This is the End
My only friend, the End.
There is no fear anymore. Not when pitchers face Barry Bonds. For years Barry, a chemically constructed Dark Lord of the Sith, ruled national league pitching with an iron fist. His power led to fear, which led to anger, which led to hate, which led to an unprecedented number of walks.
After missing most of 2005 to knee surgery, would we see the same Barry Bonds in 2006? In spring training it sure looked that way, even with expanded steroid penalties, the bad knee, and advanced age. Pitchers still pitched to him with all the fear, and while his power numbers weren't there, the walks still were. A .500 OBP, even for someone as slow as Bonds, still makes you one of the most valuable hitters in the game.
But without the power, how long will the fear last? Here's Barry's walks as a percentage of AB + W, by month:
Over the years, pitchers would periodically challenge Bonds, just to see if he was for real. They found out all right. Now they challenge him once more, and for the month he's hitting .209 and slugging .419
The fear is gone. The Sith Lord's mask is off. And instead of the monster they once feared, there is nothing but a sad, helpless old man. And he will be shown no mercy.