Saturday, April 04, 2015

Barry Bonds: An Appreciation

Grant Bisbee of McCovey Chronicles has a long column about Barry Bonds. There's some terrific writing, particularly about 1993 and a homer in 1995 --

Instead, Bonds saves the city of San Francisco. This isn’t hyperbole. Without Bonds, San Francisco sinks into the shadow world. The place becomes a windy morass that’s completely bereft of baseball and the culture that comes with it. Without baseball, San Francisco becomes a place filled with Guy Fieri restaurants and neon signs. Boondock Saints 2 plays in every movie house forever, and the classiest thing to appear in the War Memorial Opera House is a Le Pétomane cover act. Without Bonds, the city is ruined.
Bonds saves it all.
Well, the rich people who bought the team did first, but Bonds helps the healing. Here’s the first thing Bonds does in his new (old) home.
The Tampa Bay Giants were ghoulish enough to make 5-year-old children cry, but they were almost certainly about to exist. There was a baseball game in San Francisco, though, and the best player in baseball hit a home run in that very game. Barry Bonds will get a standing ovation in San Francisco if he stops the World Series, stands on home plate, and eats a live pigeon. If you want to know why, start with the Tampa Bay Giants team that wasn’t.
Here’s Bonds in 1995, launching a game-winning home run in the ninth inning against the Padres. It was a meaningless, meaningful homer into the bowels of a place that’ll be ash and cinder in less than a year. Neither team won the World Series. Neither team made the playoffs. Neither team meant a damned thing. No one cared. Except I cared. It was real to me, dammit. It was real to me.
On a personal level, it was one of the most meaningful home runs in my life. I don’t know when my casual fandom morphed into an obsessive fandom, but this one home run was in the middle of it. Bonds hit it off Trevor Hoffman, who will make the Hall of Fame before him, even if that’s a glitch, an error in the code, something the techs will be by to fix in the morning.
The home run was everything you hope for when you go to a baseball game, and later that night, I went into a video store with my friends, all still buzzing. We see a kid from our high school, ask him if he’s a Giants fan.
“Not this year, I’m not.”
The Giants aren’t good in 1995, you see, so he checked out early. I want to scream, “But they have Barry Bonds.” I should have made a scene. Pulled the fire alarm, jammed the Apollo 13 display into the door so no one could get out. You’re telling me you don’t realize what Barry Bonds is, what you’re missing?


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