Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whither Goest Blackballed Barry?

The first pitches of live spring training games have been thrown, and still Barry Bonds finds himself without a team. Right now, his agent Jeff Borris is traveling from park to park and hoping to sell someone on Barry's still potent stick. It's like he's filming a BangBus movie and trying to see what GM he can persuade to get into the van. Unfortunately for Bonds, so far he has no takers despite the fact that even at age 43, he still got on base 48% of the time he stepped to the plate; and it's now Roger Clemens and not him that's the performance enhancing villain du jour. But as the season gets closer and teams realize that their lineup isn't the machine they'd envisioned in the winter meetings, Bonds should start getting more consideration. Even then, his options will be limited. Here is a look at possible destinations for Barry, listed from least to most likely, by my own guesstimation:

San Diego Padres
Reasons to sign: Right now, the Padres projected left fielder is either Scott Hairston or Chase Headley, who hasn't played in the outfield since college. Bonds has hit more home runs against the Padres than any other team, so maybe there's something about the San Diego parks that bring out the best in him. Tijuana is just a 15 minute drive from the park, making the acquisition of steroids, ephedra, HGH, viagra, etc. a breeze.
Reasons not to sign: While San Diego fans are known to be laid back, Barry Bonds has been one of the few players to elicit actual hatred from the home crowd. San Diegans won't start rooting for Barry just because he's wearing a Padres jersey.
Verdict: Padres fans would rather see an adopted golden retreiver from Petco in left field than Barry Bonds. If Kevin Towers were to sign Bonds, it would likely be his last move as GM.

Texas Rangers
Reasons to sign: According to Sportsline, the Rangers will once again go with Frank Catalanotto at DH and bat him 9th. Ninth...for the designated hitter? Rangers Ballpark is a launching pad in the summertime, and Bonds could give some much needed pop to a relatively anemic lineup. Sammy Sosa played for the Rangers last year, so fans are already accustomed to being asked to cheer for a player who's assumed to have used performance enhancing drugs.
Reasons not to sign: If Bonds were to sign with the Rangers, it would mean that he wouldn't get the chance to face Rangers' pitching.
Verdict: To me, this move seems to make a lot of sense, which means there's no way Tom Hicks will ever do it.

Oakland A's
Reasons to sign: Right now, the A's have a triple A team playing in a crappy stadium, and there is no reason that anyone would want to watch them play. With Bonds, the A's could tap into his Bay Area fan base. In going from San Francisco to Oakland, Bonds would save a ton on shipping costs for his Barcalounger.
Reasons not to sign: Even with an incentive-laden contract, Bonds would still cost money, and the A's are loathe to spend more than minor league money. If attendance plummets further this season, the A's can always just tarp off another section of seats to give the appearance of a denser crowd.
Verdict: Even though Bonds excels in Beane's much coveted metric of on base percentage, the A's appear content to just enjoy profits through revenue sharing without worrying about such nonsense as fielding a winning team.

Japanese League
Reasons to sign: Already passed Hank Aaron, now it's time to go after Sadaharu Oh. Yen is performing well against the dollar of late. Japanese women are already used to seeing guys with tiny testicles.
Reasons not to sign: In Japan, when you ask for "the cream," they hand you a bukakke video. In the Japanese league, you actually have to hustle.
Verdict: Not as clazy as it sounds.

Tampa Bay Rays (nee Devil Rays)
Reasons to sign: For the Rays, it sure would be nice if fans came to a game other than when the Red Sox or Yankees were in town. Bonds could buy booze for all the kids on the roster. Florida has no income tax, meaning one fewer risk for investigation into tax evasion. Pedro Gomez already has a retirement home in Florida, so that works out nicely for him.
Reasons not to sign: If ESPN starts showing up to Tampa Bay games, someone might notice that in an effort to cut costs, the Rays have been dressing up little leaguers, throwing them out on the field, and paying them in jolly ranchers.
Verdict: What have they got to lose? It's not like either party had any dignity to begin with.

So I guess it comes down to Tampa Bay and Japan for Barry. Neither really qualifies as Major League Baseball and they both play in hideous domed stadiums. Both are known for having great strip clubs, but only in Japan can you get a girl dressed up like your favorite anime character. Advantage: Japan. Sayonara, Barry.

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