Tomorrow at 11am the vote by the Baseball Writers of America will be released and God-willing Barry Bonds is not voted in to the Hall of Fame.
There is no doubt from 1987-to-1999 Bonds was one of the greatest players the game had ever seen. He was the true five-tool player. He could hit, hit for power, field, throw and run. He had hit more than 450 home runs in that 13 year stretch and had garnered three MVP awards and was considered one of the pre-eminent players in the game both offensively and defensively. If his career had stopped at that point, he was a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, but for Bonds being the best in the game WASN’T ENOUGH.
Teammates and associates of Bonds say he was not happy that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had captivated the nation with their 1998 home run chase. Bonds was clearly a better player than both Sosa and Big Mac and in seeing the adulation these two players were getting nation-wide it fried the versatile and also volatile Bonds. Anyone with vision, knew Sosa and McGwire had bulked to near super-human proportions and you had to be naive, dumb or blind (all of which baseball officials were) to not know they were on the juice. Size like that doesn’t come from living in the weight room. So, Bonds got connected with the Bay Area lab Balco and the rest is history.
Three years later Bonds would break Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record at 73 and would shatter baseball’s record books with home runs at a chemically induced pace. Balls were not just flying off his bat, but they were traveling at a distance on a consistent basis that seemed freakish…prodigious home runs that were befitting of a man who had become bloated yet strong. Not only hitting home runs but consistently hitting them 400 to 450 feet. All while doing this as he aged, that’s right, as Bonds got older he got better. Little did we know that Bonds had found Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth at the Bay Area Labratory Cooperative in the Bay Area.
In 2007, Bonds would break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record with 762 round-trippers. At nearly 40 years old he was still one of the toughest outs in baseball, and when he hit the ball it still soared out of ballparks all around the country. Gone were his tremendous running skills, that made him so electrifying with the Pirates and the Giants in the early 90’s, gone was his ability to chase down balls in the gap with the graceful almost obstinate stride letting fans around baseball know that “he had this.” And, gone was the thin wiry and athletic player that reminded fans of Willie Mays in his prime. No, near the end we had a bloated, muscle-bound, bulging player that simply was a behemoth as he chased baseball’s most hallowed record for the edification of himself. That was it. The record of Aaron had all of a sudden become the record of a colossal fraud who needed a lubricant and synthetic steroid known as the “clear” to etch his name in baseball record books.
While Bonds was worshipped in San Francisco, he was and is reviled around other major league cities. We all know that Bonds was not the only player to juice, heck, if you believe Jose Canseco there were nearly half of major leaguers who were on some kind of illegal performance-enhancer. But, none of those players were the best player of their generation and felt like it WASN’T ENOUGH. None of those players broke cherished baseball records for purely for their own selfish desires. Bonds is still worshipped by some lemmings in San Francisco for his records and the joy he brought their baseball fans, but, in reality he is a fraud. A great player before 2000, but nothing but a cartoon character once his head grew two sizes. He is and always will be the poster player for the steroid era.
So, while his supporters cry foul when the Baseball Writers shun Barry Bonds on Wednesday, remember, this was a guy who had it all, and it wasn’t enough. A player of supreme talent, and despite his surly disposition was respected as a ballplayer. A player unlike any other I had ever seen…..and he wasted it. Wasted it on home run records, that were largely ignored by the baseball community. In the end, Bonds punishment is being ostracized by baseball. Sure, he is loved in San Francisco, but baseball could care less about the man, neither celebrating or honoring a man who had it all….but it WASN’T ENOUGH.