Meet the New Bonds, Same As the Old Bonds

All Star Game, Award Winners, Ballparks, CBA, Cy Young Award, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MiLB, MLB Trade Deadline, MLB Waiver Trades, MVP, PEDs, Players, Playoffs, Politics, Prospects, Spring Training, Stats, Trade Rumors, Umpires, World Series

There’s a combination of childlike innocence and institutionalized lack of empathy with Barry Bonds whenever he speaks publicly. This is not a criticism or an indictment, it just is. Like an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not an entity that should know better. There’s no changing it nor truly understanding it.

As Bonds is facing the likelihood of his deserved Hall of Fame accomplishments being superseded by the belief that he took performance enhancing drugs to fuel his late-career explosion of exponential production that dwarfed what he did in his clean, younger days as the underappreciated best player in baseball.

One of the reasons Bonds speaks in such reverential tones of Jim Leyland is because Leyland was one of the few people who didn’t want anything from Bonds other than what was precisely on the table: a good performance and professional behavior. Leyland didn’t let Bonds get away with the things that were allowed to pass from the time he was a child and through his big league career because he was the son of Bobby Bonds; how talented he was; his draft status; his MVPs, Gold Gloves, and all-around play. As a result, Leyland is one of the few people who have passed through Bonds’s life for whom he has any respect.

Able to put up that front of behaving as a normal person, Bonds is clearly incapable of comprehending the why behind the actions of others. Like the decision upon the propriety of a handshake/hug/kiss hello and goodbye for an acquaintance or distant family member, Bonds just doesn’t know how to act. It’s an understandable perspective when Bonds was treated as something wholly other because of his name and skills on the baseball field. This was not evident in a contemporary, Ken Griffey Jr., who is seen as the white hat to Bonds’s black hat because Griffey wasn’t placed in that same bubble with a contentious relationship with Ken Griffey Sr. as Bonds had with his father. In later years, there was the pretense of a close relationship. Barry would demand that Bobby be a coach on the Giants’ staff; when Bobby died, Barry claimed he’d “lost his coach.” But it again reverts to the perception designed to be salable to a society that never lived the way Bonds did and has no clue as to why he’s the way he is.

That’s not a defense of the mostly dark side of Barry being Barry. It’s reality.

So when saying to Bonds that he ruined his legacy by choosing to allegedly take PEDs, he has neither the analytical ability to examine the circumstances from the position of anyone other than himself. It made perfect sense to him to use the drugs as well given that he, as the unacknowledged best player in baseball who had an all-world season in 1998, found himself largely ignored in favor of two players—Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa—who were using PEDs and became a worldwide phenomenon while having a fraction of the ability of Bonds. In Bonds’s view, he was playing baseball and they were playing home run derby; they were getting all the accolades, and he was shoved to the side.

In a sense, Bonds was right and proved his point by being better than most every player in baseball clean, then being better than most everyone in baseball when the playing field was again leveled because he was using the same drugs they were. His results were better in both instances because he was better. It’s why he received all those privileges growing up; why he was able to get away with anti-social behaviors; and why he was validated to act as he did: as long as he hit and performed, he could do what he wanted.

Now Bonds is trying a different tack of the regular guy who wants his due, but is doing so in the same vacuum in which he existed as a player and person. He claims he cares about his Hall of Fame prospects and his legacy. No longer are we seeing the arrogant and bullying Bonds; this new Bonds is trying to refurbish his image with such acts of kindness as paying for the college education of Giants’ fan and Dodger Stadium beating victim Bryan Stow’s children (truly a nice thing to do) and is expressing his bewilderment at the seeming blackballing of him out of the game. Bonds claims he wants to be a hitting coach. He would truly be a great one. In comparison to Bonds, few hitters understood what pitchers were trying to do; had that unyielding vision of the strike zone; a natural genius for the game in all its aspects; and the ability to explain complex concepts in terms that would be easily grasped and applicable. It’s not an exercise in “look how much I know” by regurgitating hitting terminology to intimidate, it’s unpretentious knowledge to teach.

He’s not going to get that chance to be a hitting coach because of the memories of Bonds’s behavior. McGwire’s a hitting coach because people like him. Bonds won’t because people didn’t like him; they tolerated him because they had little choice.

Hall of Fame voters are using the PED allegations as a way to keep Bonds out when, had he been a clean Jim Rice type of player on the borderline, his attitude and that he wasn’t nice to them would be the real reason for keeping him out as it was with Rice. They can’t deny him due to questionable credentials, so he’ll be denied because of PEDs. It’s partial dogmatism; partial hardline response to the apparent drug use via punitive measures; partial vindictiveness.

My criteria for a Hall of Fame yay or nay with the PED era is whether the player was a Hall of Famer before he is accused of having used the drugs. McGwire, Sosa and others weren’t. Bonds and Roger Clemens were. Therefore they should be elected.

That’s not going to sway a vast number of the voters, though. They’ll keep him out because they want to keep him out, and the Bonds PR blitz isn’t going to swing them in his favor because they don’t believe he’s changed from what they thought he was. Probably because he hasn’t. Probably because he can’t.

//

Advertisements

A Passover Bounty For The Hebrew Hammer

Books, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

Ryan Braun signed a contract extension with the Brewers through 2020.

Like Troy Tulowitzki before him, Braun’s new contract is on top of his prior contract that he signed after his rookie year. He’s guaranteed $145 million with a mutual option for 2021 and a $4 million buyout.

He’ll be 37-years-old at its conclusion.

Braun is a terrific hitter as is Tulowitzki, but I’m not a fan of these souped-up, long-term deals for players in their 20s. Essentially the Brewers and Rockies have locked themselves in with two fine players through the ends of their careers for a lot of money.

As much as there’s a new formula for value placed on players and what they’re likely to be worth financially, a 10-year commitment to one player is far too much for me to stomach. And for teams with payroll constraints like the Brewers and Rockies, it’s a risk to give even the most conscientious and serious players that kind of security.

Both Tulowitzki and Braun were signed at reasonable rates for the foreseeable future—Tulowitzki’s was until 2015; Braun’s 2016; now they’re locked in with their clubs.

Was there a sense of urgency to do this now? And the reaction to Braun making this decision to forego his chance at free agency in four years time is being treated as if he did the Brewers a tremendous favor. Ken Griffey Jr. took a far below market value contract at the time ($116.5 million) when he forced the Mariners to trade him to the Reds, the Reds and no one but the Reds. That didn’t go so well.

When Griffey’s deal was announced, Scott Boras said: “If the player owns a Rolls-Royce and he chooses to sell it at Volkswagen prices, that’s his right.”

Braun and the Brewers made a mutual decision to rely on one another for the rest of Braun’s years of productivity. Both sides seem happy, but I wouldn’t have done this due to the potential of complacency; satisfaction; injury; and age.

2021 is a long way away.

****

I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic.

****

Purchase my book, Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide. It’s good for fantasy players and everyone else.

I published a full excerpt of my book here.

It’s available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon or BN. It’s also available via E-book on Borders.com.

It’s out on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

If anyone would like to purchase an autographed copy, leave a comment; Email me; contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Become a fan on my Facebook fan page. Click on the link.

//

Viewer Mail 3.11.2011

Books, Management, Players, Spring Training

Norm writes RE Moneyball and stat guys:

I have to support Paul here. The reason Billy Beane is his white whale or even bete noire is simple: the Moneyball sabermetric fans are taking over the sports business.

***

While I realize the dorks admit their stats are imperfect and are contantly trying to revise them, until they do develop the perfect stats, they should advance their cause with some humility. They should stop with the Joe Posnanski/Bill James shtick of ‘you thought the answer was A. Actually, the answer is B! Haha, you cretin!”
What it comes down to is this: if you were a team owner, would you trust a good squad of scouts to blanket a league and rate players, or would you save the money on scouts and just use ‘advanced analytics’ as they are currently presented?

And would you give Billy Beane any deference? In a post steroid world, where he cannot field an offence of slow white guys taking walks in front of juicehead sluggers?

Norm’s comment is exemplified in the visceral reaction to the new book that supposedly “blows the lid” off Moneyball. Such was the case with this snide posting from Rob Neyer in his new home on SBNation.

Neyer’s “best” shot?

“Anyway, I think I ordered this book months ago. Should be a hoot.”

Then, getting to the comments, you see the same reactionary, internet tough guy stuff that is always a hallmark of the last guy you want at your back in a dark alley. It’s weak and pathetic.

How about a cogent argument against their hypothesis without the snark?

Here’s a suggestion: read the book and come up with a detailed response rather than a vicious, mouthy retort based on something you haven’t read.

If Joe (Statmagician) ever contributed anything to this site, it was pointing out my constant harping on the phrase “stat zombie” creating an atmosphere of tension in which my own statements were secondary to my balled fists.

Calling names does no one any good.

Regarding that book “exposing” Moneyball, I doubt it’s of any use. There is a way to tear into Moneyball as it stands and it has nothing to do with disproving what Michael Lewis crafted, but taking the book and using it to destroy it in a calm, cannibalistic, point-by-point fashion.

Turn the tables and use Lewis’s own weapon to destroy Moneyball.

The men who wrote that new book can’t do it.

But I can.

And will.

The Other Mike in The Bleacher Seats writes RE me, Billy Beane and Moneyball:

I hope you know that nothing about my comment was meant to be taken seriously. Except for the bit about the white whale.

In what way hasn’t Billy Beane already failed? He’s still a GM, sure, but he’s never fielded a WS team and most of his time in office has been dominated by the Angels.

If I’m waiting for Beane to fail, I’ve been waiting too long.

I know you were kidding; people think I’m obsessed and I’m not; I’m trying to teach the same people who feel as if Moneyball allowed them to proclaim themselves as experts that there’s a true path to learning the game properly and it’s not through the eyes of a Michael Lewis, a man with an agenda and the writing skills to subtly twist the narrative in the direction he wanted it to go.

The other issue with Beane and the hardcore “stats above all else” advocates is that there’s always an excuse for the failure. Nothing is more idiotic than the “playoffs are a crapshoot” nonsense; it’s close, but not quite, on a level with the “card-counting in the draft”.

Only through me can you achieve a power great enough to learn the true nature of the Dark Side…

Joe (Dagodfather on Twitter) writes RE Zack Greinke:

I got good news for you. There IS a clause in a standard player’s contract that says that they are not allowed to participate in any activity where they can reasonably be injured that’s not associated with preparing for their game. The problem is can playing basketball be considered “preparing for their game”? I know that may sound strange but it’s a great cardio workout and helps with agility, leaping, and going side-to-side. It also helps keep up their natural competitive nature without doing anything illegal.

I’m aware of the contractual stipulation, Joe.

I doubt any team—barring a catastrophic injury—will give a player a hard time about playing basketball in the off-season.

A) there’s no way to stop them; B) they’re elite athletes who can handle an intense pickup basketball game; and C) it’s not a dangerous activity.

Greinke was unlucky. If I were paying him, I’d prefer he refrained from doing it, but it’s better than other trouble players tend to get into in the off-season.

My main thrust in the posting was that there’s an overreaction to a chance injury. Because it was Greinke and not a nondescript middle reliever, the club shrugged it off because they can’t do anything else.

One such overreaction came on MLB Trade Rumors in this posting.

First it’s straight reporting as to what the Rangers would’ve had to surrender to get Greinke; then there’s this:

“Now that Greinke has a cracked rib, the Rangers are probably glad they held onto their players.”

Where’s the connection?

I could see if he blew out his elbow pitching or had a recurrence of his off-field depression issues from early in his career; but because he cracked a rib playing hoops the Rangers are more pleased they didn’t gut their system to get Greinke?

They rejected a deal based on the price; the player was injured in an off-field incident that might not have happened had the trade been to the Rangers and not the Brewers. It’s a Terminator-style alternate reality, but maybe Greinke would’ve had a Rangers-related activity on the day he played basketball; perhaps he’d have been house-hunting in Texas; or whatever.

It’s a stupid assumption that the Rangers are “relieved” because of an accident.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Zack Greinke:

Put that way, I guess the teams don’t have much of a say in what their players do in the offseason. I recall (Ken Griffey Jr.) getting hurt “playing with his kids”… they certainly can’t ban that.

It’s all in context and depends on the player, his salary and value to the team. Greinke gets the vanilla reaction from the GM; if it was Wil Nieves, he gets released.

Joe (Statmagician) writes RE Moneyball:

Have you seen the movie ‘Pi?’ Moneyball is your “Pi,” Paul.

Pi, Darren Aronofsky’s first full-length film made on a shoestring budget in black and white—great movie.

You neglect to mention that the protagonist happened to be right in his attempts at exposing the truth.

Just like me with Moneyball.

Paul Lebowitz’s 2011 Baseball Guide is available now. Click here to get it in paperback or E-Book on I-Universe or on Amazon.


//