Wednesday, March 4, 2009
'Soft' landing for the HR king
By Gene Wojciechowski ESPN.com
Company softball season is right around the corner, so I'm sitting here enjoying a cool, refreshing injection of flaxseed oil while applying an invigorating coat of arthritic balm to my shoulders, chest and cranium -- you know, just like my hero Barry Bonds.
And just like my hero, I have a day-planner calendar detailing my pre-softball season regimen -- all in consultation with my personal trainer, who just happens to be my best friend.
Bonds was all smiles in this photo taken after the 2008 season.
March 1: Call Flaxseed Cottage and order more flaxseed oil and flaxseed needles.
March 2: Have best friend pop hard-to-reach back zits.
March 3: Rage management class -- 4 p.m. to f*@#&%! 5 p.m.
March 4: Bench-press Prius.
And it's so weird, because my best friend said, totally out of the blue, that if federal investigators ever were to confiscate my calendar and later indict me, he'd rather go to jail than testify against me.
So I said to him, as I swept the room for bugging devices: "Why would federal authorities ever indict me? My massivity is the result of hard work, flaxseed oil and arthritic balm."
By the way, I hit 409 home runs last softball season for our ESPN.com team. What can I say? The ball really carries at Tunxis Mead Park.
Anyway, I am soooo happy to hear that Bonds' federal trial has been delayed until the end of time. That means his agent can contact all of the 30 major league teams to gauge their level of interest in the home run king.
I hope it works out. The same thing happened last year, and every team took a pass, even though Bonds was willing to play for the MLB's minimum salary.
Maybe that's why his agent, Jeff Borris, told USA Today, "Major League Baseball was successful in conspiring in keeping Barry out of uniform in 2008. Unless they have a change in heart, or see an error in their ways, I seriously doubt that clubs will give him the opportunity to play this year."
Borris is right. If I were Barry, I'd ask all those general managers why they were being so unfair to me. And if I didn't like their answer, I'd rip their heads off with a socket wrench. (Wow, that arthritic balm sure riles me up, doesn't it?)
I have other friends -- not best friends, mind you -- who say Borris' collusion theory is nuttier than a can of Planters. They say MLB can't read a weather report during the World Series, so how in the world can it coordinate a massive, leaguewide conspiracy against Bonds?
Maybe, they say, it's as simple as this: Nobody wants Bonds.
Nobody wants a guy who is older than every big league ballyard except Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium.
Nobody wants a guy who breaks down quicker than a cube of sugar plopped in a cup of hot tea.
Nobody wants a guy who can't run, has a Jacque Jones throwing arm and who last played a game on Sept. 26, 2007. (Bonds took an oh-fer, committed an error and was pulled in the ninth inning.)
Nobody wants a guy who played 14 games, 130 games and 126 games during his last three active seasons.
Nobody wants a guy whose crummy San Francisco Giants team actually won more games without him (72-90 in 2008) than with him (71-91 in 2007).
Nobody wants his Debbie Downer clubhouse attitude or his picking and choosing when he plays. (Giants manager Bruce Bochy can tell you all about it.)
And that's just the baseball part of the Bonds equation.
My non-best friends also say that if you sign Bonds, you sign his legacy of "the clear" and "the cream." You sign his asterisks. You sign the 11-piece luggage set of controversy that follows him everywhere.
They say it doesn't really matter whether the trial ever begins, or whether Bonds is actually convicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. The fact that Anderson won't testify at all -- not even to say that his best friend is innocent, that Bonds knew nothing of what was being done to his body -- is proof enough. Modest jail time or house arrest isn't as important as Bonds' being kept away from the game of baseball.
I'm confused. First of all, I have no idea what the clear and the cream are. Second, if Anderson could exonerate my hero, Barry Bonds, of all wrongdoing, then why not do so?
Unless he can't.
In the meantime, I have good news for Borris. I talked to our team captain, and Bonds can play in our softball league. We'll need $20 for the ESPN.com jersey. He has to bring his own hat. (Ours go only to size 11.)
This is perfect for Bonds. He doesn't have to play the outfield. He can DH. The games are only seven innings (just like in '07, when often he was pulled late in Giants games for defensive reasons). And because of his knees and hip, we'll let him sit out the second game of the doubleheaders.
We open against Cal's Auto. I'll bring the flaxseed.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.