Barry Bonds

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by hchamp, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. hchamp

    hchamp Senior member

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    MLB

    Baseball commissioner Bud Selig released a statement after Barry Bonds tied the all-time home run record:

    "Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League Baseball's home run record. No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable.

    "As I said previously, out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, either I or a representative of my office will attend the next few games and make every attempt to observe the breaking of the all-time home run record.''
     


  2. hchamp

    hchamp Senior member

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    Posted on Sun, Aug. 05, 2007


    Kansas fan saw a different Bonds

    SAN DIEGO | They’re holding up asterisk signs. Yelling about steroids. Security guards escort Barry Bonds to and from his position in left field.

    Someone, in a rare quiet moment here at Petco Park, screams loud enough for the whole park to hear, “Hey Barry, you’re a (jerk)!”

    But come with us away from the taunts, away from the hatred. Barry Bonds is not a (jerk) to everyone, you know.

    “I love my Barry,” says Virg Navarro, a 60-year-old woman who lives in Hutchinson, Kan. “He’ll always be my Barry. What a wonderful young man. Always smiling. Such a good man.”

    Navarro doesn’t care about BALCO. Doesn’t worry about Bonds’ often-surly attitude toward fans. She’s seen a side to Bonds — who on Saturday tied Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record — that you haven’t.

    She’s seen Bonds wake up early to fix her omelets. She’s seen Bonds be a role model for her son, teaching him how to throw, how to catch, how to swing. She’s seen Bonds be please-and-thank-you for three months as her houseguest when she was a hostess while he played for a summer team in Hutchinson.

    This was back in 1984, and although she’s had minimal contact with him since, Virg Navarro will always remember Barry Bonds as a sweet young man who calls her mom and cleans up after himself and puts everyone at ease with a smile.

    “I took him everywhere with me,” Navarro says. “My niece went to ballgames with him all the time. Yeah, we had fun when he was here. I’d love to introduce him to anybody. Anybody.”

    Just for a moment, forget the accepted image of Barry Bonds. Arm yourself with Navarro’s perspective. What if you saw the side of Bonds that she remembers? What if Bonds were more Tony Gwynn, less Terrell Owens?

    How would that change your opinion of his approach to Hank Aaron’s all-time home-run record?

    How would that change your opinion of baseball’s steroids era?

    •••

    You know, Michael Jordan cheated on his wife. Paid his mistress to keep quiet.

    Dontrelle Willis was arrested for DUI, Charles Barkley once spit on an 8-year-old girl, and Tom Brady is dating women at a staggering rate.

    The difference?

    “(Brady) built up so much equity and goodwill that the fans just aren’t willing to go negative,” says Peter Roby, head of Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. “I don’t think the media is willing to do it, either. Either they’ve come to like him as a person, and/or they know the fans themselves are going to crucify the media if they go negative.”

    Assume for a moment that the allegations of steroid use are true. Assume for a moment that Bonds’ home-run totals are artificially enhanced.

    The easy out is to say it’s strictly about race, but what of America’s willingness to ignore the infidelity and gambling scandals of Jordan? Or how about Barkley being arrested for throwing a man through a plate-glass window but remaining one of basketball’s most popular figures?

    More and more, it’s obvious that we — fans and media — judge athletes with a double standard. There are plenty of accusations Lance Armstrong used illegal drugs, yet he’s mostly given a pass after dominating a sport that’s killing itself with drug use.

    Sammy Sosa was caught with cork in his bat and has been implicated for steroids use. Yet, here he is, back in baseball, 604 homers and counting. Fans may not completely believe his numbers are legitimate, but they’re not crushing him with taunts, either.

    Is it a coincidence that Sosa is the man who looks into cameras and says, “Baseball’s been very, very good to me,” the smiling face of the 1998 home-run chase?

    “Right now,” says Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert, “we need our athletes to be likable, charismatic and funny, and more of a safe choice than a lot of them are. Certainly, marketers are looking for that now.”

    •••

    It’s not just Navarro who thinks of Bonds with a smile.

    The image of Bonds as a (jerk) is so accepted now, so pervasive, it’s sometimes easy to imagine him keeping a kennel of puppies at home just so he can kick them at night. But he’s not all bad, just like Jordan and Willis and Brady aren’t all good.

    Twins All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter talks of a big-brother figure who’s always willing to give advice or grab the dinner check.

    “I never pay for anything when I’m with him,” Hunter says. “You buy me dinner, we’re cool.”

    Jeff Pearlman’s biography Love Me, Hate Me illustrates all sides of Bonds’ complex personality. The most surprising is the good side.

    Charisma: Did you know Bonds does dead-on impersonations of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder?

    Kindness: Did you know he once drove though snow to arrive before 8 a.m. at a rural grade school, stayed four hours to play with kids, then waived his fee so that it could be used for the school’s athletic fund?

    Generosity: There are friends who talk of Bonds buying them motorcycles and helping them with business ventures.

    What if you saw more of that and less of his frowning? What if you heard more about him helping friends than you did of him being rude to fans?

    Clearly, he is capable of both.

    What has his decision to be more of the (jerk) cost him?

    •••

    The biggest thing dogging Bonds right now is steroids — not his personality. But it’s possible that how we perceive the former has everything to do with the latter.

    Mark McGwire mostly received the benefit of the doubt until his I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-the-past performance on Capitol Hill. Sosa is back homering and hopping and blowing kisses in Texas.

    What if Bonds smiled more, made himself more accessible to fans? What would we think then?

    “I think then you’d hear more stuff like, ‘Yes, maybe he did steroids, but he’s not the only one,’ ” Dorfman says. “Instead of him being made the example, and set apart from everybody, I think he probably would be (considered) more one of many. He would be treated a little better, and maybe treated a little nicer by fans outside San Francisco.”

    Which would completely change the way fans view this so-called steroids era.

    Baseball is not as popular as the NFL, and its stars aren’t marketed quite as well as the NBA’s. But Bonds’ otherworldly talents gave him the opportunity to be the sport’s most popular and marketable player of the last two decades.

    Think about it. He’ll end up as the game’s all-time home-run leader, and he also once stole 52 bases in a season. He’s gone 40-40 in a season, 700-500 in his career, and has eight Gold Glove awards.

    What’s not to like?

    Two years ago, Mastercard stopped negotiating with Bonds when it became clear the allegations wouldn’t go away. He once put his name on a cereal brand, but it tanked in part because of his refusal to help with the marketing. His shoe deal is with Fila, not Nike or Reebok, and when’s the last time you saw him in a commercial?

    Last year, Sports Illustrated reported he made $2 million in endorsements. Compare that with $7 million for Derek Jeter or $6 million for Alex Rodriguez.

    “He wasn’t a marketable guy,” Hunter says. “If he had that good personality, a different personality, he would have been bigger than Michael Jordan.”

    There is the chance that Bonds’ image will improve from here. Ten years from now, maybe the steroid era will be viewed entirely differently. Maybe Bonds will, as Dorfman says, be thought of as one of many.

    Maybe in some ways Bonds is just a throwback. It used to be acceptable — maybe even expected — for athletes to be prickly. Ted Williams famously wouldn’t tip his cap to his hometown fans following his final game at Fenway Park, but remains one of the most beloved figures in Red Sox history.

    It’s easy to forget now, but George Foreman used to be viewed as one of the sporting world’s all-time bad guys. He was described as aloof and antisocial through the 1970s.

    Then came his career reincarnation, where he was a born-again Christian, opened up a youth center, and smiled while selling grills. He’s now beloved.

    Could Bonds take on a similar transformation?

    “Being more likable, more approachable, would help,” says David Carter, executive director of USC’s sports business institute. “But it would only bridge part of the gap. What I’m suggesting is had he not been embroiled in this steroids scandal, and been more likable, he’d go down as one of the most revered athletes in history.”

    •••

    Of course, none of that matters to Virg Navarro. She stays up late most nights to watch Bonds hit, cheering while wearing the Giants hat she got a few years back for her birthday.

    She remembers the boy who played Atari with her son Jared, who grew up and went to Arizona State, just like Barry. And when that time came, Barry helped pay Jared’s tuition and never asked for anything in return, never tried to make a photo op of it, so please don’t tell Virg Navarro that Barry Bonds is a (jerk).

    She wants to tell Barry now that she still loves him, and is “so very, very proud” of what he’s done with his life.

    Virg is an admittedly sentimental person, and this is the part where she starts to cry. She wishes more people could see the side of Barry she knows.

    Maybe then they’d stop with the taunts. Maybe then they’d embrace the man about to become baseball’s all-time home-run king.

    “When they boo him, that’s not right to do,” she says. “People need to respect him. I’m sorry. If they got to know him personally, like I did, they would know he’s a very loving gentleman. When he was here with us, he never did anything wrong.”

    Just for a moment, don’t you wonder how different baseball would be if more people thought like Virg?

     


  3. TheHoff

    TheHoff Senior member

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  4. hchamp

    hchamp Senior member

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    LOL

    Pitchers respected and feared Aaron, but fans never hung a rubber chicken, designed to shame teams that walked Bonds intentionally, in his honor. The most Aaron ever walked in a season was 92 times in 1972. Bonds' peak was 232 in 2004, and he has walked 100 times or more 14 years in his career.

    Had Aaron been as feared as Bonds, he prolly never breaks Ruth's record. Had Bonds been treated like Aaron, he prolly breaks Aaron's anyways.
     


  5. Manny Calavera

    Manny Calavera Senior member

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    I wish the series against The Nationals started today instead of tomorrow, as I can't make any of the games this week. [​IMG]
     


  6. hchamp

    hchamp Senior member

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    Just heard this on ESPN. Between 1984-92, only two players in the NL hit more homers than Barry Bonds. Between 1993-98, only one player hit more hrs, and that was Sammy Sosa and by only one dinger. So even before he allegedly started taking steroids, Bonds was already one of the premiere homerun hitters in baseball, just as good as guys who were allegedly already taking performance-enhancing drugs.
     


  7. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    I have been watching Barry Bonds play sports since he was in High School. He has always been an absolutely phenomenal athelete and dominated football and basketball in much the same way as baseball. None of his acheivements are really all that shocking.
     


  8. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I have been watching Barry Bonds play sports since he was in High School. He has always been an absolutely phenomenal athelete and dominated football and basketball in much the same way as baseball. None of his acheivements are really all that shocking.

    Nonetheless, it seems clear (doesn't it?) that if not for the juice, he would be retiring with around 600 HRs, instead of over 750. Still Hall of Fame worthy, to be sure.
     


  9. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Nonetheless, it seems clear (doesn't it?) that if not for the juice, he would be retiring with around 600 HRs, instead of over 750. Still Hall of Fame worthy, to be sure.
    Absolutely right. Not only would he have been HOF worthy, but I think that he would have been, to many minds, one of the top 5 players of all times when taking into account his speed, defense and incredible discipline. Now, although he will be the all-time HR leader, he will not enter into the same discussions of greatness, or at least not in the same way. Still, he is more than just a great baseball player, he is one of the greatest athletes we have seen in professional sports in a long time.
     


  10. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    As I recall, that long Chron expose reported that Bonds got ticked after the '98 HR race and thought, If those guys are doing it, I should too.

    It was a terrible mistake, I agree. Not only did he destroy his reputation, but the juice appears to have seriously affected his mental health. I'm sure that at the time he thought breaking all these records would make him happy. I wonder if he still feels that way.
     


  11. jpeirpont

    jpeirpont Senior member

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    [​IMG]
     


  12. Henry Boogers

    Henry Boogers Senior member

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    I worked in professional baseball for 6 years and have also (weight) trained with a number of avid steroid users. Speaking from experience I would be willing to bet my house that Barry has used steroids and/or HGH. His passing tests mean little. The more he expects them the easier they are to pass. The testing in the NFL and College sports are worse, they use what's called the kitchen sink test....after they collect the sample they pour it down the kitchen sink. Every now and then they'll make an example out of someone dumb enough to not cover their tracks well, which appeases the media and Congress and naive sports fans think that player is the exception.

    Barry is an example of what happens when you take an excellent hitter and chemically enhance him. All of the arguements about how great he was prior to the steroids is a moot point; we'll never know how many he would have had clean. If you believe that players, including Barry, rarely (or almost never) use steroids, cork bats or do other things to gain an edge please don't ask me to elaborate on my experiences in baseball. I wouldn't want to ruin your fantasy.
     


  13. WSW

    WSW Senior member

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    Even though I dislike Bonds, I gotta tip my hat. I just can't wait until Arod smashes this record 8 years from now.
     


  14. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim In Time Out

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    Is/Will A-Rod be on steroids?

    I'm just going to go back and watch a game I understand, and that the issue of steroids is NOT an issue, (because its common knowledge!) Football.
     


  15. gorgekko

    gorgekko Senior member

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    Speaking from experience I would be willing to bet my house that Barry has used steroids and/or HGH.

    Why are you betting anything? Bonds admitted under oath to a grand jury that he used the cream and the clear. Case closed.
     


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