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October 2, 2001
SAN FRANCISO, CALIFORNIA
Q. Now that it's this close, how important is it to you to get the next two?
BARRY BONDS: Ask Houston. (Laughter.) That's the answer I've got for you.
Q. So it's about the pennant, os that what you're saying?
BARRY BONDS: We've got to win. There's no doubt, we have to win. Arizona and I both -- Arizona and us we have both played well. I think when they look back, both of us lost opportunities. Unfortunately, they happen to still be two games ahead of us. They have had chances to break it wide open. We've had chances and opportunities to catch up.
We know what we're in for. We've got Houston who came in our ballpark and beat us around like little league ballplayers. It's always been tough for us to sweep L.A. at any point in time as long as I've been in San Francisco.
So we know what we have in front of us, and they also know what they have in front of them, too, as well. Last time I checked, they were five or some games in first place. They are already there. They are already in it. Now you turn the page and you're a game ahead, so we've both pretty much got to do our jobs.
Q. There are two records that are intertwined, the home run record and the walk record -- if you had a choice, is there anything about the walk record?
BARRY BONDS: If I had a choice, I would take the home run record. Keep the walk record. (Laughs).
There's hard. It's hard to concentrate through all that. You know, you applied for a job to participate, not observe. But I have a lot of confidence in the guys behind me and I have a lot of confidence in this team. So you walk me, that's fine with me. A couple cuts or two, as well.
Q. Back at home, the Giants fan support is behind you, and even the support on the road is picking up. Are you honored by that?
BARRY BONDS: Yeah, it's a whole different world for me. I've had much negative talk, this is almost overwhelming. But, you know, I will be forever grateful, regardless of the outcome.
Q. Are you sick of us yet in this room?
BARRY BONDS: No, because this is where I feel safe, is when everyone is in one room together. I don't feel comfortable in my locker room and stuff when I'm preparing myself to go to work. That's one time when I'm not a very comfortable -- I don't feel very comfortable in that kind of surroundings with people coming up to me.
Q. You've been getting walked all year long, but have you been seeing even fewer pitches the last few weeks?
BARRY BONDS: 150-something walks, 160-something walks regardless if they come at this point of time or the beginning of the season, it's still an enormous amount of walks.
I've played against Houston a long time, and I've never known them to bypass anybody in the past, or even future. So I don't see anything different. I think maybe in a really tight situation, they may walk, but I've never known the Houston Astros to. They have too many quality pitchers on that side back to Nolan and Mike Scott and all of the rest of them. They have had an outstanding pitching staff as far as I can remember.
So they have pride, too, as well. They have always been up for the challenge.
Q. Do you relish the fact that the pennant race will dictate whether they pitch to you or not, rather than somebody just saying, "I'll give it up"?
BARRY BONDS: I don't know, Houston pitched to me last series. They pitched to all of us last series and they still walked right through us.
They have a very outstanding ballclub and they have a very outstanding pitching staff. It would be a very difficult situation when they are that talented to really just overly pitch around a player. Maybe in a key situation or so, but that team has a very sound defensive team. They are a very powerful offensive team and they have a great pitching staff, as well as a great bullpen.
When you look at some of the other teams, you can probably say, "Sure, they won't pitch to you," but when you look at a staff like that, it would be kind of odd if they did.
Q. You talk about being at your locker and preparing for the game. How do you prepare for the game?
BARRY BONDS: It's just when I come to work, my mind is focussed in on what's at hand, who is pitching, whether it's watching films or just trying to have a whole lot of positive thoughts go through my mind. Just kind of relaxing through all the emotions and everything that's going to happen out on that field.
I basically try to relax my body as much as I can, and then, put all the aggression I have on to the field. There's sometimes I come out late just purposely just so that I don't have to hear the noise and I can stay more focused and prepared, and I'll just come out during my round of batting practice and go back in and try to stay focused and not get too hyped up.
Q. Are there little things that you do to relax yourself?
BARRY BONDS: Yeah, sleep. (Laughs). I sleep a lot at the ballpark, the majority of the time.
Mike Schmidt told me to close my eyes and imagine positive thoughts in my mind, and a lot of times when you close your eyes and reopen them, the pitches are a lot clearer. I practiced that from the first time I ever met him on the field and when I was playing him, and that was always something I kept up throughout my career.
Q. Where you are there sleeping, are you seeing pitches in your head or are you just sleeping?
BARRY BONDS: Kind of both. Sometimes I'm off on a beach, walking around, trying to take the intensity out of my body, trying to just be as relaxed and as calm as I can. I think my reactions are a lot quicker when I'm a lot calmer. A lot of times when you get tensed up, everything slows down. There's a lot of things that -- it's really hard to explain, but it takes a lot of practice to be able to do it.
Q. What are the steps on your at bat?
BARRY BONDS: It varies, who is pitching. It varies from batting practice time. Some woods are different. Some sweet spots are a little bit harder than others. Sometimes in batting practice, the ball will carry a little bit better than with one bat than the other, so you'll notice I'll take two or three out there to kind of get a feel, but the weight kind of changes with who is pitching. The length is always the same, 34" length.
Q. Are you changing bats every at bat because of the record?
BARRY BONDS: No. I change a bat after every home run. I've done it ever since my 500 home run, ever since my dad ran on the field and took it. Something that my Godfather told me that he wished he kept throughout his career that he just gave up; that he wish he had a chance to look back at and just to see it, you know, just reminisce. These are just some of the things that I'm going to hang on for my children, and if they want it, they can have it.
Q. Mark McGwire's No. 70 brought $3 million. What do you think a Barry Bonds record-breaker would bring?
BARRY BONDS: I don't know. I didn't buy the first one. I couldn't answer that question, I'm sorry.
Q. You've always kept your swing consistent from ballpark to ballpark, but when you are looking across the box, have you ever thought could you just hop one out of there?
BARRY BONDS: Every time I get into a smaller ballpark, I imagine they are a lot bigger. I think you are a better hitter in bigger ballparks than you are smaller ballparks, just for the fact that you can take advantage of a smaller ballpark. Your swing doesn't have to be as perfect.
So a lot of my sights are back at our stadium -- or the Cardinals' Stadium, where the field is a lot bigger and I just have to stay more consistent. So I really try to set my sights a lot further than the actual fence would be, just due to the fact that you can take it for granted. And then you get a perfect pitch and you didn't have that perfect swing and you mis-hit it. I'm always imagining that that park is way big.
Q. Given what's going on recently in the world, are you comfortable being the country's great diversion?
BARRY BONDS: I don't feel that I'm the diversion. I feel that we the American people are the diversion. We all have come together, which is probably the most heartwarming feeling I've ever felt being an American citizen. It's unfortunate that something this tragic had to happen for all of us to realize how lucky we are and how grateful we are to have each other, and to love each other, and be in a country with so many different faces and races. It's incredible and it's wonderful, and it's beautiful, and I wish that it didn't take this for us to realize it. But like they say sometimes, it's better late than never, and I'm just glad that we just have it.
Q. Would you feel cheated if you were not pitched to the rest of the season?
BARRY BONDS: No, I don't think that's a fair question, just due to the fact of the situations that are at hand right now. If we get in a situation where we are out of it, L.A. is out of it, because these three games probably will determine what's going to happen, then maybe I might feel a little upset at that time. But if we are all in it, we are all in it. Take it like a man and move on.
Q. After Mark McGwire's '98 and '99 season, people started thinking about 660 and 755. Have you ever thought about reaching those numbers?
BARRY BONDS: No, I never thought about reaching 500. When I got 500, that was probably over my league from whatever I thought I was going to do. Anything could happen. You stay healthy -- I don't know if I'll be around that long, but 755 is a lot of home runs, a lot of home runs.
Q. Have you ever been able to take a step back this season and appreciate what you've accomplished?
BARRY BONDS: No, not yet. I've had too many things happen this year, unfortunately. Right.
Now, I'm just trying to work really hard. We as a team are really trying to work really hard right now. We've come a long way. We've had our opportunities and we've been in this many numerous years as I've been a San Francisco Giant. I think each year, had gets harder, hurts a little bit more, because we feel that we are a good enough team. It's just, unfortunately, it seems like someone is always a little bit better. We are going to try to do our best for the last six games.
Q. The fact that Shane Reynolds has had such success against you, is that part of your mindset as you go out there or is that your mindset with every pitcher?
BARRY BONDS: When I go back and I look at 15 years of baseball and I look at all of the pitchers that have faced me, probably all of them have had more success against me. I've probably had 2,000-plus at bats. When you look at the numbers, they have won more battles than I have won at any point in time throughout my career.
So I may have had the opportunity to hit a home run and win the game, but I probably was 1-for-4 and they got me the other three times. So if you want to get technical, probably all of them have beat me more than I have beaten them.
Q. With the way you were hitting, if you were a manager, would you pitch to you in these situations?
BARRY BONDS: (Laughs). Depends. Probably. It depends what team you are talking about, too. If you are Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, sure. They are the best. When you have the best staff here, Shane Reynolds has been their best, one of one of their best, sure. I'm going to say: "You go out. You know, that's your job. That's why you're the best."
You know when you've got the best, it's my whole dream my whole life is to play against the best. When you get the opportunity to play against the best, or who is considered their No. 1 best, you want their best. You don't want -- I don't want to cheat them by not taking good swings and I don't want to get cheated by them by not getting good pitches. I want their best. I want to be able to tip my hat at the end of the day and say "Congratulations to you." It's just an inner feeling inside all of us, I believe, that, you know, you just want their best and you want to compete and you want to not feel cheated. They don't want to feel cheated; you just want their best. I have a lot more pride to walk off the field and say, "You won," than to not get the chance.
Q. 69 home runs is a lot of home runs. Are you like a golfer that you remember every shot? Do you remember every home run and is which is the best?
BARRY BONDS: The only one I remember is 500. I remember that one most because I never dreamed of being there. That was a dream that I never dreamt of being in. I dream about the World Series. I never make it in the dream, but I dream about it. I never make it in real life, either. (Laughs). But, I dream about it. I never dreamed about hitting 500 home runs. I never dreamed of being where I'm at right now in my career at all.
Q. You talked about the consistency of your stroke, how much tinkering do you do during the course of the season and your career?
BARRY BONDS: No, not at all. I don't mess with it that much. I don't try to fix anything that isn't broken. I tune it up here and there at times and when I lose it a little bit, I try to retune it. Everything needs a tune-up every once in awhile. I run those tires down a little bit, just like any other vehicle, but sometimes I have to just change them. But I don't really tinker with anything. I don't -- it's hard enough to do it consistently the way I'm doing it. I just don't try to mess with it. I try to just fine-tune it every once in a blue moon.
Q. How much has growing up around Major League Baseball as a kid and being on the field, how much has that helped you with what's going on this year?
BARRY BONDS: I think the Giants organization has helped me handle this better than any time or situation in my life. I'm really, really, really grateful for the way that they have handled this situation for me. They have made it really relaxing, really easy to stay focused on what's at happened; never distracting the team and allowing me to still prepare myself the way that I want to get ready for a game and allow the team to prepare themselves the way they want and not take anything away from what our real true goal is, to go to the World Series. If anything, I have to commend this organization for the way they have handled it for me.
Q. What is the most home runs you ever dreamed of hitting in a season?
BARRY BONDS: 30. 30 home runs every year. That's been my goal and I just wanted to stay consistent.
I wanted to also steal 30 bases every year, too, but I didn't know that I was going to get older and slow down. (Laughter.)
Q. Is Dusty Baker, with what you are going through with the home run chase and the pennant race, the guy to best handle all this?
BARRY BONDS: Probably. I mean, you'd have to ask Dusty on that one. Once we get on that field, we are all concentrating on what our jobs are at hand. You know, we have all built a good relationship with Dusty and we pretty much know where he's going to go and a lot of changes and situations are going to happen, and he built that over time and years.
I think Dusty's biggest thing is the main focus as a team. He has not really said anything about the home run thing. He has not really got into long conversations about it. He's been happy for each individual player that's done their job throughout that day, throughout the course of the game.
I think that's what a manager's job is, is to try to basically keep a lot of the main focus off one individual player and keep it in a team environment, and I think Dusty has done a great job on that, as far as keeping everything in a team environment and trying to make sure that our main focus is getting to the playoffs and the World Series; and if it means hitting 60, 70 home runs for one individual and the rest of us do our jobs as a team, then that's what we had to do as a team to get to the World Series, which is really, really commendable on his part.
Q. As you've neared the home run record, have you had a chance to talk to Mark McGwire and has he had any advice for you?
BARRY BONDS: No. I haven't had any opportunity to talk to him at all because I didn't think that it was realistic that I would be here today, and that's the honest truth. But I think everyone needs to understand, Mark set a table. He's the first one, and it's his record and he needs to be recognized for his record. Maris is gone, Babe Ruth; now Hank Aaron is the man, and I think Mark deserves that respect, you know, the single-season home run leader. He has put new hype on this thing and he deserves every amount of respect for being the man.
And me, you know, it's tough. It's really hard because he's the one that made the comment, "Records are made to be broken." No one ever thought it would happen. I thought maybe Sammy might get close. He's the only that ever hit 60. If Mark stays healthy, he might be able to do it again, but no one in their right mind would ever dream that anyone else even had a chance at this.
So it's Mark's record. I have a lot of respect for that. I will always be grateful and say, you know, Mark is the table-setter for this. Whatever happens, if it does get broken, it moves to the next guy. But Mark is the man. Mark is the first one to ever do it and he deserves that respect.
Q. You have said Houston has always pitched to you, but why would they take a chance and pitch to you with only a one-game?
BARRY BONDS: They are a team over the years that have never backed down in any other situation. I've played against Houston for numerous years and I've never known them to back down from any situation. They have been an all-or-nothing team as long as I have played against them. I have seen some teams that will back down at certain times.
But you've got to take into consideration, I hit a lot of home runs against Arizona. We are both fighting for the same thing and Arizona didn't back down, either. They have been like that, too. They are an all-or-nothing team, as well. They are going to win it on their own and be proud about it or they are going to lose it, and Houston has been that same. If that was the case they would not have let Sammy hit those three home runs, either. He would have definitely walked in that game.
Q. You've said in the last couple of weeks 500 meant to you, have you had a chance to reflect on what 71 would mean to you?
BARRY BONDS: No, I haven't because we are in a pennant race. We are here to win a World Series. You know, that's the main goal for a lot of us in this team and a lot of us individually.
The thing is, if you do a record and you win, that just makes it all better. But right now, we haven't had much sleep. I think the day off helped us a lot. We are just, you know, we're under a lot of pressure. I think right now we are just trying to stay relaxed and not feel tensed up and try to reverse the situation that happened to us in San Francisco and that's our main thought right now. Anything else happens after that, that's fine, we'll be able to reflect on that when the time comes. But right now we have to take care of Houston.
Q. With two players reaching 70 the last few years, how often do you think this might happen and who do you think is the best player who might do it? How high do you think it will go?
BARRY BONDS: You know, right now, I don't want to disrespect Mark's record, because I think it's really disrespectful. Whatever happens in the future, allow it to happen on its own. Right now, it's still Mark's record and I will not disrespect him in saying that I believe anyone else could do it, because I really don't believe anyone would be able to do it right now because Mark McGwire is the man who has 70 home runs.
Q. With respect to what you said about Houston and Arizona and facing a team that's basically out of it, if they have two runners on and two runs down, do you have any respect for them walking you to put the winning run on first base?
BARRY BONDS: I have respect for the game of baseball, so it really didn't matter for me. You have to have respect for the guy hitting behind you. You have to believe and have a lot of confidence.
Baseball is different. It's really difficult -- there's never going to be one man that's going to carry any baseball team into a World Series and there's never going to be one man that's ever going to win a World Series for a baseball team. It's just too difficult. You can't do it. You need all nine players, if not 25, or 40 mean, whatever that roster runs to. You need every single individual at that time, and that's just the bottom line to it.
Anyone in baseball -- any writers think that one man is ever going to win a World Series for anyone, whoever he is, I'd like to meet him, pick his brain and figure out how he's go to do it, and follow him like a shadow because it's never going to happen. It's never happened in the game of baseball, and I don't think it ever will.
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