Bonds Fades Away

The Sports Guy meditates on the legacy of Barry Bonds:

Opening Day came and went without Bonds for the first time in 22 years, and nobody seemed to notice. I didn’t think about him for more than two seconds all spring. Did anyone? Can you remember being a part of a single “I wonder where Bonds is going to end up?” conversation? Did you refresh ESPN.com incessantly in hopes of a Bonds update? Were fans in Baltimore storming Orioles headquarters to demand the team sign the much-needed slugger who had 28 homers and a whopping .480 OBP last season?

Of course not. No one cared. The best hitter since Ted Williams is gone and forgotten. We wanted him to go away, and he did.

The pre-BALCO Bonds was the single best player of the 1990s—a flawless leftfielder who averaged .302/36/108 with an on-base percentage of .434, joined the 40/40 club and earned three MVPs and eight Gold Gloves. Had he finished his career the old-fashioned way, Bonds would have cruised into Cooperstown. Now he’ll likely be left out until the day the Hall wises up and opens a wing for disgraced legends.

For all intents and purposes, Bonds’ career has vanished into thin air. His home ballpark has had three different names (Pac Bell, SBC and AT&T), but it was mostly considered the House That Barry Built. This season, though, all traces of his dirigible-size head have been erased. Forget about a statue, inside or outside the stadium; there isn’t a plaque, a banner or even a picture. It’s like Bonds never happened.

We may not have heard the last of Barry yet. What happens later in the season when a team that’s struggling to make the playoffs, with a manager who’s hanging on by his fingernails, needs a reliable power hitter to get over the hump? That big ol’ swelled head might look mighty appealing in the dog days of August.