1. Archive

Bonds still mired in playoff woes

Barry Bonds just won't say it.

The statistics sheet says it. His manager says it. The other team says it.

But Bonds won't admit the pressure of his post-season past and his struggles in the first two games of the National League playoffs are getting to him.

Instead, he says this is a "joyous" time. A "good" time.

"I get to see my mom and dad and grandparents," he says.

But look at his .156 average in the past two playoffs. Look at his 1-for-6 in the first two games here. Look at his bad swings, his poor judgment in the field.

"I think right now Barry Bonds is trying to hit the five-run home run," Pirates manager Jim Leyland said. "He's trying to make the unbelievable play. He's pressing a little bit. It's bothering him."

The Braves say they, too, think Bonds is pressing. "Barry, to me, puts a lot of pressure on himself that he needs to be the one to do the job," said Atlanta's Sid Bream, a former Pirate. "He puts the pressure on himself."

Bonds, of course, is not the only reason the Pirates are down two games to none in the series. Their pitching has failed them, their defense has been unsteady, and they have not hit as a team.

But when you put together the season he did _ .311 batting average, 34 homers, 103 RBI, 39 steals _ when you state your own case for the Most Valuable Player award, when you walk his walk, and when you talk as much as he talks, well, people expect something special.

But when he and Andy Van Slyke struggle as they have, they also can expect criticism.

"If we fail again, it won't be just because of me or just because of Barry," Van Slyke said. "Now having said that, Barry and I have to run some hits together. If we do that, the team will respond."

Leyland espouses the company line that Bonds is just part of the team, that he has to contribute just like the 24 other players.

Bonds is now playing that tune as well.

"I'm not a one-man show," he said. "If I was, you could tell the rest of my team to take a vacation. I could grab a microphone and just sing for 50,000 people."


A list of players who have hit grand slams in AL and NL playoff history:


Mike Cuellar, Baltimore at Minnesota, Game 1, 1970.

Don Baylor, California at Milwaukee, Game 4, 1982.


Ron Cey, Los Angeles vs. Philadelphia, Game 1, 1977.

Dusty Baker, L.A. vs. Philadelphia, Game 2, 1977.

Will Clark, San Francisco at Chicago, Game 1, 1989.

Ron Gant, Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh, Game 2, 1992.