- Karma -- it ain't no joke. For most of his 22-year major league career, Bonds was the undisputed president and CEO of the AMSAPS (Arrogant, Mean-Spirited Athletes in Professional Sports) Movement. Inside clubhouses, he scowled at teammates, reporters and club employees as if they were grime beneath his freshly manicured fingernails. On the field, he ignored 99 percent of fans who called his name, desperate for an autograph, a wave or even a simple nod. He treated his personal staffers like cockroaches and his wives like broken appliances.His greatest failure came in response to the so-called waiter test -- How do you approach those individuals who you don't need? Or, as Curt Schilling recently told Dan Patrick about Bonds: "I just always had a problem liking people who treated people as less-than, as sub-humans. You want to find out about a player, talk to the trainers and the clubhouse guys. When you find players that treat those people like dirt, those generally tend to be the guys that are just bad people."
For a ballplayer obsessed with his legacy, Bonds has no legacy. The once-vaunted all-time home run record? Insignificant and tainted by steroids. His Hall of Fame worthiness? A non-issue. With his performance-enhanced career, coupled with an attitude south of horrific, Bonds is voted into the Hall right after Moose Haas and Keith Garagozzo. His Q-rating? When's the last time you wore your No. 25 Giants jersey? His odds of being signed as a free agent? Zero. His odds of being hired as a major league coach or broadcaster? Zero. People in the game who truly like him? Zero. People outside of the game who truly like him? Zero.
Truth be told, his is the age-old story of the high school bully picking on the math wiz. "One day," the calculator-toting geek thinks to himself, "you won't be treating me this way. One day ..."
For Barry Bonds, one day has arrived. His wife Liz recently left him. His Web site, once the only way he would interact with the media, hasn't been updated for two months.
Of course, I only know this because, while writing these words, I took a moment to Google "Barry Bonds."
Otherwise, I don't care.
One day, Barry Bonds' image will be rehabilitated. Bonds himself isn't likely to change. Oh, the edges may soften a little, but he'll be the same person at 55 and 65 that he is today, at 45. But there are thousands and thousands of fans in the Bay Area who cheered his every move for 15 years, and if they ever knew that he was a jerk in real life they didn't care, or won't in their (and Bonds') dotage.
Just last weekend, I met a Giants fan who thinks Barry Bonds has gotten a raw deal from ... (wait for it) ... the media. OK. Fair enough. When you treat writers with disdain, they remember. And try as they might (granted, some don't try), it's hard to keep those memories out of your coverage. Which isn't to say I'm a fan, and I've never met the guy.
Bonds isn't going to become beloved, because he doesn't seem lovable. He's not going to become a broadcaster, because he's largely inarticulate. He's not going to play again, because he's 45.
I do believe he'll someday be rehabilitated, though. Because of the memories, and because of the numbers. I believe he'll someday be in the Hall of Fame, and I believe he'll someday be immortalized in bronze outside the Giants' beautiful home.
Karma might not be a joke, but I've noticed that it often seems to fade away before the statistics do.