SAN FRANCISCO - Everyone was buzzing about Barry Bonds.
National League manager Tony La Russa had just posted his lineup for Tuesday night's All-Star game and Bonds, baseball's prodigy and pariah, was batting second, rather than his customary cleanup spot.
“I'm hitting fourth?” Ken Griffey Jr. said incredulously. “Just tell him to get the guys over for me.”
Loved and loathed, admired and assailed, Bonds was the center of attention Monday as baseball's midsummer celebration returned to San Francisco for the first time in 23 years.
For once Bonds could bask in the sunlight that filled the Giants' ballpark by the bay and the attention of adoring hometown fans, the dual burden of steroid suspicions and his home-run chase lifted for a few days.
“My thing is that I feel disappointed in some of those fans that were influenced by a third-party judgment and have not given me that opportunity just to know me,” he said. “People in San Francisco know me.”