Barry Bonds proved he was bigger than the Giants, major league baseball and the ever critical media when he showed up for the team’s 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday night.
The capacity crowd at AT&T Park cheered resoundingly for him, and Bonds reciprocated, praising the city, the team and its fans repeatedly. It was a love fest, not surprisingly; in the 15 years Bonds was a Giant, the fans who came to the games loved him.
Except for this instance, though, the Giants have largely turned their backs on Bonds. Before the start of the season, the public relations department assured everybody that there would be several reminders of Bonds around the park. I often walk around the park during games, but I guess my eyesight must be weak because I haven’t seen these reminders. Now, they claim that they’ll be honoring Bonds in some way in the future. When? In the 22nd century?
Meanwhile, the media continues firing away at Bonds. One San Francisco columnist, angry because the Giants ignored his advice not to re-sign Bonds in 2007, has twice insisted that losing Bonds from the dressing room would automatically make the Giants five games better, so they’d finish with 76 wins. Good luck with that one. Though nearly half their schedule is against the hapless Washington Nationals (the Giants swept all seven games) and the wretched NL West, the Giants are on a pace to finish 70-92.
More significantly, only three teams in major league baseball have worse records.
Local media members also like to blame Bonds for the team’s slide since 2005, though that was because of bad decisions made by Brian Sabean on players for Bonds’ supporting cast.
Sabean’s apologists like to say the decisions were forced on him by Peter Magowan and Larry Baer. So, he’s spineless, not incompetent? I’m not sure Sabean would prefer that interpretation.
In truth, the decision to bring back Bonds for the 2007 season was a good one. It gave the fans who had watched him all these years a chance to see his successful drive for the all-time home run mark, indeed the only reason to watch the otherwise dismal team which went 71-91.
Increasingly, it appears that season will be Bonds’ last in the majors, though even this late, there are two American League teams who could use him as a DH.
The surprising Tampa Bay Rays, though they’re leading by a solid margin in the AL East, have 36-year-old Cliff Floyd, who’s hitting .261 with eight homers and 22 RBIs, as their DH.
The team which could really use him is the New York Yankees, who trail both the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins in the wild-card race, and are a distant third in the AL East.
The Yankees are alternating Jason Giambi and Richie Sexson as their first baseman/designated hitter. Giambi is hitting .252 with
23 homers and 67 RBIs, Sexson .225, 12 and 36.
Bonds would be easily better than either one, but when the Mariners released Sexson, he was their choice, not Bonds.
Commissioner Bud Selig does not want Bonds in the game, and even the Yankees won’t buck him.
It’s a shame, but one thing is clear: For all the harsh words that have been said and written about Bonds, right now, he’s standing taller than any of his critics.