This weekend the Giants lost 3 straight to the Dodgers and the Hall of Fame inducted people without Barry Bonds. I care to comment.
Sabean. He’s won 2 World Series rings and kept the Giants in contention for 17 years, turning around and stabilizing and bringing glory to San Francisco after decades of bad crabs.
And yet, he pisses Giants fans off like no one else. He makes so many bad decisions. He pays so many over-the-hill veterans too much money (too many to mention), signs flash in the pan free agents to long term deals (Rowland, Huff), pays other free agents past their prime way too much money (Zito), and never is willing to trade for bats. This last thing especially pissed me off in the Barry Bonds era, in that he never gave Barry a suitable bat to hit behind him (with the brief exception of Ellis Burks). Every time Benito Santiago bounced into a double play after a Bonds intentional walk, I yelled of my pure hatred of Sabes. And he never changed. He kept signing shit free agents who were washed up.
And yet…. We know the “and yet.” One of those shit free agents, Edgar Renteria, ends up the MVP of the World Series. Aubrey Huff amazingly gave them a good year. Juan Uribe (or Juan Urine as my autocorrect prefers to refer to him) and Cody Ross. Barry Zito made all the overpaying worth it with a singular performance to never be forgotten, followed by a second singular performance (all the more impressive when he showed us the following season that he hadn’t turned any corners.)
Quick aside: what’s the most amazing performance you’ve ever seen given the player’s capabilities at the time? Bill Simmons, this is for you to ask with your massive research staff. But off the top of my head, Barry Zito’s two games in the fall of 2012 can hardly be matched. Also off the top of my head, maybe Pablo Sandoval’s 3 home runs off of Verlander, but that’s not close. Eli Manning’s two Super Bowl performances? Not comparable to Zito. Mike Miller’s three point barrage in the NBA finals. No, because I don’t like him, and shooting wide open threes while 4 guys guard LeBron isn’t as hard as what Zito did. Ok, enough with the aside. I’m out of ideas.
Mike Rowland never did anything and cost them tons of dollars, but Sabean rode Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner to brilliance. Does he deserve the credit, or did he just have some good scouts?
Assessment on Sabean: I remember vowing to never say a negative word about him again at least twice in the last five years. I’ll stick to it.
Bonds. I don’t care how many PEDs Bonds did (although, admittedly, picking a picture of him from the web reminded me of the sheer size of that head of his….its like young and old Elvis, which do you want to remember…and in this case, old Barry with his big head hit a lot of big homers, so that’s what I want to and will remember). Bonds walked 232 times in 2004–don’t just keep reading. Pause and think about it. 232 walks in one season. In fact, he hit 258 home runs in 5 years while walking 872 times in 716 games. Phenomenal. Watching him play in game after game, he’d get one to two pitches a game to swing at. Sometimes not even that. He was walked intentionally with the bases loaded. [Damn you Sabean--wait, no, not criticizing Sabean]. And when he got the one pitch of the day, he unloaded with that quick swing and juiced biceps so squarely on the ball so as to smash it like a laser into the water. I loved it. I’ll never forget it. Cue Witney Houston’s, “I will always love you.”
Everyone rehashes why or why not Bonds belongs in the HOF. But its simple. He was so singularly dominant in every way. He was by far the best player before ‘roids and he become super human with them. He no doubt benefitted from them, but he also faced huge obstacles—like all the walks and a horrible baseball park. Hank Aaron played in a homer field fiesta. If Bonds played in Atlanta with his big head, he’d have hit 1000 home runs.
Still think its unfair to give a cheater an honor like the hall of fame? Compare it to what the University of California, Berkeley did: they just gave a prestigious endowed chair to a war criminal, John Yoo. Bonds just swelled his head and everyone screams bloody murder. Yoo literally promoted screaming and bloody murder and a university gives him one of its highest honors. I realize the inanity of even comparing these two things, which makes the Yoo scandal all the more revolting. And puts Bonds and his quite sizable head in just perspective.