…. Bearer Bonds

Today brings us a couple of articles about the possible end of the road for Bonds, something David Pinto noticed first, (as usual) over at Baseball Musings:

…. After all these years of special treatment by the Giants, why do they think Barry will change now? And what, exactly, is the penalty if he disobeys Bochy? The only discipline I can imagine working is benching him so he can’t break the home run record, but that’s going to cost the team wins. If a team signs Bonds, they pretty much have to accept the baggage he carries.

Meanwhile, Filip Bondy of the NY Daily News is still wondering whether Superman will just go away:

…. Here is a lefthanded power hitter, a perfect DH or adequate outfielder, who had an on-base percentage of .454 last season, a cybernetician’s dream, coming on strong in late summer and still capable of hitting a homer every 10 at-bats.

He also may cost an owner no money whatsoever.

“I think from an attendance impact alone, he would be tremendous,” said his agent, Jeff Borris. “He’s such a draw and attraction. You look at Roger Clemens, the Astros drew 4,000 more fans on average every time he pitched. If Barry Bonds draws 4,000 more per game, then an increase of 300,000 over the course of a season is an extremely conservative estimate. You think about how much a family of four spends at the ballpark, and start doing the math.”

Borris is absolutely correct about this. Bonds, 42, needs 22 more homers to break Aaron’s career record of 755. He surely will draw more and more fans as he approaches that mark, possibly around August. You multiply numbers, and Bonds easily can bring in an extra $12 million in revenues – provided he’s not missing games because of injuries or those nasty, pressing legal matters.

Well, yes, he will. But Bondy nails the obvious, whoever signs Bonds will be dealing with a bunch of nags. Nagging injuries, nagging legal battles, nagging moralists railing about erasing him from the record books; and now, nagging “team chemistry” issues:

…. According to sources inside and outside the Giants clubhouse, Bonds exasperated teammates and coaches several times last season when he chose to make himself unavailable in pinch-hitting situations.

Multiple sources confirmed that Bonds had taken off his uniform during the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss at Milwaukee on Sept. 24. The Giants brought the winning run to the plate, but rookie catcher Eliezer Alfonzo hit into a game-ending double play and the loss officially eliminated the Giants from the division race.

Afterward, manager Felipe Alou covered for Bonds, saying it was a manager’s decision.

In another instance April 20 in Arizona, Bonds disobeyed Alou when asked to take left field after drawing a walk as a pinch hitter. Alou had used reserve outfielder Jason Ellison earlier in the game and was forced to move third baseman Pedro Feliz to the outfield, where he hadn’t played all season.

Bonds also raised eyebrows when he didn’t appear as a pinch hitter in a 6-5 loss at Washington on July 27. The Giants were down three runs when Alfonzo hit a two-out, two-run home run in the ninth inning. Bonds had gone back to the clubhouse, so Alou sent Todd Greene to the plate. Greene struck out.

“I saw him with a bat in the tunnel,” Alou said after that loss. “By the time I saw that, the game was over.”

I seem to remember noticing Alou’s failure to use Bonds as a pinch-hitter a couple of times, I’m sure many of you have as well. Games when I sat there and asked why the hell Bonds wasn’t being brought to the plate as either the tying run or the winning run, “What is Alou saving him for if not this moment,” kind of moments. If this story gets it right, well, damn. That’s pretty disappointing.

As the Cardinals showed with their 83-win season, once you get there, anything can happen, (although the Giants had about 15% of the bullpen talent the Cards did). With all the talk, (including by me), the Giants finished closer in the standings to the World Champions than the Cardinals did to the Mets. A couple of key wins could have made the difference down the stretch, or when the team was in the middle of one of their disheartening losing streaks. If Bonds let the team down like this, more than once….

On the other hand, we could be dealing with simple character assasination, designed to prevent other teams from seriously considering Bonds. It could come from the Giants, who would obviously like to . Or, more ominously, it could be coming from MLB, hoping that casting Bonds as a poison pill will effectively force him to retire. Either way, if it turns out that these accusations are not true, if it’s just a bunch of bullshit designed to hurt Bonds chance to continue chasing Aaron, to continue in his chosen profession; well, then that’s simply unconscionable.

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