He’s out there. Somewhere.
Baseball’s Bigfoot – unseen but we just know he’s for real – is lurking about, and someone’s going to bag him.
Some GM, unable to resist the lure, is going to sign Barry Bonds.
And I cannot wait until it happens.
Until now, baseball’s home run king and not long ago the game’s most feared hitter has been The Player Who Shall Not Be Named. With perjury and obstruction of justice charges stemming from the feds’ obsession with BALCO hanging over his head, Bonds was essentially blacklisted.
Whether conspiratorial or not, everyone in the game seemed to come to the same conclusion: Not on my team.
Now the smoke is starting to come into view.
Teams with needs and desperation are suddenly, if not quietly, entertaining the thought of signing Bonds for the second half of the season. (Oh, somewhere Bud Selig is startin’ to fidget.)
And two of those teams are in sports most visible markets: New York and Boston.
Boston may be in need of a big bat if Big Papi Ortiz, trying to return from a wrist injury, isn’t able to come back at full strength. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe recently wrote that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said there was “nothing to speculation” that the Sox might sign Bonds if Ortiz was not due back for a while. This followed musings from ESPN’s Peter Gammons that the Sox had had “internal discussions” about Bonds.
In New York it gets even better. The Mets are in dire need of something to lift them out of mediocrity. They may be in need of a viable replacement for outfielder Ryan Church, who’s still fighting off dizzy spells and headaches from a concussion suffered during spring training. Yesterday, interim manager Jerry Manuel almost gushed at the prospect of having Bonds.
“Oooh, Barry Bonds,” he said. “That would be interesting. That would make [reporters] jobs easy. You’d have something every day to do.”
He added: “I don’t know Barry as personal as everyone knows him,” Manuel said. “But the talent . . . he’s a very special player.”
GM Omar Minaya was coy, but he never said no to the idea of making Bonds a Met.
And in New York, not saying no is an emphatic maybe.
Let’s be truthful here. There’s no “baseball” reason for not signing Bonds.
In 126 games last season, he hit 28 homers and drove in 66 runs. He walked 132 times, and in an indication that he’s still a feared hitter, 43 of those walks were intentional.
Is there anyone playing today who’s walked intentionally just because?
His .480 on-base percentage last season was above his career average. And overall .276 BA was respectable.
He’s 43. So what.
He’ll be booed. Yeah, until the first ball sails over the Green Monster or into the construction site for the Mets’ new stadium being built hard by Shea.
He’ll be a negative locker-room presence. Not for a team in the hunt.
Not for a team with guts.