Early on in the baseball career of Barry Bonds, he was known as one of the Pittsburgh Pirates Killer B’s. With the numbers Bonds was putting up on scoreboards throughout Major League Baseball for the Pirates in the early 90′s , he won two National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, and was proving to be one of the all-time greats. This was at a time the thought of Bonds breaking the all-time season Home run record 0f 61 home runs was certainly not on the radar, as his greatness revolved around his all around offensive game, and the ability as one of the best left fielders in the game. But, this was all before steroids era.
After reaching free agency after the 1992 season, he moved to West Coast and signed a long term contract the San Fransisco Giants. As the son of former major leaguer Bobby Bonds, he was joining the franchise his Godfather Willie Mays became a legend with.
His amazing offensive numbers continued when he joined with the Giants in 1993. In his first year with the Giants, he won his third NL MVP. The amazing thing about Bonds numbers that is often ignored is the amount of times that pitchers would not give him a good pitch to swing at. With pitchers pitching around Bonds and that the fact that he was a selective hitter, this led to a high number of walks (known as bases on balls) which in effect accounted for his always high On Base Percentage (OBP).
In the decade between 1990 to 2000, Barry Bonds was a slugger with his bat. In this time period, he never had slugging percentage (SLG) fall below the .514 line, and 6 out of these 10 years he slugged above .600. These were terrific numbers representative of a Hall of Fame career.
But, in 1998 the NL slugging pair of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were the talk of baseball parks around America. They were hitting home runs at a record pace, and two were gaining popularity and they were on a pace to beat Roger Marris’s all time season record of 61 home runs in a season. It was Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire that are credited for bringing the baseball fans back, after the strike ending season of 1994 that had caused many fans to stay away from the Major League Baseball product.
It is believed that Barry Bonds became jealous of these two and their record setting home runs, and turned to steroids in a pursuit to become the all-time Home run king. It is believed that Bond’s trainer Greg Anderson supplied Barry Bonds with the steroids, and in the year of 2001 Bonds was hitting home runs at an unbelievable pace. In the year 2001, Bonds hit 73 Home Runs and shattered the all-time record of 70 that was put up by McGwire in 1998. Since 2001, no player has come even close to that number of home runs. For Bonds though, after three consecutive 40 something home run numbers in 2002-2004, he was in range now to breaking the all-time career home run record that Hall of Famer Hank Aaron currently held of 755 home runs.
In 2005, he missed almost the entire season due to a knee injury, and in 2006 he clearly was still battling injuries but managed 26 home runs.
But, last season as the entire baseball community watched on, at the age of 42 Bonds went on to break the all-time home run record of 755. He signed off on the season with the record staying at 762 Home runs. The Giants decided to cut ties with Bonds and his contract was not renewed. He clearly is not the same players he once was, but he still led Major League baseball with his OBP last year and clearly could still contribute to a Major League team.
With Major league teams reporting to their camps in Arizona and Florida, Bond remains unsigned and still wants to play. He is under indictment that he lied under oath to the Feds due to his steroid use. Just recently, their was a press clipping that Bonds failed a drug test for steroids a few years ago that all the media outlets distributed. That report turned out to be a typo, and now the Bonds camp can now take the position that he can not get a fair trial.
In recent months, with the Mitchell report being released the focus with steroids on an all-time great has moved away from Bonds to Roger Clemens. Bonds has been working out on his own looking for a chance to still play. Is he being blackballed from the game? Here is a look a eleven teams (ordered from likely to unlikely) who could actually use a Bonds in 2008:
- Braves: The Braves have career backup Matt Diaz slated to be the starter. Bonds could serve a role here.
- Diamondbacks: The D-Backs just signed Trot Nixon as a reserve. But, with a young outfielder in Justin Upton, he could play a backup and an occasional starter.
- Pirates: With often injured Xavier Nady listed as a starter, Bonds could return to where it all began for him. Though, it would take away playing time from the young player movement here.
- Padres: Chase Headley or Scott Hairston right now is slated to start. Bonds could stay on West Coast and start.
- Royals: This franchise is looking to become a player after not being competitive since Brett left. The outfield here has no household names currently.
- Orioles: With a lot of the young players here, Bonds could take a role as DH. With Aubrey Huff, being a utility player all over the field.
- Rays: He would just have to beat out Gomes at DH. Baldelli eventually would have to get hurt also.
- Mariners: Wilkerson tend to be injury prone. Bonds could serve as DH or in outfield.
- Rangers: They passed on Sammy. Maybe they would take on Bonds with this young team. Seems unlikely though.
- Twins: Seems like Delmon Young and Barry Bonds could see themselves in each other. Unlikely pairing.
- Tigers: He could be reunited with his former manager Jim Leyland. But, his friendship with Sheffield seems to be a factor here. So, unlikely.
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