See What Our Writers Think as They Duke It Out
Andrew Matheson

Another week, another chapter in “The Life of Barry Bonds: Will He or Won’t He?”

It’s always an exciting time.

When will Bonds break Hank Aaron’s record?

Will MLB Commissioner Bud Selig be present for the history-making event?

What about Hank Aaron, himself?

This week? Well, it’s all about that life or death, ever-important Home Run Derby.

So, will he or won’t he?

On Thursday, Bonds said he will not compete in this year’s Home Run Derby, slated for Monday in San Francisco.

Having the soon-to-be Home Run King not competing in this year’s Home Run Derby has come as a shock to most, and left many fans flat-out angry.

Now, if you voted for Bonds to be an All-Star strictly to see him in the Home Run Derby, I can see why you’d be angry.

But should this come as a shock? Has Bonds EVER been a beacon of fan appreciation?

Personally, I would have been floored if Bonds did compete in the Home Run Derby. As I stated in my previous column, it’d be a public relations nightmare had the alleged steroid-using Bonds competed in the Derby, and then proceeded to win the Derby.

I mean, the sports pundits are just itching for Bonds to break Aaron’s record, subsequently opening a vault of criticism on where he stands in baseball history, not to mention the vault that holds the steroids issue.

As we all know, Bonds sometimes dislikes the media (“hate” is such a strong word). So why then would a man who knows he’ll be grilled for hitting a ton of home runs once he passes Aaron, sign up to compete in an exhibition where the goal is to hit a ton of home runs?

I’m not saying I necessarily agree with what Bonds did, but I get where he’s coming from.

The Giants outfielder said, in some many words, that he’s too old to compete in the Derby. Well, yeah, he’s 42, and will be 43 on July 24 (that’s old for a baseball player, of course).

Bonds sat out the beginning of last season due to his legs, and this season, he often does not play in day games for the Giants when they follow night games.

While the Derby may seem like a laid back night at the ballpark, taking 50 to 100 cuts at a baseball, with full intention of hitting it out of the park, cannot only wreak havoc on your legs, but also wreak havoc with your swing.

Home Run Derby participants routinely come out in the second half of the season in a hitting slump. The one argument that I’ve heard against this is that, “Hey, Bonds does the same thing before every game during batting practice.”

Well, I guess it’s the same thing, along the lines that he stands in the batters box and is thrown slow-pitch meatballs for him to hit. Of course, the whole point of BP is to warm-up before the game and work on your mechanics.

Sit on a curveball. Work on hitting outside pitches. Hit opposite field.

The occasional home run will come, but that’s not the point of BP. In a Derby, where you swing with power and lift nearly 100 times, it can be very easy, coming out in the second half of the season, to fall into a rut at the plate.

And while the Giants may sit in last place in the NL West with a 36-47 record, 11.5 games out of first place, Bonds will most definitely be needed in the second half. If the Oakland Athletics have taught us anything in years past, it’s that you’re always in it until the end.

If you believe Bonds should headline the Derby simply because it’ll be in San Francisco, well, you have a point. But Bonds’ appreciation toward the fans has always been suspect. Why now, in what will most likely be his final season in the MLB, are we suddenly questioning the way Bonds treats his fans?

On Monday night, enjoy Ryan Howard, enjoy Prince Fielder, enjoy Miguel Cabrera and Justin Morneau. But if you’re a fan, saddened by the fact that you won’t get to watch Bonds hit another 15 to 20 home runs in a meaningless exhibition, just appreciate the 700+ he’s already hit, and those fresh, vacationed legs he’ll have to surpass Aaron.

Yet, another chapter.

Andrew Matheson is the sports editor for the Hollister Free Lance. Reach him at (831) 637-5566 ext. 334 or at [email protected]

By Josh Koehn

Barry Bonds had a chance to trade his perch for an olive branch and passed.

By skipping the Home Run Derby competition on Monday, Bonds effectively gave another one-finger salute to fans, denying what was going to be one of the few fun, memorable moments of a completely meaningless string of All-Star extravaganzas. (Except the All-Star game of course, which gives the winning team’s league home-field advantage in the World Series, regardless of record. GREAT IDEA BUD SELIG!)

Bonds has never shown much gratitude to the fans, especially Giants fans who have spent the better part of a decade defending him only because he plays for their team. It’s very likely that many of those same fans voted him in to the All-Star game just so they could watch him compete in the Home Run Derby. Rather than giving those people a chance to root for the hometown guy as he leisurely hits balls into the Bay, Bonds has decided to yawn, turn and fart in their general direction.

In the book Game of Shadows, Bonds supposedly started taking steroids because he was jealous of the attention being paid to Mark McGwire. Well, the juice brought him the attention he craved and then some. And now that he has a forum specifically designed for fans to cheer a home run hitting freak show, Bonds has better things to do. He has to be with rapper Jay-Z at a party they’re hosting together that night, according to a column by the San Jose Mercury News’ Ann Killion. Let’s hope those same tree-trunk legs can support him while he’s getting tipsy.

Bonds complains that his body just can’t handle a few hacks at pitches Little Leaguers could snare with their bare hands. “Especially when you’re 42,” he said. “It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s that you just can’t anymore. You can’t. It’s too long. Too much waiting. Too much sitting around. You can’t do that.”

The truth is that he can. It’s just he doesn’t want to do it because others want him to. He’d rather stick it to Selig and MLB out of spite. Meanwhile, the Giants’ fans, management and ownership are the ones who consistently see their goodwill never being reciprocated.

Some fans have asked, ‘Why doesn’t he just compete in the first round of the derby and then call it a day?’ Just showing up would be a symbol of gratitude. And taking a few swings amounts to something akin to batting practice, an activity he has taken part in, in just about every day of his baseball career.

The reason is because Barry has, and always will, care about himself over the game and others.

How else can you explain why a guaranteed Hall of Famer would need to do steroids late in his career? If you buy that he unknowingly took steroids I’ll sell you the ocean.

How else can you explain why he would cheat on his wife?

And how else could you explain a surge of fan votes to put Bonds into the game during the 11th hour of the All-Star selection process (he was trailing Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano by 119,000 votes in the final days), and in return all he will give them is three measly innings and one, maybe two at-bats?

The Giants are done. The season is a wash, and most Giants fans knew that before it even started. Ownership and management traded this year as well as the future for what will amount to a twenty-second clip on the scoreboard showing the number 756, Bonds rounding the bases and fans going bananas. Years and millions of dollars were invested for a highlight reel, a YouTube clip.

While the Home Run Derby isn’t important, it would have shown Barry Bonds can give a little back to the game and fans. Instead, the greatest player of our era remains on his perch while we all look down on him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Josh Koehn is the sports editor for the Gilroy Dispatch. Reach him at

(408) 842-1694or at jkoehn@

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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