Barry Bonds, home run king who has never tested positive for steroids but has been labeled a cheater—that sounds weird, right?—has emerged from relative obscurity to say he will be happy for admitted cheater Alex Rodriguez when the New York Yankee passes his godfather, the great Willie Mays, in career home runs.
Why would Bonds, already alienated from Hall of Fame voters and many fans, choose A-Rod to support—and especially as it relates to passing a man he says he loves, no less?
The New York Yankees needs just five more home runs to tie Willie Mays, Bond’s godfather, on the Major League Baseball all-time home run list with 660.
Bonds told USA Today that he will celebrate Rodriguez when he sets the mark. Strange thing is, the Yankees will not celebrate or even acknowledge A-Rod’s feat.
Talk about bizarre.
Reports are that the Yankees would prefer Rodriguez reach the milestone while the team is on the road, where he has been greeted not so fondly after sitting out all of last season for steroid use.
And this bothers Bonds, who rarely speaks to the media, but felt compelled to discuss with USA Today the Yankee-Rodriguez strange marriage.
“My godfather means the world to me. I love him to a T,” Bonds told USA Today Sports in an hour-long telephone interview, “but when Alex hits No. 660, I’ll be happy for him. Willie will be happy for him. Everybody should be happy for him.
“Any time anybody in the game does something that’s a great accomplishment, the game of baseball should celebrate that.
“No matter what. Baseball is benefiting from that person’s hard work, so baseball should at least celebrate.”
The Yankees do not think so. In fact, the storied franchise insists it’s not a milestone, saying any historic home run is tainted. Not only that, the team said it told A-Rod it would not pay the $6 million bonus he is due for tying Mays, per his 2007 contract. The Yankees believe his year-long suspension wipes out any milestones. So, since the Yankees don’t declare it a milestone, they can’t market it. An independent arbitrator likely will make a ruling this summer, the newspaper said.
So, it comes down to this amazingly bizarre scenario: The team Rodriguez plays for is not even wishing him the best as a player. Bond, who surely has his agenda in this scenario, is right.
“Why the hate?” Bonds said to USA Today Sports. “Why hate on something you’re paying to see? I don’t understand it. He’s entertaining us.
“I wish life wasn’t like that.”
If life were not like that, Bonds and his 762 home runs, more than anyone in history, would be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But while Bonds never tested positive for steroid use, he has been implicated by countless people in that sordid underworld. And his dramatic body change and power production are taken as proof of something afoul.
As for Rodriguez, he used PEDs and twice lied about it, making him persona non grata. He was really sullied when he lied and vehemently challenged baseball about his involvement with Biogenesis, the lab that cooked up various types of drugs deemed illegal by baseball.
For Bonds, that does not matter. Bonds was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for his grand jury testimony in the infamous BALCO trial. He was convicted of obstruction of justice, but that could be overturned on appeal.
He could be talking about himself when he says people should not judge A-Rod:
“This guy is not running for president of the United States,” Bonds said. “He’s not running for commissioner. We’re not running for political office. We’re just ballplayers.
“We’re not God. We’re imperfect people. We’re human beings. What part of 600 home runs don’t people understand?” Bonds said. “You don’t need to understand that. Just look at the numbers.
“I told Alex, ‘You don’t need to prove anything to anybody. What do you need to prove? That you can hit another home run? That you can play baseball?’ Why the hell does anyone need to ask him that? He already proved it. The proof is over.
“If you want to prove something, prove how much you love playing baseball. Show them how much you enjoy playing the game. Enjoy the things that you love.
“If you do that, who gives a damn what they say about you?”
Bonds apparently cares a lot, and the underlying reality about his position on Rodriguez is that he wants people to like him, too. It’s lonely as the disgraced man out.