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Monday BP: Barry Bonds vs. Eric Gagne

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Reliving one of the better at-bats in Giants history.

Dodgers v Giants Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I made a change to the daily articles on April 17. I started including a section called “Did Barry Bonds hit a home run today?” which you’ll find near the bottom of every BP, seven days a week.

The idea was simple: Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter in MLB history, he hit more home runs than anyone, and it would be fun to remember some of them, relive some of them, and just generally be in awe at how many dingers he hit in a San Francisco Giants jersey.

My timing was horrible, because on April 16, 2004, Bonds hit a home run against Eric Gagne in what was a truly sensational battle between an elite batter and an elite pitcher.

I just had to miss the cutoff by one day, didn’t I?

So we should just watch the whole at bat and appreciate it today.

Baseball at its greatest.

At the time, the home run was obviously my favorite part. But now that I’m older and understand baseball a little more than I used to, I find myself more drawn to Bonds turning on a 101 mph fastball and putting it into the water a good 50 feet foul.

I cannot fathom the bat speed necessary to pull a 101 mph pitch, let alone to hit it a mile in the process. How many players in MLB history could do that?

Every time I watch this video I’m also reminded of the fact that Eric Gagne won the 2003 Cy Young Award, which robbed Jason Schmidt of being a Cy Young winner. I always wonder how differently we’d remember players if they pulled off the sorts of semi-arbitrary and luck-influenced feats that fans hang onto.

Do Giants fans remember Schmidt more fondly if he won a Cy Young, instead of being a runner up? Probably, though it’s not like anyone has bad memories of Schmidt.

That said, even though relievers winning Cy Young Awards is crazy (Schmidt was worth 3.0 rWAR more than Gagne that year!) if it’s going to happen, it might as well happen to a player with a 0.86 FIP and 15 strikeouts per nine innings.

Didn’t strike Bonds out though.

On that note . . .

Did Barry Bonds hit a home run today?

It would be silly if he didn’t.

April 27, 1996: Against the Florida Marlins, Bonds hit a pair of home runs off of John Burkett. A 2-run shot in the 3rd inning scored Steve Scarsone, and gave the Giants a 4-0 lead. A solo home run in the 5th inning gave the Giants a 5-1 lead, and they would win 6-3. They were his 8th and 9th home runs of the year.

April 27, 1997: Against the Houston Astros, Bonds hit a solo home run in the 1st inning off of Shane Reynolds. It gave the Giants a 2-0 lead, and they would win 3-2. It was his 3rd home run of the year.

I hope your Monday is wonderful.