We at SoSG don't like to kick a guy when he's down...unless it's a Giant. And if it's Barry Bonds, then we're bringing out steel tipped boots (to go against his armor-plated elbow guard, of course).
Jayson Stark over at ESPN just posted a piece on the limited market for Barry Bonds. The blustering protestations of Bonds' agent Jeff Borris notwithstanding, the fact of the matter is that in a free-agent market with few marquee players available and ridiculous sums of money flying around, everyone is overlooking the player who should be the most exciting story of the 2007 season. An article in the New York Times this weekend indicated the same sentiments, reflecting few suitors for the man that would be home run king.
Juxatposing the lack of interest in Bonds against historical accounts of Hank Aaron's chase is striking. We've all seen the old Aaron highlights of him rounding the bases after 715, met during his home-run lap by some crazy fans. Numerous books have been written on Hank Aaron and his pursuit of the home run record over thirty years ago, for which 35 to 40 million people were compelled to tune in to his record-setting game. Today, for Bonds, the only book mentioned is "Game of Shadows." Bonds' reality show went unwatched, and even Pedro Gomez' ESPN reports from the Giants games, when Bonds chased his 715th homer to beat the Babe, were non-events.
And now, no team will have the player who is only 21 home runs short of the all-time record, a player who could easily bring in millions of dollars in gate revenues alone (a point the New York Times referenced, as they estimated it could be an incremental $1M per win (and Bonds is estimated to bring in an incremental four to five wins) and $40M if the team makes the postseason).
What happens if no one chooses to employ Bonds? If he is cast aside and forgotten like Sammy Sosa was for the 2006 season? If he is left agonizingly short of his milestone home run goal, like Fred McGriff (493) or Andres Galarraga (399)?
It is a sad, sad state of affairs when no one is interested in Bonds, and it's worthwhile to take a second and realize how pathetic this situation is. Whether it's the alleged steroid use, the circus that surrounds him, the lack of camaraderie he brings to a team, or even the secret hope that he won't break the record at all, it is just a sad reflection on Barry and his legacy. I'm not weeping, but I can't help but notice as other athletes with sordid pasts, big egos, and felonious transgressions get mutliple chances and even compelling storylines, while Barry gets nothing more than an afterthought.
As a Dodger fan, the only thing sadder is that the Giants, who will likely end up taking him back in the first place, probably won't have to pay as much now to re-sign him.