Bonds' future depends on family
Postseason chat will help left fielder decide next step
SAN FRANCISCO -- Two months ago, Giants slugger Barry Bonds said he intended to play baseball again next season. And although he reiterated that probability on Thursday, he added this caveat: There will be a serious postseason meeting with his wife, son and his youngest daughter at their Beverly Hills home before he makes the final determination.Bonds said he is torn between moving on to the next phase of his life as a full-time dad and husband and coming back next season to chase Hank Aaron's all-time home run mark in earnest. Bonds homered Wednesday night at AT&T Park, giving him 732 in his career -- one behind Aaron's National League record of 733 and 23 shy of the Hammer's all-time mark of 755. His 24 homers on the season are the most in history for a 42-year-old, topping Carlton Fisk, who hit 18 at that age. "It's going to be nice to sit down and talk with my family after the season because they're the ones who are wishy-washy about it," Bonds told MLB.com before going 1-for-3 with a walk in his club's 5-0 win Thursday over Colorado. "I go back and forth. "My wife, Liz, is going to support me no matter what I want to do. She'll be right there behind me. But I can see it in my son's face now that he's playing football. Me being in the stands is a big thing. He was excited to see me there. It was a good feeling for him and for me. My daughter, the first thing she'll say is, 'Can you take me to school?' Even though I've been there a thousand times, she wants to give me a tour of her second grade and her school and all her new teachers. "But then after I'm home for a few days, she wants to go and see me play baseball. So I need to sit down and determine what's the best way to go about doing what I need to do and how I can be the best dad they want me to be when it's all over. If I continue to play, I'll be satisfied with that." Complicating matters significantly is Bonds' admittedly having a great season relating with his teammates and the local writers, who cover the team on a day-to-day basis. "I've probably had a better time this year than I've had in my entire life," Bonds said. "As far as all that's concerned." Right now, there's no guarantee he'll even be back for a 15th season in San Francisco. He can file for free agency after the World Series and take a chance in the open market. Giants executives have repeatedly said they won't determine whether to re-sign him until the end of the season. But they are warming to the idea because Bonds has come on in the last six weeks, hitting 10 homers and knocking in 22 of his 67 RBIs. The 2007 season could be an exciting one at AT&T Park. The Giants are hosting the July 10 All-Star Game. And though they have 11 free agents and the roster may be completely different, Bonds could still be part of the show as he chases Aaron's record. Bonds, of course, is not ready to make a commitment, although he said: "San Francisco is my home and that's where I'd rather be." For Bonds, it's been a confluence of numerous forces this season: His return from multiple surgeries last year on his right knee that limited him to 14 games and five homers and kept him slumping at the plate until August; his prolonged chase of Babe Ruth's magic 714, a milestone he finally passed at home on May 28 to go into second on the all-time home run list; a left elbow that has blown out of proportion at times because of bone chips that are floating in it and ultimately will be surgically removed; and the persistence of the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, who is still pursing a possible perjury charge against Bonds in the long-ago settled case against members of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). Still, Bonds said he's happy with his most recent accomplishments and at peace with himself. "People are going to think I'm crazy for saying this, but I have to thank the media for the way the guys have worked with me," said Bonds, who has been known to have a cantankerous relationship with many individual members of the media throughout his 22-year career. "I have been able to play the game this year the way I've always wanted to play it. I don't have to do an interview every four hours. I've had games when I've hit home runs, but somebody else won the game for us and [the writers] go to that person. "They have given me that. They have allowed that to happen and our relationship has gotten a lot better. It's a good feeling for me. I'm not taking away from the team or from anything else that's going on. It's about team, winning games, other guys contributing and I'm able to just prepare for the next day. I think it's wonderful and I'm going to keep it that way."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.