Saturday, December 02, 2006
The San Francisco Giants rejected Barry Bonds’ request for arbitration yesterday, which means there’s a very good chance they don’t want him back in 2007. Instead, the team is making a big play for Manny Ramirez, after losing out on bidding wars for players like Soriano, Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews and Juan Pierre. I really can’t blame them. Take away all of the steroid stuff, put the records aside, ignore all of the bad press the guy has received, and the bottom line is that Barry Bonds is no longer an everyday player. He can’t play in day games that follow night games, and last season he would always miss at least one game each weekend. He’s also become a real liability in the field and cost the Giants several games last year with his bad fielding. I live in San Francisco, so I got to see Barry a lot last season, and to be honest, he looks like a man who is sticking around just to break a record. With a career total of 734 home runs, he needs just 22 more to make history and pass Hank Aaron as the all-time leader. But, now it seems like no one wants to have anything to do with the guy. The way I look at it, he brought all of this upon himself. I have been in Barry’s presence a couple of times. I saw him play for Serra High School in San Mateo many years ago. He had an entourage way back then. I met him once when I was producing a TV commercial for Fox Sports and I sat down with him one time when I was covering a charity event for a newspaper I was writing for. Both times he seemed withdrawn, sullen, self-absorbed and acted like somewhat of a jerk, basically. I saw him ridicule people and refuse to sign autographs for little kids. I know he’s had a lot of problems with the press, but when I met him, I was totally willing to approach him like just another human being. He wanted none of it. So, the bottom line is this – where will Barry Bonds end up in 2007. The Oakland A’s showed interest at one point, but now it looks like they are going to sign catcher Mike Piazza instead. The Rangers were in the market a while back, but who knows now. The American League obviously makes more sense for Bonds, because he will be able to help a team a lot more as a designated hitter. Teams might be clamoring for the man a little more if he had shown any signs during his career of being more of a clubhouse leader. A club might sign him so that he could mentor their younger players. But, Barry’s attitude and reputation make that impossible. What on earth could any rookie learn from him? How to distance yourself from your teammates? How to assemble an entourage that will specialize in kissing your rear 24/7? How to be surly and snap at people? These are not the qualities of a person that anyone would ever want to be around, regardless of the profession. I hope Barry Bonds ends up with Kansas City or Tampa Bay. Let him get his tainted record with a last place team, because the man doesn’t deserve anything better. And he did it all to himself.