is several stories above the center field fence.
The dugout question for Saturday, in addition to whether the Orioles will be courageous enough to pitch to Bonds in most of his at-bats, is Bonds's assault on the B&O Warehouse -- perhaps in the game, but certainly in batting practice.
"I've hit it a couple of times," Orioles muscleman Jay Gibbons said. "I don't think Barry'll have any problem. He just has to get it high enough in the air. The top of the [batting] cage can catch some that would have a chance. You have to get it out of the very top of the cage."
"He'll hit it five or six times," Alou said.
Bonds, of course, says he'll be working on subtle techniques in the batting cage on Saturday and only swing for power a few times, so, don't expect much. "I hope I don't disappoint 'em," said Bonds, who then explained why he couldn't possibly be expected to hit even one ball very far. "They'll be sadly disappointed if they watch BP," he said.
With a poor-mouth job like that, it sounds like the second-story windows may be in jeopardy, too.
If nothing else, Bonds will probably get the traditional hardball showdown that he loves on Sunday when he meets the brave, or foolish, Ponson. The two met and talked for a few minutes on Friday.
"Barry is in a class of his own. . . . And he's a great teammate. The media sometimes paints him as a bad guy, but to me he's a great guy. . . . He's the best hitter I've seen . . . but I'm not afraid of him," Ponson said. "Unless the manager tells me to walk him, I'm going to pitch to him. I'll play the game. I told Barry, 'I'm going to throw strikes.' But you can't throw him nothing down the middle. If I throw a fastball down the middle, he could pop it up or hit it 600 feet.
"If he hits one, then I'm one in his book," Ponson said.
Of course, Bonds could end up in the books of a few Orioles pitchers. In Tampa Bay, Manager Lou Piniella took the high road and told all his pitchers to go after Bonds -- except in game-at-stake situation. "The fans want to see this guy swing the bat," Piniella said. On Wednesday, Bonds only went 1 for 5 with a single. "There you go, he's human," Gibbons said.
Some have their doubts. Catcher Javy Lopez has seen far more of Bonds than any other Oriole after 10 full seasons with the Braves. And he is, by a wide margin, the most fearful of Bonds. "You can challenge him," said Lopez, skeptically, "but if you do, chances are he's going to hit it out. You have to be smart. We have to make sure their whole team beats us, not just one person.
"In 1996, on an 0-2 pitch, John Smoltz threw him one of the nastiest splitters I have ever seen. It was almost in the dirt. Barry got it just before it bounced and hit it out of the park. Waaaay back," Lopez said.
"I said, 'My God, if he hit that pitch, he can hit any other.' "
For the next two days and three games, many fans here hope those words prove true. Even if the Orioles don't.