I joined a podcast today, and to prepare for it, I feverishly prepared some great Barry Bonds numbers to back his Hall of Fame-worthy resume. Just in case you were unaware of his all things awesome:
Bonds numbers – career (1986-1992 with PIT, 1993-2007 with SFG)
- 762 HR (most all time)
- 514 SB
- .444 OBP (6th all time – Williams, Ruth, John McGraw, Billy Hamilton, Gehrig)
- 168.0 fWAR (2nd all time – Ruth)
- 182 OPS+ (3rd all time – Ruth, Williams)
- 2,558 walks (most all time, more walks than hits than all but five players on this year’s ballot)
- .309 ISO (3rd all time – Ruth, McGwire)
- .435 wOBA (13th all time)
Bonds numbers – single-season
- .609 OBP in 2004 in 617 PA with 232 BB (120 IBB)
- .500+ OBP four times (01-04)
- Fourteen 100+ BB seasons
- 73 HR in 2001
- Six-time 200+ OPS+ (92, 93, 01-04)
- Three best single season OPS+ of all-time (01, 02, 04)
- Ten seasons of 20 HR-20 SB (87, 90-98), Five of 30-30 (90, 92, 95, 96, 97)
In summary, the dude was good.
I remember being in a store as a kid and seeing some Bon Bons. I thought that’s what I would call Barry Bonds if he ever came to the Giants. Eventually, he did and for a lot of people my age, Barry Bonds is what we remember about the Giants. Sure, we remember Will Clark, Matt Williams, Billy Swift, John Burkett, Rod Beck, Bill Mueller, Robb Nen, Benito Santiago, Jeff Kent, Rich Aurila and the like, but as is the HR mark, Barry is probably #1 with most of us in terms of how often he appears in our memories of experiences with the San Francisco Giants. Hell, he may even be the reason a lot of the older teens and 20-somethings have been lifelong Giants fans.
I remember reading an article about Barry Bonds really leading the Giants out of the sewer and blessing AT&T Park — a park with a body of water waiting in right field begging for him to take a swim in it. It reminded me of what a hero Bonds was in leading the Giants to big things. Division titles and playoff appearances, and you may remember his 2001 campaign of 73 HR the most, but I remember the 2002 World Series the most. Game 2 in Anaheim, the slugfest. The one where Barry Bonds killed crap out of a Troy Percival pitch and put it out there so far into RF a camera caught an Angels player saying something to the effect of, “I’ve never seen anyone hit it that far.” That’s my Bonds memory. I know people have theirs (Bonds vs. Gagne, 756, his HR with a spin move, etc.). Others, especially outside of San Francisco have a whole ‘nother set of Bonds memories.
His insistence on what he claimed to be unknowingly using steroids was an act we wanted to believe but most of us knew it probably wasn’t true. Sure the fact that we don’t exactly know what PEDs contribute to a player’s ability is something, but how he was vilified and lied has stuck with me. The name “Pedro Gomez” is always thought of with “Barry Bonds” for me and I find that unfortunate because I’d rather just associate Pedro with ESPN. The media has put a perspective on steroids and baseball that using it is an unfair advantage over those that aren’t, health risks, etc. etc. etc. A lot of the things I used to “know” were put to rest thanks to the research done in this essay. I recommend reading it, but it will take a little while to read. So now I am confused: Barry Bonds has lied in court and to the public. He also was an amazing baseball player, probably the best I’ve had the pleasure of watching in my lifetime.
As Jeff Passan has written, it’ll be a lot easier to embrace Barry if he comes clean with everyone once his business with the government is over. That will make life easy for me. But what if he never does? I will probably still support him and I will hope he does gain entry into the Hall of Fame although it may not happen while I’m young. As time has gone on, I think less that “Barry’s a bad guy” and more of “Barry lied more than he should’ve” which has made my view of him more positive but still not 100% supportive. I know it’s probably dumb, holding an athlete to the same standards I would a friend, but I just want him to come clean. I would love to be corny and say I support Barry on a scale of 0 to 1 “.762” but… actually let’s just stick with that. 762.
If Barry comes clean with the fans, I think more people will come back to him with open arms. I’m not going to say he owes it to the fans. No. This man has loved the people of San Francisco, and so I will say he owes it to himself to come clean. I can’t think of any one person that it would benefit more than him. We’ll be waiting, Barry.