Poor Barry Bonds. The biggest cheater in Major League Baseball history evidently feels like baseball has given him a “death sentence”—as reported by multiple news outlets this weekend.
The horror! The horror!
As the furor over the sign-stealing scandals sadly and strangely exceeds anything the PED era (that Bonds spearheaded and still embodies, pun intended) generated in terms of player anger, it’s ironic that Bonds had to insert himself into the narrative right now.
Let’s revisit some facts:
- Before the 1999 season, Bonds had compiled an amazing career, hitting .290 with a .398 on-base percentage, and a .556 slugging percentage. He pulled off the improbable with his 1996 season (42 home runs, 40 stolen bases), and Bonds already had three National League MVP awards on his shelf, to go with eight Gold Gloves (even though his throwing arm was always weak). He was headed to the Hall of Fame on his first 13 seasons alone, even if he never played another year.
- Starting with the 1999 season, when he was 34 years old, Bonds suddenly turned into Babe Ruth, hitting .319 over the next nine years until retirement after the 2007 regular season. His OBP jumped to .505, while his slugging percentage miraculously leaped to the .721 level. While his defense never netted him another Gold Glove—some very visible muscle/weight gain actually made him a liability in the field, as Bonds posted -6.1 dWAR over these nine seasons—he did win four more NL MVPs.
But at what cost did Bonds’ late-career surge come? He became the most dominant hitter in the history of the game, despite the fact he suddenly couldn’t play defense anymore. Throw in the boatload of evidence he was taking PEDs, and it’s clear Bonds made a decision in the 1998 offseason to cheat.
The new muscle caused him to tear his triceps tendon during 1999 season, a common injury for athletes that suddenly develop new bulk from PED use. Once the inevitable adjustment took root, however, Bonds became Ruthian, as noted above.
See the comparison:
- Ruth career: .474 OBP, .690 SLG, 1.164 OPS, 206 OPS+
- Bonds (1999-2007): .505 OBP, .721 SLG, 1.226 OPS, 207 OPS+
Ruth played until he was 40 years old; Bonds retired at age 42. How is it possible for an individual, 13 years into his career, to suddenly get astronomically better and then play at a Ruthian level until age 42? Common sense, logic, documented court evidence, and hard statistical evidence leaves us with one obvious conclusion.
Bonds gave himself a death sentence by cheating. He has no one to blame but himself for whatever purgatory he thinks he’s in right now. No one in the sport of baseball should be giving him the time of day, period.
He can cry himself to sleep on the huge pile of money the San Francisco Giants—via the sycophantic fans that enabled the cheating by supporting it through ticket sales, merchandise buys, and adoring cheers—paid him to be a fraud, all told around $180 million, at least.
Who mourns for “Barroid” Bonds? No one should—not even the Fraud King himself.