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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Zirin: “It’s Bonds. Barry Bonds”: The Return of Baseball’s Invisible Man

So it’s not the return of Barry Burton to Resident Evil. Damn.

By chanting “Barry”, the fans actually forced the radio and television announcers to acknowledge “the last time a different Barry” heard his name echoed through the park. On the radio broadcast, they acknowledged that this “different Barry” once existed without saying his last name. There was an awkward silence after their observation as if they had spoken out of turn and were about to be chided by a spectral disciplinarian in their midst.

On television, they handled “Barry” a touch differently. Lead Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck commented that fans used to chant Barry “for someone else around here.” Tim McCarver responded, “When Barry Manilow was here at concerts.” People assumed afterward that McCarver had experienced a senior moment of some kind or was just a bit out to lunch.

I don’t buy it.  I believe McCarver’s chuckle, which you can hear immediately after his Manilow line, tells a different story. He was actually making a poorly executed joke about the invisibility of Barry Bonds and at the expense of Barry Bonds. There is a delight that the baseball cognoscenti takes in making Barry Bonds their “invisible man.” It’s a way to marginalize him without confronting what he represents. He’s a home-run king in exile. He’s the end-product of an era where owners made billions selling a steroid-enhanced product. He’s the person who can no longer tell the press to go to hell, because they won’t acknowledge his voice. The press corps once asked Bonds if he thought steroids was cheating. Bonds responded, “Is steroids cheating? You want to define cheating in America? When they make a shirt in Korea for a $1.50 and sell it here for 500 bucks. And you ask me what cheating means?” Now they don’t have to care what he thinks. Now they can humiliate him forever by denying his existence.

It’s so fitting that it was the fans of San Francisco who forced his name onto the airwaves. It’s the city where generations of people traveled to escape the sting of invisibility. It’s the city where shame is treated as the greatest sin of all. It’s the city where Barry Bonds can thumb his nose at the exile of Major League Baseball, and truly be home.

Repoz Posted: October 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, history

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Dangerous Dean Posted: October 25, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4283244)
Lots of players took steroids in that era. Some have come clean and been (mostly) forgiven. Others have denied it and become pariahs (I'm looking at you, Palmeiro).

I have an intense dislike for Bonds not just because of the (alleged) steriod use, but also because he seemed to be a complete jackarse to his teammates. He would have been a superb player even without steroids, and I freely acknowledge that. But he just seemed to be so conceited and such a jerk to the fans and everyone that I can't really scrape up any positive emotions for him.

Yes, you were as good as anyone who's ever played the game (my apologies to Mays, Aaron, Ruth, Williams et al). But you were also as likeable as a turd in a punch bowl. My feelings for you are, contrary to your belief, not rooted at all in racism or envy. If I acknowledged you on air it would be the broadcasting equivilent of having to hold my nose and hold you at arm's length like I would dispose of part of a dead rat that my cats left in the back yard three days ago.

Would it have killed you to act like you had a heart?
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:02 PM (#4283246)
I don't know why, but I was kinda surprised to see Benito Santiago with such a prominent seat at the game - they kept showing him applauding. He was a besmirched PED user, no?
   3. Randy Jones Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4283250)
but also because he seemed to be a complete jackarse to his teammates.


Is this true? Aside from Kent, who is himself a total jackass, I can only remember teammates having good things to say about Bonds.
   4. Xander Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4283255)
The writer is wrong. Buck was clearly referencing Bonds, but McCarver did have a "senior moment," didn't make the connection between Buck's quip and Barry Bonds, and proceeded to make the Manilow crack. He then spent the next two minutes holding down the cough button while he was laughing after he realized his ridiculous mistake. There was no intent behind McCarver's reaction other than realizing his own foolishness.

And the Giants, their broadcasters, and the organization have not distanced themselves from Bonds like the author implies. Bonds is welcomed back at games, appears in the radio and television booths during the season, and is always invited back to ceremonies where he is revered by the fans.

Zirin is seeing something that's not there.
   5. Moeball Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4283266)
Is this true? Aside from Kent, who is himself a total jackass, I can only remember teammates having good things to say about Bonds.


Well, it was a long time ago, but there was that bit in college where Barry's teammates wanted to vote him off of the team...I'm guessing by the time Barry joined SF most players had learned to leave him alone most of the time and just let him do his stuff on the field, which was truly extraordinary stuff...
   6. Booey Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4283273)
I don't know why, but I was kinda surprised to see Benito Santiago with such a prominent seat at the game - they kept showing him applauding. He was a besmirched PED user, no?


Remember, people only care about superstars using PED's, not mediocre players.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4283285)
I thought I remember Bonds and Andy van Slyke not getting along in Pittsburgh. But in SF, it seems like Bonds was well liked enough by his teammates.
   8. Bruce Markusen Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4283295)
Good grief, Zirin is seeing something that clearly isn't here. McCarver simply forgot about Bonds, made the remark about Manilow, realized his error and then laughed at it. I heard the comment live, and it was obvious, plainly obvious, that that's what happened.
   9. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4283318)
If Barry wasn't frozen out he'd have 800 HR's and 2200 RBI minimum. At age 42 he walked 132 times and struck out 54 in 477 PA's. Think A-Rod will do the same?
   10. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 25, 2012 at 04:56 PM (#4283338)
I wonder what Shawon Dunston, who jokingly bet Bonds during preseason that he would break McGwire's home run record in 2001, and then saw Bonds buy him a new Mercedes as payment, thinks about Barry Bonds the Shitty Teammate.
   11. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 25, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4283345)
I don't know why, but I was kinda surprised to see Benito Santiago with such a prominent seat at the game - they kept showing him applauding. He was a besmirched PED user, no?

Single-season high, HRs: 30
Highest finish, MVP balloting: 20th

Nope, Santiago's okay.
   12. Flynn Posted: October 25, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4283353)
And the Giants, their broadcasters, and the organization have not distanced themselves from Bonds like the author implies. Bonds is welcomed back at games, appears in the radio and television booths during the season, and is always invited back to ceremonies where he is revered by the fans.

Zirin is seeing something that's not there.


Yep, this is true. Bonds was the first player after Willie Mays (who gets to be the first for all-time) Duane Kuiper mentioned after the Giants won the World Series in 2010.

Zirin seems to be basing this entirely on the Giants not having retired his number yet, or something like that.

Also, I do not know Barry Bonds personally. Never met him. But I know some fairly prominent San Franciscans who do know him and they all love him. There are legions of stories about unannounced charity visits, donations, visits to sick kids in the hospital and warm relations between Bonds and people in the community.

Bonds definitely has some baggage (the divorce from Sun Bonds most prominently in my mind) and I'm not going to act like he was a saint. But Bonds the clubhouse cancer is entirely a national media narrative. And the national media don't know ####.
   13. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: October 25, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4283362)
Free Melky!
   14. smileyy Posted: October 25, 2012 at 05:26 PM (#4283368)
I can't find it in myself to fault one of the best ever for keeping himself from being overshadowed by PED users who weren't among the best ever.

   15. Bitter Mouse Posted: October 25, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4283417)
I am now and will always be a fan of Barry Bonds the baseball player. I don't know BB the person, but basically none of us do. Still he treated the media badly, but I don't know whether that is a sign he is an honest person or a jerk (not that I care). Unsurprisingly the media seems to have a stronger opinion about it than I do.
   16. Sunday silence Posted: October 25, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4283551)
Is this true? Aside from Kent, who is himself a total jackass, I can only remember teammates having good things to say about Bonds.


van Slyke says they told Bonds to reposition himself just before Sid Bream came home with the winning run in that NLCS and Bonds just ignored him. That they wanted to shade him to just about where Cabrera's (?) hit landed.

He was also a jackass when he brought one of his friends into the clubhouse in spring training and wouldnt tell him he had to leave but maybe Leyland just didnt want to enrage the guy. I really wish Leyland would have batted him lower in the order in the NLCS when he was just not seeing the ball. It seemed obvious Bonds wasnt himself in several of those series.

But at this pt. I dont hate the guy anymore there are enuf other stories about him to keep an open mind about him. Most ball players are kind of flakey, I guess it's because the game focuses on the invidual so much.
   17. Nats-Homer-in-DC Posted: October 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM (#4283730)
Media had it out for Barry before steroids. Mainly because Barry had it out for media. Mainly because the media treated his father harshly. A bad relationship that never healed.
   18. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: October 25, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4283920)
Good grief, Zirin is seeing something that clearly isn't here. McCarver simply forgot about Bonds, made the remark about Manilow, realized his error and then laughed at it. I heard the comment live, and it was obvious, plainly obvious, that that's what happened.

I heard it live and thought McCarver was being coy. It didn't occur to me that he might be having a "senior moment," but I so rarely listen to him to know if that happens often.
   19. boteman Posted: October 25, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4283930)
Seeing how The Media operates in general, I can sympathize with Barry Bonds treating them harshly.
   20. zenbitz Posted: October 26, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4283949)
I thought McCarver was being funny. It was 7-0 or something, right? Just trying to pass air time. It was Buck who didn't get the joke.

That being said, author's thesis not in evidence. I think he was just trying to be funny... who the heck watching a World Series in 2012 doesn't associate BARRY / GIANTS with Bonds? 10 year olds?
   21. Sunday silence Posted: October 26, 2012 at 01:41 AM (#4283960)
but McCarver did have a "senior moment," didn't make the connection between Buck's quip and Barry Bonds


time to check the meds.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:09 AM (#4283972)
Zirin is seeing something that's not there.

80% of what Zirin writes is seeing something that isn't there.

10% even he doesn't see something there but ya gotta stir the pot, right?

The remaining 10% he's in the neighborhood of a valid point but argues it poorly and presents no evidence.
   23. The District Attorney Posted: October 26, 2012 at 08:33 AM (#4283997)
the media treated his father harshly
I certainly believe that Barry believes this, but can anyone summarize what happened?
   24. Flynn Posted: October 26, 2012 at 08:49 AM (#4284005)
Bobby had a rep as a lazy player, didn't he? He also got hyped as the new Willie Mays, which didn't help matters when he only turned out to be Bobby Bonds. He also struck out a lot too.
   25. Russ Posted: October 26, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4284020)
Barry Bonds was my favorite player for a long time. He got a pretty raw deal in Pittsburgh from the media, but he had an odd sense of humor and basically didn't like to be bothered with trivial things. The problems between Bonds and AVS were all about money and stemmed mostly from the team. It was obvious that Bonds resented Van Slyke's popularity in Pittsburgh, despite the fact that Bonds was a better player and Bonilla was pretty close. That created a really sad situation where Bonds thought the Pirates signed AVS to the one big contract they could afford because the Pirates wanted AVS instead of Bonds. I think the Pirates preferred Bonds (I mean, given their ages and production, it was pretty much a no-brainer), but figured that Bonds would never sign with them and felt like they needed to sign one of the three. So it was essentially a huge misunderstanding that couldn't be undone after AVS was signed and Bonds was such a proud (or arrogant) guy that it just got out of control at the end.


   26. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 26, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4284040)
I don't know BB the person, but basically none of us do.


The one time I met him, he was nice. Very gracious to a star-struck kid.

I suspect that like most people, Bonds had good relationships with some teammates and bad relationships with others.

The problems between Bonds and AVS were all about money and stemmed mostly from the team.


In any discussion of the relationship between Bonds and the team, I really don't think you can overstate the bone-headedness of the Pirates' arbitration strategy at the time. Basically, in an effort to control costs, they refused to negotiate long-term deals with players and instead preferred to try and beat down their yearly salaries in arbitration. So all of the team's best players spent three straight offseasons listening to how much the team hated them and how terrible they were as players, right before the team needed to try and negotiate with them as free agents.

Bonds was hugely, hugely pissed off when in the arbitration hearing following the 1989 season, the team beat him up over his low RBI totals the prior two years - which were largely a function of his position as leadoff hitter on a team that got a .318 OBP out of the #7 slot and a .269 (not a typo) out of the #8. And then when he tried to arrange a move out of the leadoff spot the next spring, the idiot local press ripped him up one side and down the other for being selfish and only thinking about personal statistics.

So Carl Barger and Larry Doughty, two of the stupidest men in baseball history, saved themselves a couple million bucks in years 4-6 of Bonds's time with the Pirates, and then drove away the greatest hitter of his generation.
   27. alilisd Posted: October 26, 2012 at 03:52 PM (#4284469)
It didn't occur to me that he (McCarver) might be having a "senior moment," but I so rarely listen to him to know if that happens often.


After one of Sandoval's HR in the first game, when he had called him "Pandoval" by mistake. McCarver said, roughly quoting from memory, "I said Pandoval. Sandoval and Panda. I combined them into Pandoval." Happens fairly often, I'd say.
   28. AROM Posted: October 26, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4284478)
After one of Sandoval's HR in the first game, when he had called him "Pandoval" by mistake. McCarver said, roughly quoting from memory, "I said Pandoval. Sandoval and Panda. I combined them into Pandoval." Happens fairly often, I'd say.


Pretty cool. I put a Pandaval into my APBA league when Sandoval first came up. Although in this league the player actually is a Panda.

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