Barry Bonds has a trial date now — March of 2009 — so now comes the chorus of “why won’t anybody in major league baseball sign poor Barry Bonds?”
I don’t claim to know. But it doesn’t really shock me either.
Let’s see … he’s 43 years old, and a PR nightmare, and a clubhouse tumor, and in legal hot water. You don’t exactly have to be a Barry-Bonds-ophobe GM or owner to look at all that and think, “eh, maybe not”.
Whether right now is the ideal time for baseball to grow a conscience, or not, who knows? Who cares? Any time is a good time to grow a conscience. To quibble over the “when” is to miss the point of why not having one is a bad thing in the first place. And where is the criticism within the media — i.e., the media that was so in love with Bonds during his various record chases? When is the proper time for them to grow a conscience?
And then of course there are the arguments about stats. He hit 28 HR last year in 340 AB, and had an OBP of .480. Nice numbers, especially if he takes them to the AL and becomes a DH, so that his lack of speed on defense is not exposed. Still not worth all the hassle noted above? Apparently not.
Or, maybe an unofficial edict has been handed down by Bud Selig, who never fails to miss a trend 10 minutes after his lawyers tell him about it. Since baseball ownership has never shown much talent for avoiding PR nightmares and clubhouse tumors and old guys before, that leads me to speculate that maybe the whole legal hot water thing has finally pushed baseball “leadership” to do something proactive for a change. Maybe Selig knows something that we don’t; lets hope so, actually. Maybe Selig figures “he’s got Babe’s career HR run record, and Hank’s, so it’s time to go away now”.
As for me, I could not care less about Barry Bonds, or what he does this year, or next year, or the whole rest of his life. The reality of running a sports team is that you don’t hire stats, you hire people; those people affect the team and its public image in many ways, and not all of them take place on the field.
If it has taken this long for baseball to grow a pair, well, good for them. Barry Bonds is an entire sideshow unto himself, not least because of the media clamoring to talk about him.
The game itself is probably better off for Bonds sitting on the sidelines.