SAN FRANCISCO -- The National League press conferences just ended and there were only a handful of reporters around each player's table, far less than you normally see. That's because there were a few hundred of us packed into the rear corner of the grand ballroom of the Westin St. Francis as Barry Bonds held easily the most chaotic meeting with reporters since they started herding us into hotel ballrooms in 1999.
Bonds spent 45 minutes with the media, alternately joking and sparring with reporters who were lined up 8-9 deep at his table and were constantly jostling with dozens of cameras and some assorted boom microphones. No topic was off-limits.
Bonds chastised reporters for judging him and said he wasn't concerned that Bud Selig has made no commitment to be on hand for home run No. 756. He said he understands that Hank Aaron "can't put his life on hold and follow me around the continent." He admitted that, like Aaron, he's received racially tinged letters. He wouldn't answer questions about BALCO founder Victor Conte, who was profiled today in USA Today.
He even joked with former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice, who was working for FOX and asked Bonds to judge his softball skills from Sunday's celebrity game. Bonds said Rice, a former contestant on "Dancing With The Stars," was lousy and Rice shot back, "But can you dance?"
Bonds just laughed and said no. Mostly, Bonds said he was thrilled to be playing the game in his home park:
"It's my town, my friends, my people," Bonds said. "I'm having a good time and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm excited I have about two million friends [the number of votes he received] that you guys didn't know about. The game is the most important thing, not anything about me."
The American League press conferences begin in five minutes.
(Photo: Associated Press. Full disclosure: Just noticed two hours after I first posted this that your intrepid Buffalo scribe is at the top left of the scrum)