After seeing Barry Bonds play in person at Dodger Stadium over the weekend, we have a confession: We don't have the gumption to boo him anymore. It's not that we don't think he's a jerk anymore, or don't feel betrayed that he broke countless baseball records while taking enough steroids to kill a horse. It's just that the time when he is most hated happens to coincide with the point of his largest vulnerability.
To put it simply, Bonds looks like he's about to break off into little pieces. He wobbles, Vito Spatafore-like, when he runs, and his knees shake perilously, like a dying dog trying to pee. Forget Hank Aaron; Bonds is going to be lucky to catch Ruth. Despite his, uh, rather ample upper body muscles, Bonds isn't able to push off his legs enough to get the ball out of the park.
Two telling moments so far. First, a ball he hit at
Pac Bell AT&T Park last week. He hit it solid, and the minute he hit it, he knew it was gone. He's hit enough of them; he knows. Except, he didn't. The ball landed at the warning track. It reminded us of the melancholy moment in Moneyball, when David Justice, in the last year of his career, laments a long fly out, saying, "That would have been out three years ago." Bonds is beginning to realize what he has lost, which brings us to the second telling moment; on Saturday night, in the ninth inning, Bonds poked a double into left field, which was wide open because of the perpetual Bonds shift. We're convinced Bonds could have batted .500 the last couple of years if he had gone to right whenever he wanted. Bonds is taking his hits where he can get them, rather than simply doing whatever he wants.
Bonds is still walking, of course, because he is still Barry Bonds. But that man we hated and stood in awe of ... he's gone. That Bonds finally falls apart while criminal charges, steroid investigations and bloodthirsty fans converge upon him is either an multi-car pileup, or what he deserved all along. Depends on your perspective. But that's exactly what's happening.
Perhaps Even B arry Chuckled Later [Deadspin]