42 For 42: Mariano Rivera’s 36th Greatest Moment – Mo Strikes Out Barry Bonds
There aren’t many hitters that have come through Major League Baseball in Mariano Rivera’s career that can be considered truly fearsome. Barry Bonds, however, was one of them. Despite his alleged dealings with performance enhancing drugs over the course of his career, Bonds was still one of the best hitters of all time, and the game’s home run king. Whether you like him or not, his matchup with Mariano Rivera during a 2002 interleague game between the Yankees and San Francisco Giants was historic, and the number 36 moment of our countdown.
Bonds, five years away from breaking the all-time home run record, only faced Rivera this one time in his career. The moment sticks out to me because I was at the game at the ripe, young age of 11 years old. I practically begged my dad to take me to the game because I thought that Bonds was amazing, even though there was a part of me that knew he was not hitting all of those home runs cleanly.
Earlier in the same game, Bonds smashed a three run homer in the first inning that went into the upper deck in right field. Sitting in the lower deck in right field, the ball flew right over my dad and I which he hated, but I secretly loved.
Before facing off with Rivera, Bonds was 2-3 on the game with a home run, single and a walk. When Bonds came to the plate with a man on first and one out in the top of the ninth, the game tied at 3, you could feel the excitement.
Mariano had the clear advantage with his cut fastball, simply by virtue of the fact that Bonds had to face it from the left side of the plate. He started Bonds off with a strike, alternating balls and strikes until the count was even at 2-2. After Bonds fouled off a pitch, Rivera threw a high fastball. Bonds never stood a chance, swinging and missing. Rivera won the only matchup between the two titans of the game.
When asked about facing Rivera, Bonds simply said: “He’s nasty. That’s why he’s the best.”