The last time Barry Bonds played in the National League Championship Series, his team, the Pirates, were one out away from reaching baseball’s grand stage. An angel flew down from heaven into Fulton County Stadium in the form of Braves third string catcher Francisco Cabrera, the only player left on Atlanta’s bench. Miraculously, the career journeyman smashed a line drive into left field, one run scored, game tied. The ball trickled into Bonds’ award winning gold glove, and he fired home. Sid Bream, a dilapidated first basemen, hideously trudged around third base. A classic play at the plate was about to ensue. Bream slid. Bonds’ throw arrived. Safe at the plate. The Braves were returning to the World Series, and Bonds was returning home. Was the fate of the game’s best modern day player sealed at that moment?

Well ten years to the day of Bonds’ most forgettable moment came his most joyous one. Barry Bonds is going to the World Series for the first time, this time as a member of the Giants.

Bonds, who has gained thirty pounds of muscle and the all-time single season home run record of 73 since his last appearance in the NLCS, has perhaps delivered the best performance of his career this postseason. The Giants’ left fielder has had a reputation for not producing in the post-season when his team needs him most. Before this post-season Bonds had a batting average of .196, with no home runs and only one RBI. Even worse, he had batted zero for 11 in deciding games for his team.

But this post-season has been his coming out party. Bonds hit three towering blasts in eliminating the favored Braves. He has an average of .286, with four homers and 10 RBIs this postseason, and delivered a vital sacrifice fly that tied the game in the Giants pennant-clinching victory over St. Louis on Monday night. Most importantly, pitchers have been so afraid to let Bonds hit that they have been walking him at an exorbitant rate. The reluctance of pitchers to face Bonds has allowed other Giants to step into the spotlight. Most notably in game four, Benito Santiago broke a two-all tie with a homer after Bonds was intentionally walked in the eighth inning.

At 38, Bonds is slowly staking his mark as the greatest player of all time. Stuck at 613 career homers, Bonds will pass Hank Aaron if he continues his current streak for three more seasons. Individual numbers, however, won’t separate Bonds from legends like Ted Williams. To eclipse the greatest pure hitter of all time Bonds must achieve what Williams was never able to do, win a world series ring. “I’m satisfied with what we’ve accomplished but I don’t want this to be the end of it,” Bonds said. We still have a lot to say in the World Series. It’s been a great party but it’s not over.”

Rybaltowski can be reached at

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