Long have I served as an unpaid and unsolicited advisor to MLB general managers, and when it comes to the possibility of offering employment to one Barry Lamar Bonds, loudly have I screamed, “Run like the wind!” if Barry or his agent so much as text messages a note of inquiry as to the potential availability of a roster spot this season. Yet here I sit in mid-July, befuddled by the realization that I’ve changed my mind.
When Bonds was run out of town by the Giants prior to the start of the season, even after posting solid numbers in 2007, I was relatively convinced he’d never pick up a bat again, unless it was in self-defense in a California prison yard. If his act had worn thin in his own clubhouse, and in the one American city where he was given a pass onjust about everything that fans elsewhere in the country despised him for, then a change of address certainly wasn’t likely.
But then along came Hideki Matsui and his boo-boo knee … followed closely by New York Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman. Maybe.
One of the hottest rumors in baseball as we inch closer to the July 31 trade deadline has Bonds donning Yankee pinstripes and fighting for at-bats with Richie Sexson, Jason Giambi and others in the Bronx.
The Yankees have done everything they can to quiet such talk, but virtually every report in which Cashman denies having dialogue with Bonds is countered by one that claims a deal is imminent. Ordinarily, I would be disgusted by the Yankees considering the signing of this man, who hasn’t played baseball in nearly a full calendar year, and who is under indictment on federal charges related to the steroid scandal.
But then I realized that I am already disgusted by the Yankees, for an assortment of reasons, and that the potential addition of an equally disgusting player could actually be quite fun.
Hating the Yankees is already the second favorite sport of my summertime anyway, and for them to add one of the most despicable figures in the game to their roster would only give me more ammunition.
Strangely, however, it isn’t the prospect of watching the New York clubhouse imploding all over itself that has me so excited about the possibilities … although that is a major one. Rather, it’s the idea of seeing Bonds, the quintessential hard-case who’d just as soon spit on a reporter as talk to him, being forced to deal with the ravenous New York media that has brought many men to the brink of frustration-borne tears.
The San Francisco baseball media was not exactly known for harsh lines of questioning when dealing with Bonds, whether he was lurking ominously or lounging casually in the Giants’ clubhouse. Kid gloves came standard issue withevery media credential granted reporters here in Bonds’ hometown.
He was the single most controversial player of baseball’s steroid era; the man who chased and finally surpassed Hank Aaron as the all-time home run king, yet he was able to dictate the terms of his own coverage in the local media through his ‘aggressive’ personality, and his influence over club officials who provided him with a protective perimeter whenever he wanted one. Well, they don’t wear kid gloves in New York. They prefer concrete boots.
Truth is, I couldn’t care less whether Barry gets to the Apple and hits .180 with three HRs and 50 strikeouts for the rest of the season, or if he blasts 20 second-half home runs and leads the Yanks to a come-from-behind pennant. The only thing I want to see is how the man who has intimidated writers and reporters for an entire career deals with veteran NYC scribes who actually bite back.
Let’s see Barry try to cordon off his own wing of the Yankee clubhouse like he did in SF. Not even “The Captain” Derek Jeter warrants that type of treatment.
Let’s see Barry force the NYC writers to genuflect and make the sign of the cross in flaxseed oil before speaking to him, the way he did in SF. The bully wouldn’t last two weeks.
I want to see Barry Bonds humbled before he finally goes away. And there is no more humbling place in the baseball universe than Yankee Stadium. Go ahead and sign, Barry. I’ll be watching.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.