Bonds strikes out on derby decision

What if the Giants threw a home run party and Barry Bonds didn’t come?

That’s exactly what they will be doing Monday. Bonds confirmed Thursday that he would not participate in the Home Run Derby, in what he calls his hometown. So good luck to you folks attempting to sell tickets to the event for upward of $1,000 (one brave soul even wants $3,942 each). The soon-to-be home run king will not be there.

“Nope,” he said before Thursday’s game in Cincinnati. “Especially when you’re 42. You can’t do that.”

Will Bonds be resting his tired legs? No. He’ll be the host of a party a few blocks away with hip-hop artist Jay-Z – and it’s unlikely he’ll spend the event on the couch with his feet elevated. But a superstar has to do what a superstar has to do.

This is not what the people want. Forget the media and the devoted fans. Let’s go to Prince Fielder for his opinion.

“Without him I don’t think it’ll be a good show,” Fielder said when the Giants were in Milwaukee last month. “Especially because that’s his town. He’s got to be in it.”

I could understand Bonds passing on the event if it were being held by another city. It might be a bummer if you were a fan in St. Louis or Arizona and the generation’s most prolific home run hitter didn’t show up.

But, come on, this is San Francisco. Many of the fans in the stands and most of those crowding McCovey Cove in kayaks are among his devoted following. The people who voted him into the All-Star Game. They have spent years applauding and embracing Bonds’ home runs.

The hosts of the party, the Giants, have devoted the past decade to marketing Bonds’ home runs, serenading Bonds’ home runs, measuring Bonds’ home runs, celebrating Bonds’ home runs, encouraging Bonds’ home runs. If you landed here from another planet and turned on the radio or television, you would think the only play in the Giants’ entire history was a Barry Bonds home run.

The derby will be a scenic event – showcasing the pretty ballpark that has showcased Bonds for so many years. The bay will be crowded with souvenir hunters – and they won’t be out there looking for Ryan Howard’s baseball.

Bonds, who last participated in the Home Run Derby in 2004, has hit more home runs into McCovey Cove than any other player – 34 and counting. The Giants are paying him $15.8 million this year for pretty much the sole purpose of hitting home runs. But if the ESPN cameras want to capture Bonds on Monday night, they had better hope reporter Pedro Gomez can land an invite to the velvet-rope party down at Roe Restaurant.

“It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s that you just can’t anymore,” said Bonds, who turns 43 this month. “It’s too long. Too much waiting. Too much sitting around.”

Sounds kind of like being a designated hitter, the role that might be in Bonds’ future.

Skipping the derby would be more understandable if Bonds were on a contender and needed to worry about keeping his swing perfect and productive for his team. But, let’s face it: The Giants’ season is already in full concession mode. The only important thing the rest of the way is home runs. Bonds’ home runs.

So here’s the weird logic behind the decision: Bonds doesn’t want to tire himself out or mess up his swing by hitting home runs, so he can keep himself in good shape to hit his record-breaking home runs.