Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Holding Out For An Anti-Hero

Being that it is tax day, it seems appropriate to write about things that pretty much everyone hates. Like Barry Bonds. There have been rumblings that it is only a matter of time before some team signs him - that they have all waited long enough and wouldn't have to pay top dollar anymore.

So how is it that no struggling team (read: Detroit Tigers) has signed him? So he is a clubhouse poison. So he comes out of the box like Billy Crystal in his MLB debut this spring. So he could never win anything when he was doped up like it was the All-Drug Olympics. So he will double any team's food budget (besides the Dodgers who already have Andruw Jones eating anything that sits still for a moment). Who cares?

Last year he hit a home run every 11 times at bat. He puts butts in the seats and the reporters in the press box - both of which put advertising dollars in your bank account. He can play DH and never run out a double. He doesn't need to carry the team, just scare the hell out of pitchers enough to make them pitch to the rest of the guys.

But the reasons that no one will sign him this year (or ever again) have nothing to do with his on base percentage or home run total. Signing him is a sign of panic and tells your players you don't think they can do it, which is a bad move even for the Tigers who supposedly have one of the most prolific offenses in history but are in last place and are averaging three runs per game. If your clubhouse is happy and friendly, he will make it tense and uncomfortable. If your clubhouse is tense and uncomfortable, he will cause it to explode and will likely eat someone.

As for the on-the-field performance questions, it isn't his inability to leg out and infield hit that makes him unhirable, it is that he could be thrown out at first from left field. As all of the cool-aid drinking San Franciscans whined, 'roids wouldn't make him see the ball better or improve his hand-eye coordination. But as everyone else argued, if you are 15 percent stronger because of drugs, a 350-foot gapper is now a 400-foot dinger. Bonds cannot be dumb enough to still be juicing (right?), and he is now 44-years-old, so that 350-foot gapper is now about a 300-foot flyout. He'd never get an intentional walk again and would never be pitched around.

I suppose someone will sign him. It will probably be Texas as another season withers away and they need something to make it interesting (plus they got 21 homers and 92 RBI out of Sosa last year). But he won't be nearly as hate-able as he once was, being a needle-scarred shell of his former self. So who are we to hate now? Sheffield? The poor bastard is stuck in Detroit and has to make wild racism claims just to make the national papers. It is weird to not have any great villains on the field. There are jerks (Manny, Larry Jones, Jeff Kent, Arod) but no proper villains.

Where have you gone Roger Clemens?

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