Barry Bonds doubled yesterday and got a nice hand from the crowd at AT&T park in San Francisco.
That very well could have been his last at bat in a Giants uniform... maybe his last game at all.
And while the standing o was nice, isn't it odd that more wasn't made of it.
Oh I know... BALCO. And steroids. And all these horrible things that he probably did.
And oh yeah, he was a bad guy.
And was greedy, leaving the Pirates for the biggest contract (at the time) in baseball history.
"He is a disgrace to baseball" I hear people say. "Good riddance" I even hear some Giants fans say.
Good riddance? Imagine what would have happened to the Giants had he not arrived.
Lest we forget, in 1992 the Giants were an aging and irrelevant team not only in baseball but in the Bay Area. The 49ers were still a force and the A's still good.
The Giants were playing in windy, ugly, hard to get to, impossible to sit in Candlestick Park (or 3 Com, or Monster or whatever they were calling it.)
The Giants wanted to build a downtown ballpark and with the team in 1989 World Series, it seemed like it was going to be built... until the quake hit before Game 3 of the series and spending money on a ballpark seemed unseemly.
How quickly people forget that the Giants were so close to moving from San Francisco to Tampa Bay that people were printing out "Tampa Bay Giants" shirts and having "Welcome the Giants" rallys in St. Pete.
(Isn't it funny how Tampa Bay always was the bargaining chip teams used for a new ballpark? Give us what we want or we'll move to Tampa! And now we know Tampa has the worst stadium and is the worst baseball market in the country... how lucky for the Giants, White Sox, Rangers, Expos and Twins that they didn't follow through on their threats!)
New ownership came to the Giants and they brought in Bonds... then lean, quick and an all around player.
The Giants instantly became relevant again, winning 103 games, missing the playoffs by a game to the Braves. Why the ATLANTA Braves played in the WEST will always be a mystery to me. This geographical anomaly was corrected a year too late when the divisions realigned in 1994.
But Barry had arrived, along with his homers, his swagger, his "I don't care what you think about me" attitude and the Giants were THE team in the Bay Area.
The Giants were in the playoffs in 1997, forced a one game playoff in 1998, made the playoffs in 2000, missed by 2 games in 2001, won the NL pennant in 2002, won the NL West in 2003 and contended until the last weekend in 2004.
And with Barry leading the way, the Giants built a new stadium, with private money off China Basin in San Francisco.
Bonds is responsible for keeping the Giants in San Francisco and more than a decade of excitement when they could have easily become the Royals of the National League.
"Yeah, but what about the steroids?"
Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield keep getting standing ovations in New York... and believe me, if Rafael Palmeiro would be too if his production hadn't dropped off.
We'll never know who was using what during this era, and we'll never know how many of the pitches Bonds deposited into the Bay were from juiced pitchers.
And look carefully at the teams that won during the "Steroid Era." Look to see how many of them had players whose offensive statistics spiked dramatically between 1995 and 2002. Should some of those teams return their titles?
I want Giambi's two home runs off of Pedro Martinez in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS back.
"What about how he destroyed the integrity of baseball?"
First of all, there will always be conflicts in the integrity of baseball... Lest we forget segregation, which in a way should put a giant asterix next to any record set before 1947.
Or what games, besides the 1919 World Series, were compromised because of gambling?
Or what teams could have been contenders if not for collusion in the 1980s?
Or which Cincinnati teams could have made the playoffs if Pete Rose weren't betting between 1985 and 1989?
Bonds is a product of the era, not the cause.
"Yeah, but he seems like a jerk!"
When will any of us hang out with ball players? Seriously, who cares if he has a Barka lounger in his locker room?
Besides, if Bonds has a mistress for a long time, then he is a horrible person. But Kirby Puckett, whose wife needed to call the police, was a heartwarming ambassador to the game.
We NEED jerks in baseball to celebrate and root for or against. Whether it is a cocky Larry Bird, a flamboyant Reggie Jackson or an out of his mind Terrell Owens.
"He is a disgrace."
A biggest disgrace than the Tampa Bay Giants?
Keep in mind, Detroit has a statue of Ty Cobb in front of their new ballpark. If there is a bigger disgrace in baseball history, then I haven't heard of him
He saved a franchise and built a stadium. He made a team relevant again.
Whether he was a jerk or a cheat, he deserves a little recognition for that.
I am reminded of the scene in The Godfather Part II when Hyman Roth tells Michael about Moe Greene and how he built Las Vegas.
"And there is not even a statue or a plaque that bears his name there."
McCovey Cove? Hell Wille never played there. That's Barry's Bay!
I'll applaud him, even if it isn't the popular thing to do.
In my last entry I wrote about how I wanted a collapse in St. Louis because everyone enjoys a nice All American slip on the banana peel.
But I'm a greedy man. I want more than a collapse. I want 100% utter anarchy! I'm talking the kind that throws well laid plans into the toilet and have the powers that be in baseball sweating trying to figure out how to make it all work.
I want something that we've never seen before.
Like the Yankees blowing the 3-0 lead. Or the Kirk Gibson home run. Or the last episode of Newhart when the whole show turned out to be a dream.
Something cool like that.
And it can... provided the following happens:
The Cardinals lose 2 in a row (very possible.) The Astros split their last 2 games (statistically probable) The Reds win their last 2 games.
All within the realm of possibility.
And if it happens, all hell will break loose.
Try to follow:
The Cardinals will have to play a game AFTER the last day of the season against the Giants. This would be the day that normally tie breaking playoff games would take place and the true playoffs begin the next day.
If the Cardinals should win that... ohhh boy. The start of the playoffs would already be pushed back one day. And there would be a three way tie for first place: Reds, Astros and Cardinals all at 82-80.
And somehow Bud Selig, a man who couldn't figure out how to untie an All Star game, would have to come up with a round robin tournament to determine who gets in.
St. Louis could play 4 different teams in 4 days if it plays out. It would be one game elimination baseball a la the NCAA Tourney.
It would be f-ing anarchy as a third playoff team (either the Mets, Dodgers or Padres) will get 2 more days to rest their staff.
And you'd get big stars on each of the teams (Pujols, Clemens, Griffey) all with a chance to push their teams into the playoffs (and an inevitable first round sweep.)
I really want the St. Louis Cardinals to collapse. I am getting nothing but joy out of this freefall and each day I check the scoreboard hoping to see LaRussa and company slip on a gigantic banana peel.
And I have nothing against the people of St. Louis, who seem to be great baseball fans, nor do I really care about the Astros or ANY team in the National League Central.
I just love watching a team collapse. And here's a dirty little secret. EVERYONE loves watching a team collapse, except when it is your own.
I'm not talking about blowing a single game... I'm talking about losing a bunch in a row and seeing a team panic and nothing, I mean NOTHING working right and a sense of impending doom engulfing a ballclub.
It's awesome to watch. When a team falls behind 1-0 and it seems like 10-0 and everyone hangs their heads in utter disbelief... it is one of the great unspoken guilty pleasures in sports.
It stimulates that same shameful part of the brain that makes us enjoy disaster films, or why they show the faces of the 4 other actors when they lose the Academy Award. We all love seeing the once confident and strong fall on their face... and flail about like a spider in the toilet about to be flushed.
The Cardinals are doing it in a spectacular manner. They dropped 8 games in the standings in 9 days for Christsake! And they've done it losing close, losing big and letting up a run the other day because the pitcher took his time covering first base.
And today the Cardinals could lose the lead all together and their hopes rest on the shoulders of Jeff Weaver, who has the emotional strength of Christopher Walken at the end of The Deer Hunter.
What makes this even more memorable was that a week or so ago, this wasn't even a race people were looking up. The Cardinals were a foregone conclusion to not only make the playoffs but host the first round. The argument FOR Pujols in the MVP race was "Well, his team is going to the playoffs." The Astros were making tee-time arrangements and going through the motions of the end of the season... now they are thinking "Holy Crap! We may win this thing!"
People remember flops like the 1964 Phillies and the 1978 Red Sox more than they remember the teams that actually won.
As a Red Sox fan, I've witnessed my fair share of collapses. Of course everyone remembers 1986 and 2003 (which was actually just one blown game and not a sustained over a long period flop). But the Red Sox have been on the positive side of several collapses as well.
Down 3-1 to the Angels and one strike from losing in 1986... and the Angels melt down. Down 2-0 to Cleveland with Pedro and Nomar hurt in 1999... only to come back and win 3-2. Down 2-0 to Oakland in 2003, the Sox win in extra innings (on my wedding day) as the A's screw up the run from third to home twins, blow a late game 4 win and leave the bases loaded in the 9th for the clincher.
And I seem to remember the Red Sox trailing 0-3 in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees with Rivera on the mound in the 9th.
But this is different. This is being emotionally detached and just enjoying watching a team flop. This is being a sick bastard experiencing Schadenfreude and wanting to see a team blow it big time.
It's like watching a fish flop and gasp for air on the dock.
And whether you admit it or not, it is fascinating to watch
The Red Sox and Yankees are playing a 4 game series in mid September in Yankee Stadium and there is no buzz about it. It's a "who cares" series between one team that is gearing up for the playoffs and a Red Sox team that have phoned it in to the point where they've used up all their minutes.
Who could have predicted in August, when only a game separated the Yankees and Red Sox, that when the Sawx stormed into the Bronx in September, Boston fans across the country would say "Is anything else on?"
And that's brings up a good question: Why should anyone be excited about this Red Sox/Yankees series, other than the possibility of another A Rod and Varitek fight?
While I should be spending this time with my wife and kids being a good father and husband instead of watching the Red Sox free fall on TV... I have found several compelling reasons to tune in:
1. KEVIN YOUKILIS MIGHT BE ATTACKED BY A WEREWOLF. After a month of injuries, heart palpitations and lymphoma, why should ANYONE be shocked at the prospect of a werewolf attack? Granted the moon hasn't been full since September 7th, but it's been that kind of year for the Red Sox.
2. ALEX RODRIGUEZ WILL PROBABLY HIT FOR THE CYCLE IN EVERY SINGLE GAME. Remember, it IS a meaningless series.
3. DAVID ORTIZ WILL HOMER 3 TIMES FOR HIS YANKEES AUDITION. If you think Steinbrenner won't eventually sign Big Papi, then you are more of an Idiot than Johnny Damon ever was!
4. BIG UNIT WILL WIN HIS 18th GAME... And probably give up 7 runs in 5 1/3 innings to "earn it" against Kyle Snyder (who will probably let up 14 runs in 1/3 of an inning). Randy Johnson could potentially win 20 games with an ERA over 5.00. I'm sure he'll be fine in the playoffs.
5. DEREK JETER MIGHT GET 50 HITS IN A 4 GAME SERIES. Not mathematically possible you say? He'll find a way, if for no other reason than to show Ortiz (his future teammate) who the MVP really is. Besides, the guy needs even MORE ammo to attact women.
6. MANNY RAMIREZ MIGHT SHOW UP TO YANKEE STADIUM IN HIS BATHROBE. Would that shock anyone?
7. KASON GABBARD CONTINUES TO BE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL PITCHER IN BASEBALL HISTORY NAMED KASON. You could look it up.
8. ANNOUNCERS WON'T BE ABLE TO BRING UP THE WORDS "CURSE" OR "BAMBINO." Maybe they'll have to actually give credit to the Yankees for being better rather than relying on ghosts and curses. But I bet Fox won't be able to resist showing the "Bucky Dent" or “Aaron Boone” clip. (Hopefully they’ll counter by also showing Dave Roberts, the A Rod slap and the greatest collapse in post season history... but probably not.)
9. THE YANKEES COULD WIN 3 OUT OF 4 AND CLINCH THE DIVISION. Which would be a humane execution for the Red Sox this year.
10. THE RED SOX COULD WIN 4 OUT OF 4 AND BEGIN THE BIGGEST COMEBACK IN BASEBALL HISTORY. Besides, if the Yankees play one game under .500 for the rest of the season, all the Red Sox have to do is go 19-3 to force a one game playoff!
Hey, stranger things have happened! But I think the safe money is on the werewolf
Let's talk good trades! The Red Sox have had a few and here are my top 10 of the modern Red Sox
There are a few great deals in the past, especially acquiring Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove in their primes, but let's focus on the Red Sox since 1970, shall we?
Obviously this list of trades will favor the 2004 Champs, because any moves that procured what we were all waiting for deserves special attention, but there are some other ones too.
Counting down from 10
10. Trading minor leaguer Henri Stanley to the Dodgers for Dave Roberts
A minor league outfielder who still has never seen the show is a small price to pay for the most famous pinch runner in baseball history.
This trade barely made a blip when it happened.
Now Dave Roberts is mentioned in the same breath as Paul Revere and John Hancock as Boston heroes.
9. Trading Calvin Schraldi and Al Nipper to the Cubs for Lee Smith
Let's see... the 1987 Red Sox bullpen was a joke, so let's take Schraldi who was one bad outing from getting shock treatment and Al Nipper who I am guessing is a hell of a nice guy but no starting pitcher and send them off to Chicago for the best reliever in the National League.
A division title.
8. Trading Rick Wise, Mike Paxton, Ted Cox and Bo Diaz to the Indians for Dennis Eckersley and Fred Kendall
Wise was broken down and while Diaz became an All Star catcher, the Eck became a 20 game winner and the lone highlight for the Red Sox rotation for 4 years.
If only we thought of converting him to the bullpen!
7. Trading Don Aase to the Angels for Jerry Remy Aase was a quality youg arm and actually saved 34 games for Baltimore in 1986... but the deal brought Rem Dog to Boston where he belongs!
6. Trading Mike Easler to the Yankees for Don Baylor
There was a time when the Yankees and Red Sox made the occasional trade.
This one looked simple enough: swap quality DHs. Easler was left handed and would fit well in the Bronx while Baylor's right handed stick would fit in Fenway.
Baylor's power fit right into the line up (and made up for the injured Tony Armas) but it was his prescience in the lax John McNamara "led" clubhouse that fired up a dull team and brought them to within a pitch of the title.
5. Trading Rey Quinones, Mike Brown, John Christensen and Mike Trujillo to the Mariners for Dave Henderson and Spike Owen
Quinones couldn't cut it as the starting shortstop, so the Sox picked up Clemens and Schraldi's old college teammate Owen who did a nice job. But Henderson, who was brought over for his glove to help Armas, gave us one of the most dramatic homers in baseball history over the Angels and would have been the hero of the World Series if that third out was ever made. Always remember, pick up backup outfielders named DAVE!
4. 4 team trade sending Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs and receiving Orlando Cabrera from the Expos and Doug Mientkiewicz from the Twins
Possibly the ballsiest trade in baseball history.
Theo put emotions aside, shored up the defense, loosened up the clubhouse and let Lowe feel comfortable getting ground ball outs.
The 2004 Red Sox miss the playoffs all together if this trade wasn't made.
3. Trading Heathcliff Slocumb to the Mariners for minor leaguers Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe
Dealing an inconsistent reliever and getting a team captain and the heart and soul of the eventual World Championship team? Not a bad move? Throw in a guy who nearly won a Cy Young award, came out of the pen to close out the A's in 2003 and won the clinching game of the Division Series, ALCS and World Series in 2004 and we are talking about a trade that GMs lose their jobs over.
2. Trading Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, Jorge De La Rosa and Michael Goss to the Diamondbacks for Curt Schilling
The Thanksgiving dinner heard round the world!
The Red Sox weren't going to win anything without a pair of aces, and if that meant pretending Shonda's stuffing was good, then so be it!
1. Trading Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr to the Expos for Pedro Martinez
Two pretty good pitching prospects in exchange for a Cy Young winner? A good deal then, but who could have predicted the magical 7 year Red Sox run with Pedro on the hill? Was there a more fun, electric and thrilling sight to see than Pedro dominating a game. He single handedly won playoff births in 1998 and 1999 and finished in the top 4 of the Cy Young in 6 of the 7 years with Boston. His 6 innings of no hit relief in 1999 and his game 3 vs St Louis were two of the great moments in Red Sox history. Thus this is the best trade the Sox EVER made
Bad trades? Oh the Red Sox have made a few... a few that rewrote the history of baseball.
And I could fill up five notebooks dissecting the trades that DIDN'T cause a curse but that involved the Red Sox and Yankees in the early 1920s... but let's keep this to modern day, shall we?
It's too early to tell where Bronson Arroyo for Willy Mo Pena will end up. And some trades have their ups and downs.
People criticize Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker... but Boddicker helped the Red Sox to two division titles and the Schilling mistake was solved later.
And yeah, trading Reggie Smith looked dumb, but they got Rick Wise, who was solid and Bernie Carbo who had some heroics of his own.
And trading John Tudor was rough, but we got Mike Easler for him... and then dealt Easler for Don Bayor so it worked out eventually.
Here are the ten worst trades of the modern Red Sox era.
10. Trading Jim Lonborg, George Scott, Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro and prospects to the Brewers for Lew Krausse, Tommy Harper and prospects
Yeah Lonborg was hurt, but we revived his career with the Brewers and had 17 and 18 win seasons with Philadelphia. Scott won a home run title. Brett had some good years. Meanwhile Pattin had one decent season and then was done. Harper could steal bases but couldn't hit and Krausse was cut after one season.
9. Trading Dave Henderson to the Giants for Randy Kutcher
10 months after being the hero of all of Boston, Hendu was dumped to the Giants for a pinch running outfielder. He crossed the bay and became an All Star for Oakland, helping beat the Red Sox in the 1988 and 1990 playoffs.
8. Trading Jamie Moyer to the Mariners for Darren Bragg
I thought it was odd when the Red Sox dealt a pitcher who was 7-1 in a playoff push for a backup outfielder... who could have predicted though that Moyer, who was already a veteran, would pitch 11 plus seasons with Seattle including a pair of 20 win seasons?
7. Trading Bob Ojeda and prospects to the Mets for Calvin Schraldi, Wes Gardner and prospects
Let's see... we lost the World Series in 7 games. Ojeda won one game for the Mets... Schraldi lost games 6 and 7 for the Red Sox. I'd say that didn't work out for us! Gardner was supposed to the big piece of the trade, but he was a bust.
6. Trading Fred Lynn and Steve Renko for Frank Tanana, Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi
The Red Sox take a risk breaking up the best outfield in baseball (Rice-Lynn-Evans) to get some much needed pitching help and a new centerfielder. Tanana is a bust and bolts for Texas. Dorsey never makes it and Rudi is broken down. Meanwhile Lynn shines in the 1982 playoffs and 1983 All Star games and consistently hits 20 some odd homers back when that meant something.
5. Cecil Cooper to the Brewers for George Scott and Bernie Carbo
A trade that seemed to be made out of nostalgia (Boomer and Bernie are back!) But at the expense of a future 5 time All Star.
During Coopers run in Milwaukee, the Red Sox had Scott, Bob Watson, Tony Perez, Dave Stapelton and Bill Buckner at first. Coop could have provided some stability.
4. The Don Zimmer trades: Bill Lee to the Expos for Stan Papi Fergie Jenkins to the Rangers for Jon Poloni Jim Willoughby to the White Sox for cash Bernie Carbo to the Indians for cash
These are clumped together because Lee, Jenkins, Willoughby and Carbo all were the bane of that idiot Zimmer's existence. So he demanded they all be sent off, even if it were for nothing. So he depleted the bench (Carbo) and bullpen (Willoughby) and rotation (Jenkins) in 1978 inexchange for a grand total of ONE MINOR LEAGUER. Jenkins won 18 games that year. The Red Sox were sunk by Bucky Dent. One more win that year and there is no Bucky Fucking Dent game. He benched Lee during the seaon and send him to Montreal for Stan Papi. Lee won 17 games in 1979. Papi sat on the bench and was dumped the next year. A certain pennant and possible title in 1978 was lost... but THANK GOD Zimmer saved face.
3. Trading Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for Larry Andersen
We had the choice of keeping Scott Cooper or Jeff Bagwell to get a fresh arm for the 1990 pennant run. As the Grail Knight would say... we chose poooorly. Imagine Bagwell (A Boston native) hitting from the right side and Vaughn (a Connecticut native) hitting from the left side throughout the 1990s!
2. Trading Sparky Lyle to the Yankees for Danny Cater
Trading a future Cy Young winning closer for a weak hitting first baseman would be bad enough. The fact it involved the Yankees, who won a World Series title and a pennant with him as a closer (plus a second title in 1978 with him as a set up man) makes it even worse.
1. Selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees for cash.
Yeah, I know I was keeping this to modern times... but this trade transcends time and space. It was not only a bad trade baseball wise, it was bad metaphysically, it was bad socialogically, it was bad spiritually... it ruined a regions psyche for nearly a century! It perpetuated a midboggling inferiority complex with New York, put ungodly pressure on players over 3 generations and caused grown men to dive for Pianos, hire Shamen and burn hats on Mount Everest. It was the trade that defined the Red Sox AND the Yankees (lest we forget with out Ruth, there was no house that Ruth built.) Ruth hasn't played a game since 1935, yet he is STILL one of the most recognized ball players in the world! If you are the best at something you are the BABE RUTH of that thing. Well, this was the Babe Ruth of bad trades.
On the plus side, without that trade, I don't appear in two, count em, TWO HBO specials. So there is always a sunny side to the street
I hope this is the first of many “Meeting Hall of Famers” entries in sullybaseball.com.
In 2002, my friend Steve Rosenthal was covering the opening of the Baseball As America traveling Hall of Fame exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York. He brought me along on the pretense of being his photographer, but really so I could meet the Hall of Famers at the function.
There were many Hall of Famers at the opening including Stan Musial and Hank Aaron.
Now for those of you who don’t understand what this feels like, the best way I can describe it is imagine going to Disneyland... and when you see Mickey, Donald and Sebastian the Crab, it’s not an actor in a costume... it is the REAL Mickey, Donald and Sebastian the Crab!
People were mobbing Musial, Aaron and newly elected Dave Winfield. But I would be standing and look to my right and there’s Juan Marichal... just standing there... nobody to talk to. So I chatted with him.
Ozzie Smith seemed like he was running for office, shaking everyone’s hand and sounding thrilled no matter how sketchy your media credentials were.
Tony Perez was the only member of the Red Sox from my youth who was there, although Sox fans mainly remember him for his Game 7 homer off of Bill Lee.
Phil Niekro looked more like a history teacher than a Hall of Famer. God I should have learned the knuckleball!
Nobody was cooler than Brooks Robinson (bottom row.) He was holding court, talking baseball with anyone who would listen. He watches the current game and loves Chipper Jones. He was talking my ear off to the point where I actually had to say “Um... Mr. Robinson... I got to go.” I didn’t mean to blow off the MVP of the 1970 World Series.
Some people I just didn’t have the nerve to ask for a picture. Bob Gibson was one. I came up to him as he was in conversation with fellow Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. I think all I got out of my mouth was “Mr. Gibson....” He glared at me as he was in midsentence and I tipped toed away, remembering he threw at the head of his best friend, Bill White.
I later introduced myself to Mr. Schoendienst. I told him I was a Red Sox fan and it was a pleasure meeting him, despite the fact that he beat the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series. He squinted and said “We beat you guys in 1946 too!”
Sparky Anderson was as energetic as the Tazmanian Devil. I introduced myself to him and told him he made me laugh when he guest starred on WKRP in Cincinnati. (He was hilarious in that cameo.) He started laughing and said “How in the Hell did you remember that?”
Mr. Anderson... you have no idea how much useless junk my memory is storing up!
I’ve resisted writing a blog for a while, but I’m giving in. I am prone to write super long baseball e mails with my thoughts, analysis and odd movie references to my friends who, for the past few years, have suggested “Just a write a damn Blog!”
So to appease my friends, empty their e mail boxes and hopefully to find a few new people to share my thoughts with, I offer you Sullybaseball.com.
I will warn you... I think in lists and I write in lists... and there will be baseball lists written on this site.
Also I’ve always had a fixation on baseball history. The photo above is of me, age 7. I have discovered the Baseball Encyclopedia in my grandfather’s library and I am reading it... cover to cover... memorizing the World Series results and players names.