He’s a selfish, vile, tempermental, churlish asshole. He’s fucked around on his wife in her face, started fights with his teammates in the dugout, dodged his taxes, probably pumped more gorilla testosterone into his system than Mark McGwire, and vainly tries to use his vastly inferior intellect to try and belittle people left and right. He’s been told he’s special from the time he was in the cradle and was raised by his alcoholic failure of a father to be a snotty pain in the ass who cares about no one but himself. He ignores childhood friends, has pissed off just about anyone who has ever been associated with him, and expects unswerving loyalty no matter how shitty he treats a “friend.” As a teammate, he’s abusive, vain, full of himself, completely unable to swallow his pride, and the absolute center of the universe in the locker room.
He’s also my personal hero.
Not because he’s an asshole, mind you. Most professional athletes are raging pricks no matter what their public persona is. It’s not because he puts up the numbers he does. They are outstanding and admirable, but they really only tell part of the story. I love Barry Lamar Bonds because he is baseball’s worst nightmare come to life and the perfect synthesis of what the game is about today: narcisism, selfishness, blatant denial, finger-pointing, hypocrisy, greed and pompous self-congratulation.
Considering the culture we live in, one that embraces flaming assholes for their empty athletic achievements, it’s only fitting we have Bonds on the cusp of breaking the most hallowed record in the history of the game — one that is held by one of its greatest ambassadors and historical figures. Whereas baseball never deserved someone with the quiet dignity and professionalism of Henry Aaron, baseball deserves in spades everything that is Barry Bonds.
Without a doubt, Bonds is on the short list of the greatest baseball players who ever lived. Showing a rare combination of speed, power, fielding ability, base running and hitting for average, Bonds has been a prototypical baseball player in one form another since he came up with the Pirates in 1986. Whether it was as a young, lithe outfielder with a lightning-quick doubles stroke to the gaps who played sterling defense, or a steroid-fueled mongoloid who hit 500-foot home runs, Bonds has always been a reflection of the game in all of its incarnations over the last 20-plus years.
I don’t root for Barry Bonds because I like him; I root for him because I admire him. While mouth breathers like Rafael Palmeiro wave a finger in the face of Congress while his urine samples are coming up positive, Barry shrugs in front of a grand jury and says, “Hey, I thought it was flaxseed oil,” before going home to rub some more of “The Cream” on his aching knees. While Mark McGwire smartly avoids addressing the topic, Bonds, by his mere presence, reminds everyone every day about baseball’s involvement in steroids. Who and what he is prominently on display with his larger-than-life bald pate and outsized physique. When fans throw syringes on the field, he calmly walks over, picks them up and tosses them into foul territory before he goes back to the batter’s box to whack another tape measure home run. While Bud Selig sits in his office rubbing his face and dreading the impending doom of 756, Bonds slowly saunters out for batting practice to hit alone in silence. While he is trailed by a phalanx of cameramen and reporters who openly loathe him and write hate-filled rants about how he has ruined the great game, Bonds shrugs it off and lounges in his recliner in the clubhouse taking a nap.
Not that Bonds does not deserve the treatment he’s getting — he’s a prick. But save for a brief moment in 2005 when he was hobbled by multiple knee surgeries and admitted that he felt beat up, Bonds has defiantly spat in everyone’s eye. If nothing else, I admire and respect the prick for his consistency. He’s not cuddly, he’s not friendly, and he sure as shit ain’t gonna be doing instructional videos for kids. Rather, he does one thing in life very well — he hits a baseball better than anyone else in history, save for maybe five to 10 men.
However, all that aside, the reality is that we are not talking about a personal acquaintance or friend; we’re talking about a ballplayer. He is someone we watch from afar, an entertainer we pay to see hit prodigious home runs and do one of the most difficult things in all of sport: hitting a small round object with a thin, round bat. And in the game’s history, few have done that better than Barry Bonds.
He’s an abominable bore in conversation, absolutely virulent to members of the press and dismissive to anyone who dares to engage him in conversation. Like a throwback to 17th century European royalty, Bonds carries himself with a majesterial presence that is as cocky, arrogant and empty as a retarded, inbred prince who thinks he’s better than everyone else simply because of who his father is. However, in a game that ruthlessly punishes those with subpar skills, Bonds backs up his pompous act with unreal numbers that are splattered across the record books whether you like it or not. When Bonds behaves as if he’s the best player in the game, he backs it up and lets you know it every fucking time he steps into the batter’s box.
Remember, in the ’90s, when home runs were being hit at a record pace, baseball did not even breathe the word “steroids”; instead, they began spouting horse shit about the ball being juiced. In prominent displays of cynisism and fallacy, the commissioner’s office had scientists cut baseballs open to determine whether or not they were wound too tight. No matter that Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Brady Anderson and the like were hitting home runs at a record clip while looking drastically larger than they had in previous years.
But now, with the cat out of the bag, everyone is praying that the feds bring an indictment on Bonds before he can break Aaron’s record, thus saving baseball’s, and Bud Selig’s, collective asses. Well, sit back, eat a dick and enjoy the show, folks. Barry’s going to break that record, and if he flips the bird while he rounds second base, I for one will be standing and applauding. Because for a very brief moment in time, Barry Bonds will be the most honest and real person in the world.