The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Form Your Own Opinions about Bonds

Barry Bonds had a press conference on Tuesday, which officially marked the start of his 2005 baseball season. Bonds traditionally keeps his distance from the press and it’s likely that Tuesday’s discussion will likely be one of the few times that Bonds speaks with the media this year (the day he passes or ties Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list will likely be an exception).

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s conference, much has been written and said about Bonds. Much of it has been unfair. Some have criticized Bonds for “playing the race card” while others continue to knock his off-putting attitude. What makes all of this difficult for the average person to digest is that you really don’t get a chance to hear Bonds speak about things. What you do get is chopped up snippets from a very long conversation. The end result is that you don’t necessarily get an accurate representation of what Bonds was trying to say. Instead you get the story that the reporter or news organization wants to tell you.

And that is precisely the beauty of the web. While I couldn’t find an unedited video or audio clip of the conversation (and it was a pretty long conference, so it would have been a sizeable file anyway), did post a complete transcript from Tuesday. Before you jump to any conclusions about Bonds, I’d encourage you to read it in its entirety.

After doing so personally, and putting myself in Barry’s position – in the sense of thinking through how I would respond to the repeated barrage of similar questions – it became easier for me to understand Barry’s reactions and his short-fuse for the media.

Even if you don’t walk away thinking like I did, that’s fine. Most everyone can still agree that he’s one of the greatest – and possibly the greatest – player of recent generations. Some would even go farther than that – by stripping off the recent generation part of it. We may never know whether or not Bonds (Giambi, Sosa, McGwire, etc) used steroids, and we definitely will never know the degree to which they improved his performance, but I think most objective observers would agree that he is among the all-time elite baseball players. From there, it’s all up to debate – and personal biases and preferences are sure to come into play. Steroids or not – with his early 90s or early 2000s game, I’d want Bonds in my starting lineup.


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