THE PUBLICIST: The Oscars and Emmys have nothing on the All-Star Game

So I was standing next to the batting cage at the All-Star Game warm-ups in Chicago last week when I thought I heard the fans shouting my name.

So I was standing next to the batting cage at the All-Star Game warm-ups in Chicago last week when I thought I heard the fans shouting my name.

Wow, such devoted readers here, me thinks. Turns out, they were all clamoring for some guy named "Barry." His last name was Bonds, I believe. Oh, sure, Barry can hit 'em out of the park, but can he turn in a witty, insightful column every week? I doubt it. So why does he get such adoration? And make no mistake, it was a love fest. He was a rock star among rock stars. He was the center of a Windy City media storm. There were so many cameras and reporters on the field it reminded me of the Oscars. Bonds' appearance caused a stir I haven't seen since Garth Brooks bolted the line at the People's Choice awards. Pro athletes haven't gotten the best publicity as of late, but the 24-hour sports coverage on ESPN has legitimized the concept of athletes as superstar entertainers. We tune in by the millions to see them swing, shoot, hit, and score. And we stick around even longer to hear them talk about it. Which is why a dozen journalists, and yours truly, were following Bonds... Barry Bonds... around the field like puppies, hoping some dollops of wisdom might be shared. As it turns out, a rather interesting banter did develop between Barry and a tall blonde softball pitcher, Jenny, who was trying to goad the star outfielder into letting her pitch to him. This attractive woman had apparently already whiffed several prominent players, and wanted the biggest notch of all on her bat rack. After batting practice, we were all hustled off the field and into our respective press boxes. There were three boxes in use, with a decided pecking order. The main box, directly above home plate, was for A-list press, with B and C outlets resigned to auxiliary boxes on the left-field side. As a roving observer, I was free to wander through them all, sifting through snack tables for the tastiest morsels. Eventually, I settled into a field-level seat with the "civilians." I was amazed at the incivility of Chicago fans. They seemed to boo just about everyone, including some former hometown players. It may be the city of broad shoulders, but don't try to cry on them. This is the All-Star locale of booers. I was happy to head back to Milwaukee, where they reserve their disdain for players who strike innocent sausages on the head. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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