Rosen: Did the Giants juice the radar gun in this legendary Barry Bonds at-bat?

From Michael Rosen at on December 17, 2019:

Late in the night of April 16, 2004, Barry Bonds dug in against Dodgers closer Eric Gagne with a man on first base. It was the bottom of the ninth, and the Giants trailed 3-0.

The two players were at the height of their powers. In 2003, Gagne won the Cy Young with a 1.20 ERA in one of the most offensive-friendly environments in baseball history. Bonds, of course, would go on to post a 1.421 OPS in the 2004 season, walking in 37.6% of his plate appearances.

Save for an 0-2 curveball pitch, Gagne went to his fastball for each of the seven pitches. After blasting the sixth pitch foul into McCovey Cove, Bonds took Gagne deep to center on the seventh. Ultimately, the result didn’t matter. Gagne retired the next two hitters, and the Dodgers won 3-2 in a relatively meaningless regular season contest. But the at-bat has lived on in the memory of fans, appearing apropos of nothing in blog posts over the last decade-and-a-half. It likely has to do with the symbolism of it all: two players, both of whom used performance-enhancing drugs in their playing days, perfectly personifying an era of baseball characterized by cartoonish power.

But it’s also due to two rumors long connected to the showdown. In one rumor, Gagne and Bonds had agreed to a bet that Gagne would only throw heaters in their next match-up. In an interview at the SABR Analytics Conference in 2018, Gagne mostly confirmed the veracity of this rumor.

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Originally published: December 19, 2019. Last Updated: December 19, 2019.