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BONDS WALKS AWAY WITH SEVENTH MVP

Barry Bonds was hanging out with Michael Jordan a couple of days ago when Jordan asked Bonds if he understood the magnitude of what he was accomplishing.

"I said I don't really think about it, Mike," Bonds said Monday after winning his fourth straight -- and seventh overall -- National League Most Valuable Player award.

"I want the championship," he told Jordan.

A World Series title is all that has eluded Bonds in his Hall of Fame career and he admits that time is beginning to run out. He has two years remaining on his contract and didn't rule out retiring when his contract is up.

"I need to win a World Series," Bonds said. "I've won enough individual awards. I don't have many more swings left in me and I really want to try to win a World Series most of all."

The San Francisco Giants left fielder became the oldest player to become the MVP of a major North American professional league. The 40-year-old received 24 of 32 first-place votes and 407 points Monday in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to earn the award for the fourth straight season.

"I don't know if one is better than the other. I think they're all overwhelming," Bonds said. "You almost get lost for words, the kind of things that are being accomplished in my career.'

Los Angeles third baseman Adrian Beltre was second, getting six first-place votes and 311 points, followed by St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols with 247 points.

Bonds was asked during a telephone conference call how he can continue to put up the numbers he puts up in his advancing age.

"I just want to know why, at my age, I can't get on the news and have someone say he's just getting better with age?" Bonds said. "Can't I just be good? People are just gifted with a talent. I can't explain it."

Bonds is the only baseball player with more than three MVP awards and the only one to win more than two in a row. Willie Stargell previously was the oldest baseball MVP, sharing the 1979 NL award at 39 1/2 with Keith Hernandez. Charlie Conerly of the 1958 New York Giants (38) was the oldest NFL MVP, while the oldest NBA and NHL MVPs were both 35: Karl Malone of the 1998-99 Utah Jazz and Herb Gardiner of the 1926-27 Montreal Canadiens.

Among the four major sports, Bonds is second in MVPs to the NHL's Wayne Gretzky, who won nine.

Bonds' season was unparalleled statistically. He hit .362 to win his second NL batting title in three seasons and shattered the major league record with a .609 on-base percentage, topping the previous mark of .582 he set two years ago.

He walked 232 times, 34 more than the previous record he set in 2002 and more than 100 better than anyone else in baseball this season. His 120 intentional walks obliterated the old mark of 68, also set by Bonds in 2002.

Bonds hit 45 homers in 373 at-bats, while Beltre hit a major league-leading 48 in 598 at-bats and Pujols had 46 in 592.

Bonds this year became only the third player to hit 700 career homers, and with 703 trails only Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).

D.C. move can go ahead

NEW YORK -- Arbitrators ruled Monday against the former limited partners of the Montreal Expos in their case against former controlling owner Jeffrey Loria, clearing Major League Baseball to move the franchise to Washington.

Jeffrey Kessler, the lawyer for the limited partners, said they will drop their attempt to gain an injunction to block the move. Baseball owners are scheduled to vote on the relocation Thursday.

Around the majors

* Al Leiter became a free agent when the New York Mets declined his $10.2 million option and decided to pay a $2.1 million buyout. The left-hander went 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA last season.

* Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen had successful surgery on his left hip and should be fully recovered in time for spring training. The right-hander had a career-best 47 saves last season, matching the club record and tying for the NL lead.

* The Angels exercised the contract option on catcher Bengie Molina for next season, but declined to do the same for pitcher Ramon Ortiz. The right-handed Ortiz, 31, will remain on the Angels' 40-man roster and be eligible for salary arbitration.

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