Colin Dunlap: What About Bonds?
Let’s see if we can resolve this.
It’s time. Let bygones be bygones and all that stuff.
Such is the curious case between the Pirates and the enigmatic Barry Bonds, who played for the club from 1986-92 and blasted 176 home runs in that time, stole 251 bases and won the National League Most Valuable Player in 1990 and 92.
Bonds was, indisputably, a central figure for a club that posted 289 wins from 1990-92 and lost in the NLCS each time.
Some want to remember him for his playoff failures.
Some want to remember him for his poor attitude.
Some want to remember him for his link to performance enhancing drugs after he left the organization and went on to hammer a million home runs on the West Coast.
Me? I just wish the Pirates would remember him.
Let bygones be bygones and all that stuff.
As this organization has undergone resurgence within itself and a reconnection with a city by virtue of on-field success, there’s no question the Pirates brand is as strong as it has been in quite some time. It is, to me at least, also high time for people to understand the deep history this organization has.
We understand it with Stargell and Maz, with Clemente and Wagner, with Kiner and Traynor — but it seems as if Barry Bonds’ existence with the Pirates lives in a sort of purgatory to many.
Outside of a video tribute to the slugger during his final trip to PNC Park with the San Francisco Giants in 2007, it just feels like not enough effort has been made — perhaps by both sides —- to remember what Barry Bonds meant to the Pirates and, well, vice versa.
And with the recent news that Bonds will serve as a Spring Training instructor with the Giants, it appears the much-maligned star wants to get back into good graces in the baseball community. Certainly, Bonds has maintained a much better relationship with the Giants throughout the time since his retirement, but couldn’t it be time for the Pirates to float that olive branch out there?
You know, let bygones be bygones and all that stuff.
See, I was born the last few weeks of 1976.
I’m 37 now.
I’m a Pittsburgher, always have been.
Do the math — when Barry Bonds was playing in this town, I was pretty damn impressionable; certainly prime age to live on every single pitch that was thrown in those summers in the early-1990s.
I still know the roster up and down, can recite it without pause. From LaValliere to Lind, to Alex Cole to Roger Mason and from Danny Cox to Dennis Lamp, John Wehner, Jay Bell, Andy Van Slyke and Bob Patterson — these were my Pirates.
This was my team; this is what I grew up on.
And there was Barry Bonds.
Bonds could pout like a 4-year-old, but he could also drive that baseball from gap-to-gap like no one else at that time.
Bonds could be a temperamental jerk, but he could gallop like a gazelle and turn a would-be double into an out as he drifted so effortlessly into that darkened left-field corner at Three Rivers to pull it in.
For all the horror stories about the person, for all the times you heard about Barry the Baby, the magical act he could have you witness on that plot of turf before the gritty North Side became the trendy North Shore was something to truly behold.
In short, Barry might have been our city’s best. Ever.
Bonds was a jerk at times, sure.
But he was our Andrew McCutchen — and he could hit it farther and steal bases better.
And while Bonds might have been a moping, sulking whiner, he was our moping sulking whiner — and a bona fide superstar. The likes of which this city has rarely seen on a baseball diamond.
Isn’t it time where we go to a game and, perhaps, see a Barry Bonds Night?
I mean, this is an organization that hasn’t exactly cornered the market on honoring only nobility.
Case in point: Billy Meyer’s number is retired by the Pirates.
No disrespect to the late Billy Meyer or his family, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, but Billy Meyer was a bum in a baseball sense.
A total bum.
You know what Billy Meyer did as a baseball man?
Neither did I, so I had to look it up.
Meyer, as a player with the White Sox and Athletics for parts of three seasons, hit .236 with one home run and 21 RBIs.
As a manager with the Pirates from 1948-52, Meyer compiled a 317-452 record.
He had a .412 winning percentage.
He had one winning season.
He went 42-112 in 1952 before he was fired.
Apparently that was all good enough to get his number retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Look, I’m not asking that Bonds get his number retired. But if I sit in the press box — and you sit in the stands — and we have to look at some schlep like Billy Meyer have his number retired, doesn’t Barry Bonds deserve to at least throw out the first pitch?
Doesn’t Barry deserve a bobblehead giveaway, a recognition night or a throwback jersey day?
I think so. It’s time. Let bygones be bygones and all that stuff.
All the Pirates can do is ask him. In fairness, if he refuses, then that is on him. And, if indeed the Pirates ask him and Bonds refuses, the organization should be very public about it, let us all know Barry wasn’t interested in coming back to be honored.
If that’s the case, if he were to want nothing to do with such a display, that’s on him — and he’d be a jerk for it.
Really, though, it’s time for Barry Bonds and the Pirates to fall back into good graces.
Let bygones be bygones and all that stuff.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.