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Bonds nabs record fourth MVP

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2001

NEW YORK -- Barry Bonds is looking for affection, not money or trophies. He's likely to wind up with all three.

''I just want to be wanted,'' he said Monday after becoming the first player to win four Most Valuable Player Awards.

Bonds won the National League MVP in a landslide to cap a record-breaking season in which his 73 home runs broke baseball's biggest season record. He received 30 of 32 first-place ballots and 438 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

''Once you've won it a few times, the standards for you are very high,'' Bonds said. ''It's very difficult to achieve it again.''

The 37-year-old outfielder hit .328 with 137 RBIs for the San Francisco Giants. Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa got the other two first-place votes and finished second with 278 points.

On Tuesday, Bonds can start translating his statistics into cash. That's the first day free agents can negotiate salaries with all teams.

''The most important thing for me is winning,'' Bonds said. ''I really want to have an opportunity to win. I've played a long time.''

His new agent, Scott Boras, quickly modified his client's remarks.

''Is this about money? Of course it is. This is a business,'' Boras said.

Bonds is coming off a $30.7 million, three-year contract and Boras is seeking a contract of up to five years. Since the end of the season, Boras and the Giants have talked just once, a session last Friday dealing with generalities.

While Giants' teammates have been cool to Bonds, he feels appreciated by the Bay area fans. He has bristled at his image -- a detached and sometimes selfish star.

''I learned that there's a lot of people here in San Francisco that do like me,'' Bonds said. ''Sure, my preference is to stay. My preference is to play baseball, but I have to do what is best for me, and I know the organization has to do what's best for them.''

Bonds also won the MVP award for Pittsburgh in 1990 and 1992 and for the Giants in 1993. He finished second to Atlanta's Terry Pendleton in 1991 and to San Francisco's Jeff Kent last year.

''I don't have a home big enough to put trophies in my house,'' said Bonds, who has earned in excess of $75 million in nine seasons with the Giants.

Boras, using Bonds' average of 47 homers in the last five seasons, projects his client will have 802 homers by the end of the 2006, 47 more than Hank Aaron's career record.

Bonds will be 42 by then.

''There's a lot of statistics I can do if I stay at the same pace and stay in the same shape,'' he said.

Before Bonds, the only three-time MVPs were Roy Campanella, Stan Musial and Mike Schmidt in the NL, and Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle in the American League.

''I don't think you could ever dream of surpassing players of that stature. There are no words for it,'' Bonds said. ''I'm just grateful.''

Bonds broke two of Babe Ruth's records last season, walking 177 times -- seven more than Ruth's total in 1923 -- and finishing with an .863 slugging percentage, 16 points higher than Ruth's percentage in 1920. Bonds has 567 career homers, seventh on the career list.

He also broke the season home run of 70 set three years ago by Mark McGwire.

It is not yet clear how much of an effort the Giants will make to retain Bonds, who has failed to lead them to the World Series. The last reigning MVP to change teams was Bonds, who left Pittsburgh in 1992 to sign with San Francisco.

Both Bonds and the Giants were pleased with Friday's meeting.

''In layman's terms, it was a sharing-and-caring session. We were listening to their concerns,'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

Because of Bonds' age and failure to win, it's unclear how many teams are both interested and have enough money to sign Bonds. The Giants are not among baseball's top spenders.

''Can I compete with the Yankees' payroll? The answer is no,'' Sabean said. ''But can I compete to sign Barry? Yes.''

Sosa, who hit .328 last season with 64 homers and a major league-leading 160 RBIs, got the first-place votes of Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune and Mike Kiley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

He was followed in the voting bu by Arizona outfielder Luis Gonzalez (261 points) and St. Louis infielder-outfielder Albert Pujols (222), who became the first NL rookie to finish as high as fourth since pitcher Joe Black was third in 1952.

Pujols had the highest finish by a rookie in either league since 1975, when Fred Lynn was voted the AL MVP and Boston teammate Jim Rice finished third. The only other rookie to finish higher than Pujols was Boston Braves shortstop Alvin Dark, third in 1948.

Bonds gets a $100,000 bonus for winning the award, while Sosa gets $100,000 for finishing second.

The American League MVP is announced Tuesday.



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