Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Barry Bonds

Tonight is Barry Bonds' last game in a home uniform for the San Francisco Giants. I bleed orange and black, and it has beeen a wild, fantastic ride with this incredible athlete and all too human man. I remember when they signed him that I could not believe our good fortune. It quickly became obvious that his being a Giant was a coming home, and that has always been a subtext that non-Giants baseball fans often miss.

The great baseball franchises never forget their own story. We are one of the oldest franchises in sports, and our living legends are ever present. I am sure that they, like the rest of us, cringe at Bonds' discomfitted misanthropy. But then he has a gentlemanly moment just often enough to make us want to love him. I always figure that what makes me love a sports star is what he does in the contest. I could not care less whether Michael Jordan gambles ... but what a sweet jump shot. I almost suspect a star like Tiger Woods who is great and apparently also a nice guy ... aren't great artists supposed to be abrasive and disruptive like jock itch or salt in your lemonade. But Bonds' abrasiveness is of a leontine variety. When it comes right down to it, nobody likes him ... maybe his kids, not likely whatever wife he is on. Mom, probably. Dad has left this mortal plane, and he was abrasive himself, though no comparison to his progeny.

But who cares if you'd let him in the house for dinner when he can electrify a ball park unlike anyone else. The steroids stuff seems like the hysteria of the untalented majority ... I've written about this here and here.

I'm glad we're letting him go ... I think he should have the class to call it a career, but instead we will be tormented by a winter-long barrage of speculation about who might swallow their gum and invite him on in. Speculation centers on the Mariners and the Rangers. He's probably too proud to go to the Royals or the ill-named Devil Rays, but what a ploy that would be for otherwise irrelevant franchises.

So, Barry, thanks for the memories. What else can I say.


He ended it classy, though. Hit a hard fly ball to Death Valley, the deepest part of the park in right center. Then he hugged Jake Peavy, the soon-to-be-great Padres pitcher who threw him a real pitch in a game the Padres are winning 9-2. Then a last tip-of-the-hat tour on the field, and he is gone.

Kruk says, "it was our pleasure to have been able to tell his story." Baseball is more about the story than most sports. Love him or hate him, Barry Bonds is a story that will long long be told.

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