Pirates

Colin Dunlap: Pirates And Bonds Did The Right Thing

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(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

dunlap-head-shot Colin Dunlap
Weeknights, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Colin grew up in Sharpsburg and...
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The Pirates did the right thing.

Barry Bonds did the right thing.

Now, Monday, the city will experience a great thing.

Bonds, who played for the club from 1986-92, hit 176 home runs in that time and won the National League Most Valuable Player in 1990 and 92 will be part of a parade of former Pirates in a pregame ceremony as part of Opening Day.

Former manager Jim Leyland will take part. So, too, will former shortstop Jack Wilson. Dave Parker, the dynamic former Pirates outfielder, will be unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

But let’s be honest – Bonds is the story.

Bonds is always the story.

All these years after he left our city, Bonds remains the story, even as he will be on hand — along with Dick Groat — to present Andrew McCutchen with the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player award.

Bonds is remembered by some for crushing the baseball; he’s remembered by others for a perceived (or real) laziness.

Bonds is remembered by some for the incredible regular-season numbers he put up here; he’s remembered by others for what he didn’t do in the playoffs.

Bonds is remembered by some for being an off-the-charts-talent; he’s remembered by others for being a cheat.

Bonds is remembered by some for that ear-to-ear smile in the infancy of his career; he’s remembered by others for being a condescending, haughty jerk.

On Monday during Opening Day, we won’t have to remember Barry Bonds anymore, however. We won’t have to think about what it will be like to see him here in Pittsburgh. Because, well, Bonds will be there, right down on that PNC Park grass on what is forecasted to be a glorious day.

Good for the Pirates and Bonds for making this work.

Good for the Pirates and Bonds for putting petty differences aside and allowing what has turned back into a baseball town to see one of their superstars in their baseball cathedral.

Outside of a video tribute on the big board in 2007 on his final trip into Pittsburgh with the Giants, this is an organization that has shied away, largely, of all things Bonds. To some degree, that was understandable.

Did time heal this wound?

Was there an intermediary we don’t know about?

Did public sentiment of some wanting Bonds back tip the Pirates’ feeling?

Was there something else?

Who knows?

And, really, at this point, who cares?

All I know — and a generation just like me knows — is that our superstar will stand in our city once again, stand in that place where he wowed us when we were youths and emulated his on-field play.

There is a modicum of risk with Bonds’ return — one that even his staunchest supporters understand. Certainly, some will cheer and some will boo him on Monday, but the risk is taking the moment away from McCutchen, the man for whom this moment truly is for.

On Friday afternoon, shortly after the announcement was made that Bonds would be among the contingent present for the on-field ceremony, Pirates president Frank Coonelly joined The Starkey & Mueller Show on 93-7 The Fan.

The main point that should be extracted from Connelly’s appearance is the lengths he went to make sure this day, this Opening Day, will be a celebration of Andrew McCutchen’s 2013 accomplishments and an MVP award realized because of them.

Coonelly outlined how in Bradenton recently, he approached McCutchen with the notion that an on-field ceremony involving Bonds was being planned out, but would be nixed if McCutchen objected.
W
ithout hesitation, McCutchen was fine with the idea.

I know Frank Coonelly.

And if I know Frank Coonelly at all, I know this — he is fiercely, sternly and unwaveringly loyal.

By extension I can firmly deduce this: Had Andrew McCutchen even slightly hesitated about the idea of any of these men being on the field in a ceremony — particularly Bonds — Coonelly would have crushed the idea on the spot; it never would have wafted an inch farther.

In short, you don’t have to love or hate Barry Bonds, do as you wish in that regard. But the feeling here is that if Andrew McCutchen is OK with his appearance, we as fans should be OK with it.

A couple things are certain: It has been a long time coming and I’m glad the Pirates and Bonds finally — if even for a day — put their differences aside.

As if Opening Day wasn’t already going to be exciting enough.

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 colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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