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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Washington Post: Boswell: Bonds Getting Close to the End (RR)

A season which could call you from the depths of your disgrace?

As Bonds rounds the bases for No. 715, don’t feel guilty if a clap of the hands escapes you, an appreciation of the difficulty of what he did, even if he shouldn’t have been able to do it quite so well. As he touches the plate in what may be his last truly historic baseball moment, try to appreciate the one harsh certainty about the remainder of Bonds’s life. Whatever he did, the penalty he will pay—in a multitude of forms—will surely fit the crime. And probably much more.

 

Repoz Posted: May 16, 2006 at 01:20 PM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Slapinions Posted: May 16, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2021977)
I'd rather talk about my one year old's bowel movements than read another Bonds column. Really. Truly an epic achievment by the media.
   2. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 16, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2021981)
This is an outstanding column, though. He touches on almost every aspect of the Bonds saga, and he doesn't force it to come together in a simple package, but it seems of one piece nonetheless.

I'm not sure he's right that Bonds is done - until the .477 OBP starts dropping, I'm at least withholding judgement - but Boswell has a great ability to make you believe whatever he's arguing for, regardless of the overall merits.
   3. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: May 16, 2006 at 01:54 PM (#2021986)
Hmm ... I'm intrigued by these bowel movements of which you speak. How do they compare to the bowel movements of other children in day care? Is there a significant home/road split in terms of power or consistency? How does your one year old measure up in terms of OPS (Odor Plus Size)?
   4. Chris Needham Posted: May 16, 2006 at 01:55 PM (#2021989)
Funny, the title could apply to the author of the column as well.
   5. Law Boy Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:00 PM (#2021995)
Bonds will have to spend the rest of his life thinking about whether or not taking PEDs was worth. In moments of candor, it's hard to think that his answer won't be no.
   6. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:02 PM (#2022000)
Thomas Boswell:
Before BALCO, Bonds was a great player, but never mentioned with names such as Ruth, Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.

Bill James, at the end of the 1999 season:
When people begin to take in all of his accomplishments, Bonds may well be rated among the five greatest players in the history of the game.
   7. Chip Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:13 PM (#2022009)
Thomas Boswell:
Before BALCO, Bonds was a great player, but never mentioned with names such as Ruth, Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.

Bill James, at the end of the 1999 season:
When people begin to take in all of his accomplishments, Bonds may well be rated among the five greatest players in the history of the game.


Boswell won't let Marriotti or Jenkins or Plaschke or anyone else take away his title as the "Bluto Butarsky of Sports Columnists" without a fight.

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
   8. JC in DC Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:17 PM (#2022013)
I agree, Matt. That was a great piece. Boswell can write. And Bonds is clearly "nearly done." I mean that at least in two senses: he's not the hitter he once was, and I'm not sure he has much desire to play beyond 715 or so.
   9. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2022015)
I'm not sure he's right that Bonds is done - until the .477 OBP starts dropping, I'm at least withholding judgement - but Boswell has a great ability to make you believe whatever he's arguing for, regardless of the overall merits.

Once pitchers finally start realizing that he doesn't need to be feared like two years ago, that will start dropping. He still leads in walks, but the word might be getting around already; lately pitchers seem to be more willing to challenge him.
   10. BDC Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:19 PM (#2022019)
Bill James, at the end of the 1999 season

Absolutely. In fact, after the 1993 season, James pointed out that Bonds had just beaten Williams's single-season high in HR, and suggested that since Bonds was so much better than Williams in the field and on the bases, he might be the best left fielder of all time.
   11. JC in DC Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:22 PM (#2022023)
Bill James doesn't count as "people."
   12. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:30 PM (#2022031)
Bonds bad knee won't let him hit the low pitch. When pitchers find this out, he'll be just another guy with a hole in his swing.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:31 PM (#2022034)
I don't really see what the big deal is with the difference between "never" and "very rarely". Barry Bonds was very rarely considered an all-time great. The case could be made that he was one, but he wasn't generally perceived as such.

Boswell says he was great, but not Mays-Williams-Aaron great. That's hardly a slight on Bonds. Insofar as it's arguably untrue, I don't think that one possible factual glitch makes much of any difference in assessing the column.

Joey - I certainly think you might be right, but I tend to give MLB pitchers and managers the benefit of hte doubt. If they're pitching Bonds like he's scary, I'm going to assume he is scary to them.
   14. JC in DC Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2022036)
I don't really see what the big deal is with the difference between "never" and "very rarely". Barry Bonds was very rarely considered an all-time great. The case could be made that he was one, but he wasn't generally perceived as such.

Boswell says he was great, but not Mays-Williams-Aaron great. That's hardly a slight on Bonds. Insofar as it's arguably untrue, I don't think that one possible factual glitch makes much of any difference in assessing the column.


I agree, obviously, given my post above. Boswell's point still stands, though I think it's also plausible had Bonds never popped a pill (or, changed his prior pill-popping regimen) by the time he retired, he may have been considered the best LFer ever. Now, however, that will not happen. Williams will remain in that spot, IMHO. Isn't that ironic?
   15. Repoz Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:34 PM (#2022039)
and I'm not sure he has much desire to play beyond 715 or so.

This ties in with a bar pool we have going...who will be the first to retire during the season, Barry Bonds or Randy Johnson?
   16. Traderdave Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2022051)
They'll both limp through the end of the season.

Bonds will do a Clemens/Hamlet routine to test the waters, then retire over the winter. He'll blame the press for poisoning his job prospects.

Johnson will work out over the winter, possibly some surgery, and will sign with someboday, poss even a minor league deal. But more than a a few teams will take a chance on him as NRI.
   17. JC in DC Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2022052)
This ties in with a bar pool we have going...who will be the first to retire during the season, Barry Bonds or Randy Johnson?


Man, that's a great question. I've thought that about Randy, too. They have similar personalities, don't they? And they're both near the end. Hmmm.... I'll go w/Bonds. B/c he plays nearly everyday, he'll have more opportunities to see he's virtually done and to break the record. Johnson will tinker his way for a few more starts at least, I think.

So, Bonds. Early July.
   18. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:40 PM (#2022053)
Or maybe he's just in a slump... they do happen, you know.

And I'll say again, it's amazing how otherwise intelligent people can come to believe something without any proof. Vindictive journalists writing a book isn't proof, it's a bunch of hot air. It's kind of like organized religion, actually.
   19. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:42 PM (#2022054)
Once pitchers finally start realizing that he doesn't need to be feared like two years ago, that will start dropping.

Riiiight. You suppose the fact that he's sitting on #713 and has spent the last five years seeing about two strikes a week may be affecting his approach? I think pitchers are smart enough to realize he might be willing to chase pitches out of the zone right now, and add in the fact the umps are giving him _no breaks_ because they don't want to get booed off the field. He's still the same talent, pitchers are always going to nibble, and when he gets caught looking it's usually because the ump is wrong. If guys started pitching to him like he was Pedro Feliz we would probably see #756 this season.

As long as I'm ranting how about this cheater Derrick Turnbow? He's a convicted steroid user who worked his way up through the minors on The Juice and now he's tearing down hallowed Milwaukee Brewer save records with his ill-gotten gains. It's like a slap in the face to Kolb and Plesac. ESPN and SI should do a feature story on him so the fans know who to boo and throw s--t at when the Brew crew comes to town. They've actually rewarded this self-centered clown with a bobble head day at Miller Park. He should be in jail.
   20. Traderdave Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:47 PM (#2022057)
Oh, and Johnson is signed thru next year, Bonds is not. That is the real determinant.
   21. Dizzypaco Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:48 PM (#2022059)
Riiiight. You suppose the fact that he's sitting on #713 and has spent the last five years seeing about two strikes a week may be affecting his approach? I think pitchers are smart enough to realize he might be willing to chase pitches out of the zone right now, and add in the fact the umps are giving him _no breaks_ because they don't want to get booed off the field. He's still the same talent, pitchers are always going to nibble, and when he gets caught looking it's usually because the ump is wrong. If guys started pitching to him like he was Pedro Feliz we would probably see #756 this season.

Is there some kind of an award for most excuses for a guy hitting .217 in one posting?
   22. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:54 PM (#2022065)
Thomas Boswell:
Before BALCO, Bonds was a great player, but never mentioned with names such as Ruth, Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays.

Bill James, at the end of the 1999 season:
When people begin to take in all of his accomplishments, Bonds may well be rated among the five greatest players in the history of the game.


James just said "the five greatest players", not those guys.

I believe he was referring to Duke Snider, Billy Williams, Lloyd Moseby, Roger Peckinpaugh and Kevin Sefcik.
   23. CSI:Bedford Falls Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:54 PM (#2022066)
When they do an autopsy on his freakazoid physique (freakasique?), you think they'll find a little alien dude in his head, dead at the controls like in M.I.B.?
   24. Guapo Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#2022068)
It's like people have never seen a player have a bad week before.

Here's from an article dated May 9, 2006, last Tuesday:

Expect Barry Bonds back next year to battle all his aches and pains, to weather the steroid storm and, of course, to chase Hank Aaron's all-time home run record.

Bonds has sent mixed signals publicly about whether he plans to return for another season, but in perhaps the clearest sign that he will, Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, told Newsday yesterday, "I have every reason to believe Barry Bonds will be a professional baseball player in 2007."....

Bonds, who has 713 home runs - one behind Babe Ruth for second place on the all-time list and 42 behind Aaron - recently has gotten hot. He has five home runs and is batting .262 with a .569 slugging percentage after hitting his 713th home run Sunday off Philadelphia's Jon Lieber.
   25. Shredder Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:56 PM (#2022070)
Barry Bonds was very rarely considered an all-time great.

Based on what? Media perception? The guy had already won three MVPs, and should have won at least one, if not two more. He had over 400 homers and well over 400 stolen bases. He had eight gold gloves. He had become the second 40/40 guy in history. He was pretty easily the best player of his generation by the end of 1998. I'm not exactly sure how you could make an argument that he *wasn't* one of the all time greats at that point.

I wonder how many all-time greats were actually considered all-time greats while they were still in the middle of their careers.
   26. GuyM Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:57 PM (#2022072)
Bill James doesn't count as "people."

When Boswell says "never mentioned with names such as Ruth, Aaron, Ted Williams and Willie Mays," he isn't making the point that Bonds was underappreciated; he wants his readers to conclude that Bonds wasn't quite that good. It's obviously a comment on Bonds' actual talent, not perceptions of Bonds. So citing James, and the evidence that led James to his conclusion, is perfectly responsive and relevant.
   27. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: May 16, 2006 at 02:57 PM (#2022073)
Is there some kind of an award for most excuses for a guy hitting .217 in one posting?

Here's three more:

-Small sample size caveat
-Small sample size caveat
-Today's paper says .221
   28. CSI:Bedford Falls Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2022075)
As long as I'm ranting how about this cheater Derrick Turnbow? he's tearing down hallowed Milwaukee Brewer save records with his ill-gotten gains.

Hallowed Kolb and Plesac?

Oh yeah,

Rivera,
Sutter,
Eckersley,
Kolb,
Plesac

I forgot.
Rollie Fingers needn't worry.
   29. Shredder Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2022076)
As long as I'm ranting how about this cheater Derrick Turnbow? He's a convicted steroid user who worked his way up through the minors on The Juice and now he's tearing down hallowed Milwaukee Brewer save records with his ill-gotten gains.

He used a supplement banned by international competition, but not banned by baseball. That would explain why he wasn't suspended by major league baseball.


Turnbow link
   30. CSI:Bedford Falls Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2022077)
As long as I'm ranting how about this cheater Derrick Turnbow? he's tearing down hallowed Milwaukee Brewer save records with his ill-gotten gains.

Hallowed Kolb and Plesac?

Oh yeah,

Rivera,
Sutter,
Eckersley,
Kolb,
Plesac

I forgot.
Rollie Fingers needn't worry.
   31. TerpNats Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2022080)
When sluggers get old, they often get old fast, sometimes almost overnight. Years ago, the late columnist Shirley Povich watched Ken Singleton strike out one night in Baltimore. "Too bad," Povich said. "What do you mean?" I said. "He's finished," Povich said. "He can't hit the fastball anymore. I saw it happen to [Lou] Gehrig and [Jimmie] Foxx, too."

Anyone who saw Mike Schmidt's final year-plus can empathize. It was painful to watch.

The tragedy of Bonds, of course, is that without artificial inducements, he probably would have only ended up with about as many homers as, say, Frank Robinson -- but been better recognized for his greatness (and Bonds in the nineties was indeed a great player). Ultimately the blame lies with him, but one can also accuse baseball for looking the other way on steroids a few years earlier. In public suspicion and devaluation of hallowed home run statistics, MLB is paying for that mistake, too.
   32. Mefisto Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2022081)
I don't really see what the big deal is with the difference between "never" and "very rarely". Barry Bonds was very rarely considered an all-time great. The case could be made that he was one, but he wasn't generally perceived as such.

This is clearly true: Bonds was, after all, left off the all-century team. The fans didn't recognize him as in that class.

Analysts did, though. In addition to James, Pete Palmer had him at 11th all time through the 1998 season.
   33. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:08 PM (#2022086)
He used a supplement banned by international competition, but not banned by baseball. That would explain why he wasn't suspended by major league baseball.<i>

So andro's legal again?
   34. Shredder Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:13 PM (#2022093)
So andro's legal again?

Whatever he took was legal when he took it. It wasn't Andro, but from the article, it sounds like it was in the same family. Remember, this goes back to 2002, so Andro may not have been banned yet. Personally, I'm not gonna get all bent out of shape about a guy taking an OTC substance that isn't banned by the sport regardless of whether they ban it at some future point.
   35. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#2022106)
He's still the same talent, pitchers are always going to nibble, and when he gets caught looking it's usually because the ump is wrong. If guys started pitching to him like he was Pedro Feliz we would probably see #756 this season.

Nobody is ever going to confuse Bonds with Pedro Feliz; even a diminished Bonds is still a pretty good player.

But if you think Bonds is still the same talent now, you're dreaming. The guy is almost 42 friggin' years old and coming off a brutal injury. And the umpires have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he's popping up more, and that balls that probably would have gone out two years ago are dying at the warning track more often.

If you read the Stark article, he admits that he's exhausted most of the time. He's going to need days off more and more as the season drags on. Time just catches up with everyone.
   36. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: May 16, 2006 at 03:31 PM (#2022121)
He had become the second 40/40 guy in history.

And the first to do it without cheating.
   37. Backlasher Posted: May 16, 2006 at 04:22 PM (#2022173)
This is clearly true: Bonds was, after all, left off the all-century team. The fans didn't recognize him as in that class.

Analysts did, though. In addition to James, Pete Palmer had him at 11th all time through the 1998 season.


I think Field has it nailed. In addition to analysts, a lot of the more intense fans probably rated Bonds pretty high.

The thing about pre-Balco Bonds was that his career was kind of hidden. In the years of those really good Pirate teams it was still perceived as either "Van Slyke" then "Bonds and Bonilla" or "Bonds, Bonilla and then Van Slyke" In fact, I recall few times that "Bonds" was said without "Bonilla"

And the fact that he pulled off some of the biggest playoff choke jobs in history over that span didn't cause the national spotlight to gaze at him that hard.

And despite what Giants fans may think, the Giants were also a pretty obscure destination during the pre-BALCO period. Most of the national memories are of them choking down the stretch and Burba getting hit in the ass with a Ronnie Gant line drive.

If you were following the game real closely you might have seen that Bonds was a very, very special player. Otherwise, he was just perennial all star (which isn't too bad).

And the All Century Snub is the shutdown evidence. Jr. Griffey is all century, Barry Bonds was not. There really isn't room for much argument on that point.

Not many people read Bill James, and even those that do, take some of his player evaluations with a grain of salt.
   38. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: May 16, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2022176)
And despite what Giants fans may think, the Giants were also a pretty obscure destination during the pre-BALCO period. Most of the national memories are of them choking down the stretch and Burba getting hit in the ass with a Ronnie Gant line drive.

And Matt Williams' Drive for 62, but your point is valid.
   39. Mefisto Posted: May 16, 2006 at 05:15 PM (#2022243)
Most of the national memories are of them choking down the stretch

Hey, wait a minute. They played .633 in Sept/Oct 1993. They ended the season 14-3. They did have an 8 game losing streak from Sept 7-15, but overall their record "down the stretch" was excellent. This wasn't Toronto in '87 or the '62 Dodgers -- the Braves just played better, like the Giants did when they caught the Dodgers in '51.
   40. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: May 16, 2006 at 06:41 PM (#2022341)
When Pierre robbed him of what would've been homer No. 714, Bonds waved his arm disparagingly, dismissively at Pierre as if his excellent play in a close game were disgusting, an affront. How dare you?


I read that Bonds had pointed at Pierre to acknowledge the good catch and that he had been robbed. Where does Boswell get this? I watched the game, and I don't remember WGN showing Bonds when he made the gesture, but I certainly don't remember Kasper and Brenly saying that Bonds had done anything unsportsmanlike.
   41. Guapo Posted: May 16, 2006 at 06:47 PM (#2022351)
You can watch Pierre rob Bonds here:

<a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/scripts/mediaplayer/mp_tpl.jsp?w_id=494984&w=/2006/open/tp/archive05/050906_chnsfn_schmidt_cg_reel_tp_350.wmv&pid=mlb_tp&gid=2006/05/09/chnmlb-sfnmlb-1&vid=7758&mid=200605101446589&cid=mlb&fid=mlb_tp350&v=2&mType=w&urlstr;=&murl;=">Let me know if this doesn't work</a>

I took Bonds' reaction to be nothing more than a friendly "you're killing me" but Boswell's obviously got a script, and he's sticking to it.
   42. Guapo Posted: May 16, 2006 at 06:50 PM (#2022357)
Live Preview, you're killing me.

Will this work? Click on this link

and then look for the link titled "Pierre robs Bonds"
   43. Dizzypaco Posted: May 16, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#2022365)
<i>I took Bonds' reaction to be nothing more than a friendly "you're killing me" but Boswell's obviously got a script, and he's sticking to it.</i>

I watched the video a couple of times, and your reaction is probably right, but I think Boswell's interpretation is at least reasonable -its not totally crazy.
   44. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: May 16, 2006 at 06:59 PM (#2022375)
Not to mention Turnbow blowing two save chances in a row over the weekend.
   45. RP Posted: May 16, 2006 at 07:01 PM (#2022380)
Hey, wait a minute. They played .633 in Sept/Oct 1993. They ended the season 14-3. They did have an 8 game losing streak from Sept 7-15, but overall their record "down the stretch" was excellent. This wasn't Toronto in '87 or the '62 Dodgers -- the Braves just played better, like the Giants did when they caught the Dodgers in '51.

I don't think the 1993 NL West gets enough credit as one of the all time greatest playoff races.
   46. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: May 16, 2006 at 08:54 PM (#2022641)
and Bonds in the nineties was indeed a great player).

... though he certainly fell short of craig biggio's class, if i'm correctly remembering james' pronouncement in his historical encyclopedia of baseball (or whatever it's called) about the best player in the game circa the late '90s.
   47. base ball chick Posted: May 16, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2022663)
i thought at the time i saw the game that bonds was not disrespectful at all to pierre - sort of like in the all star game when torii hunter robbed him.

i have watch barry since i was a little grrrl and he was always just incredible.

and so even though he's pretty much cooked - i mean, dave freaking borowski got him out - i am not for anything gonna miss the last 2 times i'll ever be able to see him on a ball field.
   48. Cris E Posted: May 16, 2006 at 09:18 PM (#2022683)
If you read the Stark article, he admits that he's exhausted most of the time. He's going to need days off more and more as the season drags on.

Aha!!11! He's stumbling without his Greenies! I knew something was up with that character. It just felt wrong...
   49. Ron Johnson Posted: May 16, 2006 at 10:21 PM (#2022763)
Bill James doesn't count as "people."


Sure but as I've pointed out before in 1999 the talk on RSB was whether Bonds was going to end
up as the number 2 LF of all time or whether he could actually catch Williams for the top spot.
(Not that it was a given that he'd pass Musial for career value -- just reasonably likely. And
it's not like you're a failure if your career doesn't end up as good as Musial)

Best I can recall Gary Huckabay was the first on RSB to tout Bonds' chances to rank that
high (as early as 1993 if not before then) -- though he also noted that he hadn't caught
Rickey! as the top active LF.

Gary also noted that Vlad (his neural network based projection system) kept wanting to give
Bonds 900 plate appearances a year.
   50. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 17, 2006 at 12:19 AM (#2023104)
Taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour...
   51. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: May 17, 2006 at 01:20 AM (#2023361)
Personally, I'm not gonna get all bent out of shape about
a guy taking an OTC substance that isn't banned by the sport
regardless of whether they ban it at some future point.


Yes, but you are a well-known moral degenerate. I think it's
obvious that Turnbow bought and used that OTC substance
precisely because he knew it would one day be banned,
and he wanted to get in when the getting was good.

Despicable.

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