I drove into Phoenix high on the proximity of a new baseball season and had an enjoyable day at Giants camp, though one prominent player did his best to temper my Arizona enthusiasm.
After visiting the Giants’ minor league complex, I decided to try and catch the end of their game against Oakland with hopes of chatting with Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum.
One of benefits of spring training is that they open the locker rooms during the game so that reporters can talk with players who are done for the day while the game is still going on. I got to the Giants’ locker room in the seventh inning and fortunately caught up with Sanchez as he was about to leave for the day.
Other than clubhouse attendants prepping for post game, the clubhouse was sparsely populated, though Barry Bonds was conspicuously chatting with a couple of other unidentified men. Let’s be honest, anything Bonds does is conspicuous at this point.
By the time I was done talking to Sanchez, it was pretty much just Bonds and myself in the clubhouse and I figured I would just wait for Lincecum down there as Bonds dressed and ate a sandwich. It is hot in Arizona and it is air-conditioned in the clubhouse, it seemed like an easy choice.
Being fully aware of Bonds’ adversarial relationship with the media, I figured there would be no problems as long as I was minding my business. While I have some experience with big league locker rooms, I am far more comfortable in the minor league locker room where a reporters’ presence is often met with excitement and rarely disdain.
After about 10 minutes of looking everywhere but Bonds’ direction, I heard someone address me from across the room.
“You waiting for someone?”
It was Barry.
“Yeah, Tim Lincecum,” I replied as nonchalantly as I could.
“Well is he pitching?” Bonds asked.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“If he is not pitching then he is not going to be down here until after the game,” Bonds said.
“The game is almost over, I figured I would just wait here,” I said while not pointing out that Sanchez had not pitched but had left early.
Bonds paused for a moment and I thought it was over.
“Well, you can’t just stand there,” he said firmly with a stern look.
I thought about my options for a couple of seconds. I knew that no one else was bothered by my presence and that it was within my rights as a media member to stand there if I wanted to. However, I also knew that I did not want to end up as the lead story on SportsCenter. I had already spotted ESPN Bonds’ correspondent Pedro Gomez, so I knew it was a possibility. Figuring that escalating the confrontation was not in my best interest, I calmly walked out of the locker room knowing that I could come back in 20 minutes to talk to Lincecum.
Unfortunately, when I walked into the clubhouse moments after the game ended
Lincecum had already dressed and left.
One might say that it was a case of a reporter who should have stood his ground, but it was just as much of a case of this generation’s greatest player living up to his obnoxious reputation.