Barry Bonds polishing tarnished image
On this day five years ago, I convinced one of my best friends to buy standing room only tickets to AT&T Park.
I wanted to watch history. He wanted to try to catch it.
I took my camera. He took his glove.
August 7, 2007 should be a special day in baseball history. On that night, Barry Bonds hit a 3-2 pitch from Washington’s Mike Bacsik 435 feet into right-center to pass Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list.
Bonds should be celebrated for what he accomplished on this day five years ago. Instead, baseball treats this day like any other.
Anytime you see or read a fresh interview with Bonds, you get the sense that he wants forgiveness for the persona that he created during his playing days.
You get the sense that he wants people to like him. He wants forgiveness from the baseball community that he was so rude to.
Bonds has made it clear that he wants to coach young hitters at a professional level. But so far, the Giants have kept their distance.
Bonds sat down with MLB.com’s Barry Bloom for a candid interview where he discussed just about every relevant topic, including his Hall of Fame candidacy, which will become a hot topic in the coming months:
“The character I created on the field was a different person than the way I was off the field. It was that person that made me perform. It gave me the push to perform. Whether you hated me or loved me, you came to see that person perform.”
It’s well-known Bonds was pretty abrasive with the media. But Bonds says there was a good reason for that:
“And with the media, I needed space. When the first thing that happens after you get to the clubhouse every day is questions about the chase or how you feel, I’ll admit it now that it was hard for me to deal with and I could’ve done it a lot better.”
Bonds passed his godfather Willie Mays on the all-time home run list on April 13, 2004, but did not break Hank Aaron’s record until August 7, 2007. That meant that he had to answer questions about the record for parts of four seasons.
Bloom asked Bonds if that was hard to deal with:
“I could’ve given the media a little more than I did at the time. Back then, I didn’t think I could. But I also feel that the people around me could have given me some breathing room to make it easier.”
Bloom and Bonds spoke about the way Bonds’ career came to an end. The Giants didn’t want him anymore and the other 29 teams didn’t even give a thought to offering him a contract. Bonds was an outcast at that point:
“Would I have liked things to have been different? Sure, I would have love them to be different. On one side of it, I’m disappointed. I should have been able to play one more year. That’s all I wanted.”
Bonds’ name will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot this winter. Many feel he should not be allowed in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown due to his link with performance-enhancing substances. Many voters have said they won’t vote for any player linked to the steroids era, including Bonds.
Undoubtedly, Bonds won’t make the Hall this winter. He’s a pariah. Today is a day that should be celebrated around the baseball world. Instead, no one is mentioning it, hoping that everyone will let the day pass without mention.
Five years after that historic day, Bonds is trying to repair his image one interview at a time.