I know that the talking heads are speculating that Barry Bonds is available to the Sox now the we have no long-term prognosis on David Ortiz’s health. But put this bullnosh to rest!
1) This guy is in the middle of a federal trial. He is in the middle of being a free man who could swing a bat or an anxious mess who has a feeling he’ll end up in prison. I know Kobe Bryant played well under that kind of pressure, but there hasn’t been one innocent bystander in this BALCO mess. I doubt he’s getting off clean, and I doubt he is going to have a clear mind if he knows this. I know his trial date is next year, but its hard to have a clear head when you can assume a future in a small room with a psycho roommate named Bubba McBride.
2) This guy is old. He’s 43. Yea, his arguably has the best plate discipline of any player in the history of baseball, but how much are you going to expect from him 60, 70, 80 games into the season? Is he going to bat 2nd ( it would be ideal with his eye. )? Is he going to break down? How many games will he need to get in shape? Will he even be useful by that time? He’s the best hitter on the market, but he’s 43.
3) The media circus is going to create mayhem in the clubhouse. We are going to have daily updates on his condition, how well his conditioning is, his chase for 3000 ( which is probably his only goal other than winning a championship), his ability to interact with the Beantown fans etc. This commotion can be a negative effect on the clubhouse, and the chemistry can be disrupted enough to be a consequence in our run for the championship.
4) The teammate and fan reaction will be a problem. He’s not going to be welcome anywhere, and the only place that applauded his achievements through thick and thin had thrown him to the curb last year. In the league, in clubhouses and in the stands, there has been a collective sigh of relief that he hasn’t continued his career amidst the hypocrisy that his number were tainted. I think there was a subliminal shame in allowing him to keep on playing through the insanity of the steroid allegations, the rising evidence against his swearing of being clean, and the witch-hunt that had ousted many other players doing the same thing.
Some players, like Curt Schilling, had denounced Bonds for cheating the game. He is a vocal player, and later apologized for his remarks. But there were others in the league who voiced their opinion against steroid use, and although it wasn’t directed specifically at Bonds, it did reflect a negative disposition against players who may have been a part. I can’t say that the clubhouse wouldn’t bring Bonds in with open arms, but I can’t see there being a smooth-sailing effect once he joins the team.
And the subliminal shame that I referred to, that shame had affected fans all over baseball the most. If you google Barry Bonds right now, and peruse through the many articles about his long-ball record, you will find countless comments, tirades, diatribes, and exclamations about Bonds being a cheat, about his record-breaking home-run scarlet-lettered with an asterik, about how hated he is outside of San Fransisco etc. This guy has been booed in every ballpark he has gone to. Every single one.
He will have no friends in the game. And I don’t know how much a team wants to pay to have that negative heat on them every time they are on the road. Even worse, to have your fans turn their back on you as they boo your decision to sign Bonds by screaming bloody murder within the confines of Fenway Park.
5) He is an asshole. He has been an asshole to so many people. I don’t have to explain. Its all here.
6) The game, in its beautiful and scary hierarchy, is trying to put that era behind them. Baseball sometimes has a weird way of just dropping things that it feels is out of style. It could be team policies, types of players, types of managers, systems etc. Players who are in their twilight, even when they have a lot left to give to the game, are usually just shut out from getting back into the system. No one can really think of reasons, but Bonds isn’t the only player who has been recently ostracized.
Kenny Lofton doesn’t have a job. David Wells doesn’t have a job. Remember six years ago when Ricky Henderson played for the Red Sox? He didn’t have great stats, but his .320 on-base percentage with his base-stealing was still pretty decent for a back-up. He re-iterated his availability for years afterwards, not finding any team and eventually retiring in 2007. He was the 1st base coach for the Mets, but he was long from being accepted by any team for his talent.
Bonds is part of the cleansing that baseball has to finish so it can move on to its next generation. The Red Sox could sign Wells, but they would rather produce the young Masterson. We have the young Ellsbury, Every, Moss, and Lowrie in the wings. We have David Ortiz on the mend. At the end of the day, we can make sense and insert bonds into the mix. But if anything, the Red Sox recipe of utilizing their young is more comforting than the sour taste of Bonds trying to mesh his aging talent and negative essence into Red Sox nation.