Barry Bonds has returned to baseball as a spring-training instructor with the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m more nervous at this than when I was playing, because as a player, it was only my mind, me,” Bonds said, according to ESPN.com. “Now I’m trying to put that [knowledge] into other players’ minds. I’m a little more nervous being on this side than that side. Hopefully I can just bring some good value to the ballclub.”
Although Bonds has a 10-year personal services contract with the Giants, he hasn’t really been utilized much up till now.
“Collectively within the organization, we felt that given Barry’s desire to continue to contribute to the Giants, we should be open-minded about giving him the same invite that we have given to other players in the past,” Giants CEO and President Larry Baer told the San Jose Mercury News.
Allow him back? Does Barry Bonds deserve another figurative turn at bat in Major League Baseball?
It’s sometimes hard to overlook the dichotomy of his career.
He is Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in career home runs and homers in a season. But the steroids.
He is MLB’s all-time leader in career walks and walks in a season. But the PEDs.
He is baseball’s all-time leader in single-season slugging percentage and on-base percentage. But “the Cream.”
He is baseball’s lone member of the 500-500 (homers – stolen bases) club. But “the Clear.”
Double standard? Mark McGwire has been allowed back in the game, serving as a hitting coach with the St. Louis Cardinals and now the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Williams, a former teammate of Bonds and a player prominently named in the Mitchell Report to have allegedly used PEDs, has not only been allowed back in the game but is in the responsible position of manager with the Washington Nationals. If others who have or may have offended are being allowed back, then Barry should be as well.
Can he help? The controversies Bonds has found himself embroiled in over the years have led many to overlook the fact that he was one of the most talented and intelligent players to ever step over the white lines and onto a baseball diamond. As the son of MLB star Bobby Bonds, Barry was introduced to the game early, gained vast experience, and was fundamentally sound by the time he reached the big leagues. He was for hitters what Greg Maddux was for pitchers. Maddux demonstrated such pinpoint control that umpires started giving him strikes a couple inches (or maybe even a few inches) off the plate as long as he hit the catcher’s mitt. Bonds had such a keen eye at the plate that umpires started giving him the benefit of the doubt on very close pitches that could be called either a ball or strike. So Bonds certainly should be able to teach hitters plate discipline. The seven-time NL MVP should also be able to assist players with the mechanics of the bat and the glove because he was a five-tool player.
Forced out of baseball. With all the PED allegations swirling around him, Bonds could not find employment following the 2007 season in which he became baseball’s all-time home run king. He was not offered a contract even though he was still putting up stats like 28 homers and 132 walks. He didn’t officially retire at that time. He was just no longer permitted to play and faded away. Bonds’ case may be unique because he faced a backlash within MLB not only for his connection to PEDs, but later due to a federal conviction for obstruction of justice stemming from a grand jury investigation into BALCO. But still the reaction to him seems harsher than to other players. This may be due to the fact that he was the best of the best or that he was surly and did not enjoy good relations with the press.
Maybe baseball can now move forward and let Barry Bonds start as an instructor and take on more duties in the future.
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