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Bashing Barry's Ball
Time’s running out. You only have until 11:59 (ET) tonight to weigh in on the fate of Barry Bonds’s record-setting 756th home run ball. New York fashion mogul Marc Ecko bought the ball for $750,000 from Queens native Matt Murphy, who emerged bloodied but unbroken from the scrum at AT&T Park. Ecko said he is putting the fate of the ball in the click of the people. Go to Web site, www.vote756.com/marcecko/ where Ecko offers three options.
*Bestow it. Give the ball to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
*Brand it. Put an asterisk that would acknowledge the public’s suspicion that Bonds used steroids to boost his strength and then send it to the Hall.
* Banish it. Put the ball on a rocket ship and launch it into space, a de facto moon shot for the ages, leaving Barry’s ball of sight and out of mom.
As of noon (ET) today, the site has already logged in more than 10 million votes.
Personally, I would have preferred another couple of choices involving two gentlemen who remained so steadfast in their position on Bonds’s toppling of the most hallowed record in sports. First, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig fungoing the ball into McCovey’s Cove. The second: Selig providing soft toss to Hank Aaron, so Hammering Hank could send the ball, encased within a huge melon, into that body of water (imagine the ensuing kayak scrum). This could serve as bonus coverage on Extra Innings or MLB.TV, the league’s pay-per-view packages.
In all seriousness, I voted to send the ball to the Hall of Fame, sans asterisk. If and when Bonds is actually found guilty by ongoing investigations, that’s one thing. In the meantime, people should be able to espy the historical sphere — unmarked accept the stain of his maple bat – and make their own decision relative to the significance of the achievement.
That’s exactly what front offices around the bigs are going to have to do this off-season now that the Giants have declared that Bonds won’t be on their roster for the 2008 season. Just where he’ll end up has sparked considerable debate.
Bonds wants to pursue his dream of winning the World Series, not to mention reaching 3,000 hits, a total of which is currently 65 light. He might not be able to run that well any more and his outfielding skills have diminished accordingly. But he still swings a mean bat and his on-base percentage is through the roof. Many pitchers still fear him. Sounds like he’s an ideal designated hitter. Or at the very least an American Leaguer, where he could play some innings in the outfield, at first base and soak up the rest of his at-bats in a DH capacity.
The question though is having Bonds’s bat in the middle of your lineup worth the risk. While some argue that since he has the hit the home run, the vitriol from fans and press has diminished and would become even less of a concern. Maybe so, but if he were to go to the AL, a whole new set of media could descend on him on first-time road trips.
With Aaron’s record in hand, does his final dinger tally really matter? I guess to A-Rod and the number he’ll be shooting at six to eight years from now.
No, Bonds’s new number is 65. While that may be exciting to Barry backers and historians, I’m not sure the count down to 3,000 really puts that many extra fannies in the seats until he approaches the mark.
On TV that’s another matter. Provided Bonds is contributing regularly and presumably to a team’s win total, that’s going to make for good viewing. Indeed, the spectacle would give way to, er, on-field substance.
Unless, of course, some holes finally emerge in the games of Bonds’s lawyers and accountants. While his swing—perhaps the game’s prettiest for its compact brevity—has slowed some, his barristers and tax guys remain the best in the business. They have to be. Otherwise Bonds would have been indicted by now, right?
Will teams assume that risk, presumably at far less that Bonds’s $15 million-plus salary this year, of that happening on their watch, without the benefit of the home run chase? We’ll see in the months ahead.
In the meantime, Baseball Prospectus made the Padres the favorites to engage Bonds next season—and that was before Milton Bradley and Mike Cameron both went down with injuries.