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Serious Bonds Reflection
By Eric W. Freeman Jr.
April 6, 2006

Serious Bonds Reflection

It’s about time I started writing about something other than why I love Mark Prior, or the fact that Jeromy Burnitz is the “biggest disappointment in Cub history.” (By the way, Asher, I’m honored that, had I been a professional sports writer, you would have considered me for the Bonehead Sportswriter of the Year Award. Thank you for the recognition.) But the biggest issue in baseball today is, as it has been since 2003, Barry Bonds.


And I was never sure where I stood on Bonds. It’s hard, because there are three kinds of people. There are people who respect and love Bonds for everything he has done in his illustrious career. There are also those who loathe this despicable disgrace of a human being, using illegal substances to boost his numbers and cheat his way to becoming one of the top five players of all time. And then there are those who don’t know anything about baseball, like Zach Braff from “Scrubs” who, when spoken to about the slugger, said “Still, I love it when Bonds wins at the game that he plays.” As far as Bonds goes, if I pick a stance, I’ll have to stick with that decision forever. This is a pivotal moment in my sportswriting career. People’s lives have been changed based on their views toward Bonds, and having all of that been said. I have made a decision.


Barry Bonds is one of the top five baseball players of all time.


Yeah, I said it. I’ll say it again. Barry Bonds is one of the top five baseball players of all time. A third of you, like Asher, just said “Well, it’s about time that Bonds is getting a little more respect.” A different third of you are saying “How could you say something inane and selfish? A low-life cheater like Bonds doesn’t merit any sort of valor or dignity.” And another different third of you are still saying “Still, I love it when Bonds wins at the game that he plays.” But I truly believe that Bonds is great, and everyone should fill the stands at any of his games, so that in 60 years, when Bonds is gone, enshrined in the Hall of Fame alongside Pete Rose, we’ll be able to say, “I saw Barry Bonds play. He was the greatest player I’ve ever seen.”


There are two reasons why Bonds is so hated and so despised. The first is his record 73 home runs in 2001. Many people think that Barry Bonds is just the latest of many players to receive an instant power boost practically overnight. But he did go berserk that year. His home run frequency was so magnificent that, at the All-Star Break in 2001, Bonds had 39 home runs, and it prompted Asher to say “I hope Chris Berman introduces him as Barry ‘Why The Hell Don’t I Have 40 Yet’ Bonds.”


Aaron: A similar situation to Bonds? 
The second is that Bonds is just so freaking unbelievable, and he draws comparisons to Babe Ruth. Anyone who has ever taken on the Sultan of Swat (with the exception of Mickey Mantle) has had to deal with a negative depiction by the media. Ted Williams was loathed by the media, and he’s considered, by many, one of the two best hitters of all time. Hank Aaron dealt with security issues, including numerous death threats, in his pursuit of the magical 714. Roger Maris was criticized for every thing he did, and it wasn’t good enough that he won the MVP award and the 1961 World Series. For some reason, I believe that the reason why sports writers are dogging one of the top five baseball players of all time is because he is that good, and some are calling him the best baseball player ever. Do I think he’s the best ever? Of course not. I mean, my top three will always be Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Walter Johnson. Bonds will never be any higher than fourth, but his image is directly controlled by the media. If all the fans liked Bonds, and the media hated him (as they do now), his image will always be tarnished by speculations.


Asher stated in his article that one of the main arguments attacking Bonds is that “Bonds is on ‘roids, and his career stats should be stricken from the record books along with everyone else who is on steroids.” Well, if Bonds was found to be on steroids, then I agree. But the only argument to support this fact comes from the book Game of Shadows, and from a grand jury investigation which proclaimed Bonds’s unknowing use of the “cream” and the “clear.” But he has never tested positive for steroids. And if everyone’s records should be taken away because of steroids, then we have to ask ourselves the question of what might have been. Because we have no idea who took steroids in their careers prior to 1980, and we never will. No one will step forward and say that Ted Williams was on steroids. No one will ever step forward and say that Babe Ruth was on steroids. And there’s no way to tell. You never know. They probably weren’t, but there is still a significant amount of speculation.


But the fact of the matter is that Bonds plays within the biggest media coverage ever recorded, and he’s not a mythic figure whose name will last forever. Yet. And the jealous media will do anything they can to taint his public opinion. Media coverage today is disgusting, by the way. We don’t know many details about Babe Ruth’s private life. Because of programs and reality TV, we know what Bonds eats for breakfast, and we can see him eat his Wheaties. It’s bad enough that we have four different ESPNs, but the all recycle the same people with different opinions on the same tired topics because baseball fans are apparently too lazy to come up with an opinion for themselves. Everyone now has an opinion about Barry Bonds, but they were given help by your Jayson Starks and your Gene Wojciechowskis. No one cared about what Ruth did or didn’t do. They admired the presence of greatness in their ballparks. So, why can’t we do the same for Bonds?


Next issue: as I’m writing this, a response to Asher’s article was submitted by Tony Aubry, basically chastising Asher’s view about Bonds.  Tony said that there were allegations pointing to 1998 when Bonds first started using steroids, and later that he “benefited from steroids from 2000-2004.” I don’t get it. He benefited from allegations? Don’t believe everything that the media tells you, Tony. Remember, these are the same people that told you George W. Bush won the election in 2000, even though Al Gore had better numbers.


A recent photo of Ruth 
Speaking of numbers, bringing up Stan Musial’s and Ted Williams’ numbers does not make them better than Bonds. As Asher will likely school you later, we both believe that Bonds ranks higher than the two of them on the list of “Greatest Baseball Players Ever.” It is because of Bonds’ overall play. I think that 7 MVPs and 8 Gold Gloves, not to mention his exclusive membership in the 500-500 Club, puts him into the top five of all time. Obviously he’s in no league with Ruth (whom everyone describes as “Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens put together.), and in no league with Cobb, but Tony, you only gave information about two stats: home runs and batting average. Lay off of the overrated stats. I just want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy what you are witnessing right now. Because in 20 years, you’re going to think back about this schooling delivered straight from a Red Sox fan, and you’re going to say to yourself, “I can’t believe I ever hated that guy.” And you can try to email me at, but I don’t know if I’ll respond. Nice try, though.

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