All Eyes On One Man As The Circus Limps Into Town

Bonds forbid that anyone should talk about the A's tonight, what with the Giants in town and all eyes on the quest for #714. See what I did there? I casually replaced "God" with "Bonds" and acted like it was a normal sentence--did you like the way I did that, wasn't it great? (Say those last two sentences out loud in your best Stewie voice, and it will read as intended.)

Ethical debates aside, all sides can generally agree on one thing: In the Giants' lineup, Barry Bonds constitutes by far the biggest threat. So the A's have a legitimate dilemma, one which is faced daily by some National League team: How much to pitch to Barry Bonds in the quest to win a baseball game. A baseball game--you know, those pesky things that keep interrupting His Quest. (Say those last two words out loud, in your best "I dub thee: Excalibur!" voice, with a little echo-effect added, and it will read as intended.)

Here are my "3 reasons to pitch to Bonds," and my "3 reasons not to"...

   3 reasons to pitch to Bonds:

   a. Great hitter or not, Bonds is 3 for his last 21, and is batting .233 for the season.

   b. If Bonds, and only Bonds, hurts you, you will probably still win the game. Solo HRs won't beat you the way walks will, so just throw quality strikes up and down the lineup and take your chances.

   c. There's a part of you--the part only you and your therapist know about--that wants to see Bonds make history, even if it's against your team.

   3 reasons not to pitch to Bonds:

   d. With Moises Alou out, Bonds is so far and away the Giants' main threat that it makes little sense to throw him a strike when the game is close, especially when Haren or Blanton is pitching (Pedro Feliz' lifetime OBP against righties is .283, and Ray Durham's OPS the last 3 years is, "Ow, my hamstring!").

   e. If Lance Niekro, or Mike Matheny, beats you, then you say, "Hey, that's baseball," but if you let Bonds beat you, that's when you wake up at 3:00am asking yourself, "Why did I let this happen? He's the one guy where `you just don't let him beat you.'"

   f. "No petulant, bulked-up freak is tying Babe Ruth in our backyard."

Does one of these six possible reactions match your mindset about how the A's should handle pitching to Barry Bonds, and why? Ponder it now, because Danny Haren takes the mound at 7:05pm tonight. In his 57.1 innings so far this year, Haren has allowed 11 HRs and he has walked 7. Who knows how much longer the Babe will have to enjoy 2nd place...

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