ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In a World Series of mostly fabricated matchups -- geographically challenged San Francisco Giant fans chanting "Beat L.A.?" -- there is one that is deliciously real.
Angel bravado versus Barry Bonds.
The team that issued the fewest intentional walks in baseball versus the player who was intentionally walked more than anybody in history.
A group of raging bulls versus a champion counter-puncher just waiting to knock them out.
It could be magnificent. It could be messy. Four days before Game 1 at Edison Field on Saturday, it is alive and piquing.
Wondered Tim Salmon: "Does he ever make an out?"
Growled Troy Percival: "I'm going after him like everybody else."
Explained Scott Schoeneweis: "He is like Babe Ruth."
Warned Jarrod Washburn: "I hate pitching around anybody."
There are as many story lines in this series as flasks in Giant fans' pockets. But there will be only one continuing drama, with characters as clearly defined as a Giant fan's whine.
There is Angel Manager Mike Scioscia. He didn't make a living waving his glove at guys as they crossed home plate, he pummeled them.
There are his Angel pitchers. They don't make a living twirling in the corners, they wing it.
Then there is Bonds, who loves hitting against that aggressive combination of manager and pitcher as much as he loves brushing off a cocksure autograph seeker.
The Angels can't wait to show him they are not afraid.
Bonds can't wait to show them they should be very afraid.
So what gives?
If the Angels are smart -- and Scioscia is old-time Dodger smart -- they will give.
Bonds wants to swing.
Despite the chest-thumping from their fans and jeers from their enemies, the Angels should not let him.
Hey, Angels? The most effective scouting report on Bonds goes something like this:
If one of his swings can tie the score, or give his team the lead, or increase his team's lead, you walk him.
Walk him. Walk him. Walk him.
During the last two seasons, in 879 at-bats, he has recorded 733 total bases, which is close enough to one base per at-bat to make it statistically favorable to walk him.
Then there was Ben Weber's usual unusual take.
"Hey, he can't hit everything out of the park, can he?" Weber asked. "Somebody's got to get lucky and get him out, right? The way I look at it, maybe I'll be that lucky one. So I want to pitch to him."
All the Angels want to pitch to him. At some point during the World Series, they might all get a chance.
It will be wonderful theater. And it could cost them a championship.
Everything that big-bellied bricklayer coach once screamed at your trembling figure in the batter's box is wrong.
A walk is not as good as a hit.
Not when the hitter is Barry Bonds.
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