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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 17, 2008 10:07 AM

Bonds to NY: good for game?

Posted by Geoff Baker

Baseball gets back underway today, not for the Mariners, but a few other teams. Thanks for your insights into the Jose Vidro discussions yesterday. As one of you wrote, you can agree to disagree with an organization's thinking, or the explanation of it, without degenerating into mudsligning and a self-righteous pounding of the chest. For the record, I agree with many of you. The short-term need for this franchise to win games should take a backseat to the need to get on with building the franchise for the future. It doesn't get entirely wiped from consideration. But nor should it be a 50-50 split.

Time for some decisions. Bryan LaHair continues to hit for power in Class AAA, his replacement-in-waiting is there in Craig Wilson, so why not call him up? Who goes? Heck, we've said for two months that Vidro should be released. If he can't play the field on a regular basis without wearing down, then he makes a logical choice to send packing.

Also, I'd like to see Wladimir Balentien come up and Raul Ibanez get moved to DH. You now have Jeremy Reed showing he can play multiple positions. Balentien doesn't have to be guaranteed a major league job. You can bring him up here, play him a bit and see if he can hit. If he slumps, you can sit him a couple of days, put Reed in left and Willie Bloomquist in center. I do think Balentien should be a left fielder and not a center fielder. I like what Reed has shown in center so far.

We should know more by this afternoon, when the team holds a Safeco Field workout. But I'd be shocked if no changes are made. Now is the natural time to do it. Doesn't change the explanation the past two days for why Jim Riggleman was doing what he's been doing. But his own words a few days ago in KC, that Vidro needed a rest, kind of spell things out. Vidro needs a rest because he can't play the field. This team needs a guy to play the field in Richie Sexson's place and it isn't Miguel Cairo.

Speaking of guys who need to play, there's an idea gaining momentum around baseball the past few days that the logical re-entry point into baseball for Barry Bonds would be with the New York Yankees.

Now, make no mistake. I've written here before and will continue to write that Bonds will be a huge distraction for any team, both from a clubhouse and media perspective. If you don't think he will be a clubhouse distraction, go read Jeff Pearlman's Love Me, Hate Me book which quotes past Bonds teammates about what he was like to have around. About what kind of teammate he was. If you still think it's a media myth after that, well, then we'll have to agree to disagree.

But as much as I think that Bonds has tarnished his legacy, and the game, and will get what's coming to him in a court of law, the perverse side of me thinks seeing him in New York could actually be good for baseball on several levels. Laugh all you want, but most of you hate the Yankees to begin with, right? I mean, those of you from outside New York.

About the only time I can remember anyone cheering for the Yankees, outside of New York, was while covering the 2001 World Series after the 9/11 terror attacks.

But even by the 2003 World Series, fans were getting sick of seeing that "Challenger'' eagle fly in during the national anthems, or of hearing Ronan Tynan sing "God Bless America'' in its extended version. The Yankees are the gold standard as a baseball franchise. But rooting against them has also become as much fun for fans of opposing teams as cheering on their own clubs.

Most of those clubs never make the playoffs. The Yankees always do. So, in some ways, rooting against them becomes the prime obsession.

What's the worst that could happen if Bonds goes to New York?

Well, the fans there could boo him. Wouldn't that be fun? I'd bet they would boo him.

But after a while, if he produced, the boos would likely turn to cheers. That city welcomed Jason Giambi back into the fold. And Giambi was a bonafide juicer. Now, it's like his grand jury testimony never happened.

Would George Steinbrenner and Hank Steinbrenner be hated even more? I don't know if that's possible.

On a moral scale, who would win out in a battle between Bonds and Alex Rodriguez? Right now, A-Rod is daily tabloid fodder for a rumored affair with Madonna and just got sued for divorce by his wife, who is alleging all kinds of infidelity. This is nothing new. Last year, the papers went wild over photos of A-Rod cavorting around Toronto with an exotic dancer.

So, how much lower can the Yankees possibly go with Bonds?

And then, there's the upside.

Imagine the television ratings that Fox could pull in by showcasing Bonds and the Yankees every week across the country? Yes, yes, the network just about does that already. But this time, everybody would be watching. It would be like the car wreck that keeps on happening.

Bad for the sport? Not this year. Bonds isn't going to jail until at least 2009, and maybe never if he's proven innocent of perjury charges.

If you want stuff that's bad for the sport's image, look no further than Roger Clemens.

Morality isn't exactly the thing to be looking for when it comes to professional sports. Just check out the NFL. Their ratings destroy MLB's.

What about the long-term impact? Well, even Bonds himself is not going to derail the image of a franchise that's won more titles than any other in North American pro sport. Those who love the Yankees will always love them for Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Derek Jeter. They will remember Bonds in the same context as they do Jose Canseco, another steroids-tainted guy once welcomed into the Yankee fold for a brief moment.

And the game itself? Little impact beyond a sideshow that should generate more interest than anything else the sport has going for it right now.

Yeah, a Rays-Cubs championship would be nice. But how about a Bonds-Cubs championship?

I covered the only World Series that Bonds has ever been involved in, that seven-gamer with Anaheim in 2002, and Bonds made that event (along with K-Rod). He was the story, the show.

No, the Mariners could not withstand the hit their reputation would have taken had they brought Bonds in. Especially this year, when his impact on this Titanic-like season would have been minimal. All of the blame for a problematic clubhouse, a losing culture and the failure of key players to produce anything close to what was expected of them would have fallen on his shoulders. And the team's architects would have all been ridiculed for even contemplating bringing Bonds in.

Yes, I know. They are being ridiculed as we speak. The difference is, blaming Bonds for everything would have masked this team's other issues. Like why its players failed to respond to the challenge of being expected to win something in 2008.

The M's do not have the history of excellence the Yankees do. Bonds is but a tiny blip on the Yankee legacy. In Seattle, he might have come to define everything that hasn't worked out for this franchise over the past 30 years.

So, like I said, the perverse side of me, the one that likes to see the status quo shaken up, would love to see Bonds go to New York. No other place. Just there. And I actually think this is the only place where his playing could actually boost interest in the game without long-term damage.

What do you think? I know there will be some fiery opinions on both sides of this.


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Posted by Adam

10:19 AM, Jul 17, 2008

If Giambi, Pettitte, Roberts, etc. can play, so can Bonds.


And don't give me this crap that Pettitte and Roberts admitted to their drug use. Bull. They only came forward because they were implicated. They are no better than Bonds.


I just hate the idea of Bonds playing for the Yankees. I'd love to see him with the Rays - not the Yanks.

Posted by scrapiron

10:20 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Ryan Davish of the TNT is reporting a rumor that Bryan LaHair is being called up today and Prospect Insider reported a few days ago that they heard a rumor that Jose Vidro will be released after the all star break.

Let us know what today's workout looks like today, Geoff. It should be interesting.

Posted by Mike

10:24 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Everything I've read about Bonds says he is a colossal jerk. Nevertheless I was advocating for the Ms to pick him up before the season because I thought we didn't have enough offense to compete and the trade for Bedard made this a win-or-else season.

Geoff---you actually get to talk to the players. If Bonds' bat made a team better and gave them a better chance to win wouldn't they want to take the chance on adding him, especially since wherever he went, he wouldn't be the linchpin of the franchise like he was in SF?

And I agree with you about NY. That would be entertaining.

Posted by scrapiron

10:25 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Adam - You and I, among others, were saying back in April that Bonds could have been the solution is Seattle to save the season. We were villified here by many of the other bloggers, because people said they wouldn't go to the games if Bonds was a Mariner. Apparantely, the FO agreed, since they never even talked to BB.

So now people are staying away from Safeco because the team is losing, but they have a nice "chemistry" in the clubhouse and release anyone with even bad body language. Is that better?

Posted by The Code Must Be Broken

10:25 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Again Geoff please answer my question, Is there a code in the Seattle media that you cant talk about Ichiro's uselessness on the field? maybe you don't agree that he's useless but at least highlight the fact that this team sucks all around, Ichiro included. No one should deny he is of far more value as a trade piece than on our roster. So Geoff is there a code?

Posted by Rudy L

10:34 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Actually, most everyone has today off too. There are only four games (1 AL).

Posted by smith

10:41 AM, Jul 17, 2008

I am a bit surprised by the Yankees this season. They seem to be complacent for once. First they dropped out of the Santana sweepstakes. Then they dismissed Bedard. Recently they missed the boat on Sabbathia and Harden. It seems like not too long ago when the Yanks would have been all over at least two of those players. Now rumors about them signing Bonds? What would be next? Clemens? Rafael Palmeiro? Maybe even Canseco?

Posted by Our Beloved Vidro

10:42 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Scrapiron,

Not everyone with bad body language was released. Our beloved Vidro is fairly disrespectful to Lee Elia and a few of the pitchers after he strikes out. Another guy who has poor body language in Ichiro. He ain't the jovial guy he is at the AS game. Actually He might take the cake for poorest body language of the season (aside from the black hole formerly know as Sexson). Love the guy but what I've seen at every game Ive been to since 2003 and the one game I attended with a body language expert last year about this time are very telling. My point is not to make Ichiro the bad guy or say he should be DFA but it is that poor play not "body language" should result in DFA.

BTW I would pay big money to see Barry Bonds in an M's uniform. I'd go to atleast 20 games and pay for a suite everytime. The whole keep the HR king out of Baseball speaks volumes to the BS that MLB and Howard Shultz have put on as a pro sports league.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:46 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Scrap / Adam - For the Ms, Bringing Bonds here is just more of the same approach of thinking one or two more veterans would fix this team. It wasn't necessary in March when this team had a chance. It isn't necessary now. Apart from the steroids issues and his personality, he's only usable for another couple years at best. Home run king / walks king or no, he's not an answer.

For the Yankees, Rays or anyone else in the AL making a playoff run this year who could use a DH, sure, take a shot. A 3-month solution to plug a hole, perhaps. Ride him to the World Series, no.

Bonds and Clemens seem to keep coming back just when I thought we'd finally heard enough of them, like some bad movie zombie that refuses to die. I really don't care where they land or what they do.

TCMBB - I strongly suspect that if Geoff told you there is no code, you'd reply with "well of course you'd say that - the code demands it". Kind of a "when did you stop beating your wife" sort of question, isn't it?

Posted by scrapiron

10:52 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Chris - Bonds is not the answer for the Mariners now. Not even close.

I was talking about in early April when we were losing ground on the Angels and still had a chance. If we'd had 4 months of Bonds in a Mariner uniform today, we definately would have scored more runs, and we wouldn't be having this "who should be the cleanup hitter?" debate today either. With an improved offense, our good bullpen might have made a difference.

Today? The season is over, free agents aren't the answer, and the Mariners need to be sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline.

Posted by Zack

10:54 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Great piece, Geoff. Hopefully we'll see some of those call ups soon and use the rest of this season as an audition for the 09 club.

As for Bonds, I like your opinion on the matter. Perverse is a perfect word to describe my feelings on the matter, as well. I don't like the Yankees or Bonds all that much but the fireworks that could come out of Barry in a NY uniform would be fun to see if nothing else. And if NY still missed out on the playoffs it would just be hilarious.

Posted by Mike

11:05 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Chris from B--One thing about free agents. While I don't advocate trying to build a team around them, they can be nice fillers IF you don't overpay for overlong. Billy Beane has judiciously signed a few and been rewarded. Then he lets them walk and recoups the compensatory draft picks.

Taking a one year flyer on a Jose Guillen or Brad Wilkerson is not fraught with risk and sometimes they work out nicely. It's the long term contracts that we gave Sexson, Washburn, Batista and Silva that are killing us.

Pokey Reese may not have worked out but that signing did nothing to hurt us.

Posted by Adam

11:08 AM, Jul 17, 2008

scrap - Yep, sure glad Bonds isn't around to cause problems in clubhouse.

Nevermind Geoff's own reports that there are rifts in the clubhouse, a story that the national media (ESPN, Ken Rosenthal, among others) have also reported.

Everything is fine and dandy, yesiree!!

They blew their chance to get Bonds when they still had a shot - now getting Bonds would be besides the point; although if they still the short-term is important, I think going from Vidro to Bonds represents a bit of an improvement.

But that would make the fans mad, wouldn't it? The fans don't care if we lose 100 games, but getting Bonds would be over the line!!


Honestly, I have no clue what goes through the minds of the FO...

Posted by Lenny Randle's Breath

11:09 AM, Jul 17, 2008

I think I'm in the minority when it comes to the issue of steroids.

I am against lying in federal courts.

I would have liked to see Bonds play for the M's. They could have used his forked tongue to handle the press.

"We are scoring runs."

Posted by BrianL

11:11 AM, Jul 17, 2008

The Code Must Be Broken -

Yes, the team's leader in average, hits, runs, triples, stolen bases (Hey look it's those counting stats everyone loves), on-base percentage, intentional walks and who also happens to be the best defensive outfielder on the roster is useless.

Utterly, utterly useless.

Posted by Batter Up!!!

11:13 AM, Jul 17, 2008

TCMBB: If there is a code Jim Moore of the PI is not on board.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/371111_moore17.html

Bonds is running on empty and would have little or no impact for the NYY. NY fans would not be kind to him and the clubhouse interaction would be interesting, should be entertaining. If I'm wrong and he does have some juice left and knocks the cover off it, it will still be entertaining. Let him play. In any case He and Hank deserve each other.

Posted by matt

11:17 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Geoff, have you actually been to a M's game when the Yankees are in town? As sickening as it is, there are plenty of Yankee fans roaming this side of the Hudson.

Posted by George

11:17 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Please let Bonds go off and play golf with Clemens and McGuire and start the process of putting a lot of time between this day and the point in the future when no one cares how they did what they did on the field ...

Posted by The Centerfield Bum

11:23 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Reports from Tacoma are that LaHair is coming off an injury and that Balentien hasn't hit real well since being sent down. It doesn't seem like a big deal for the organization to give these guys a few weeks to show they're ready to come up before activating them to the major league roster.

Also, who knows right now who the M's are looking to acquire via a possible trade. A trade or trades could potentially open up roster spots that make cuts unnecessary, or acquistions could affect who ends up on the major league roster.

I see no urgency to make significant changes to the 25-man major league roster until after a trade takes place or the trade deadline passes. I fully expect changes will be made around the end of this month or early next month.

Posted by Gabe

11:30 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Sexson just signed with the Yankees

Posted by Miles

11:32 AM, Jul 17, 2008

So much for that idea Geoff. Hope you didnt' spend too much time on the article.

:-)

Posted by jeff928

11:36 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Maybe ARod can introduce Barry to Madonna? Those steroids probably enlarged more than his head.

Release Vidro, trade Raul and Washburn and Erica Bedard (if possible).

Posted by PayClayBennett

11:38 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Geoff,

Let us know what's up with Sexson and the Yanks - does this get the M's off the hook for some or all of his remaining 2008 salary? I'm almost in tears I'm laughing so hard...tell the M's not go after Cashman, last thing we need is another guy who would sign Sexson, lol. I had money on the Dodgers, but guess I lost...

Posted by scrapiron

11:38 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Wow, the guy who's feelings were hurt when Safeco booed him is now in a Yankee uniform. I sure hope the Bronx fans will be nice to him! This doesn't look good. Good luck, Sexson.

Posted by scrapiron

11:41 AM, Jul 17, 2008

The Mariners are basically paying Sexson to play for the Yankees. It's the same as the Blue Jays paying Frank Thomas to play for the A's.

The Yankees will only be on the hook for a pro-rated major league minimum salary.

Posted by abenforcer

11:44 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Bonds to NY would never work because the Yankees have so many DHs already (Matsui, Giambi, Damon).

Posted by DistantFan

11:48 AM, Jul 17, 2008

My ex-wife used to root for the Yankees (mostly just to piss me off). She would always point out how cool it was that the Yankees refuse to put a player's names across the backs of the uniform, which she contorted into a test for each of their players, to earn the number and the pinstripes. Me, I always thought it was appropriate that a team of colossal egotists would have no names on their uniforms- the front office needed to remind them regularly that they were a team, not selfish individuals.

So, Bonds to the Yankees? A perfect fit.

Posted by Tictac

11:49 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Geoff, good idea to "hide" the LaHair comment in a Barry Bonds thread. There seems to be a huge contingent of M's fans that think LaHair is a waste of space. However, I think you should have a separate topic about what minor leaguers should be called up this year and why?

Posted by Thomas

11:51 AM, Jul 17, 2008

Geoff,

What is up with Rosenthal's account of Sexson sitting in the bullpen last week? I hadn't heard that yet and it disappoints me. Thought Sexson was a pretty stand up guy, but seems like he turned into an aloof jerk towards the end - not the popular "hard worker."

Posted by BrianL

11:55 AM, Jul 17, 2008

scrapiron - The only difference is that Frank Thomas still has something to offer to an MLB club...

Posted by Paul

11:55 AM, Jul 17, 2008

I'm on board with you on this Bonds idea. Much as I would've loved to have seen A-Rod spend the rest of his career rotting in Texas, it was convenient when all my baseball hate was consolidated in one place.

You forgot one more "plus" of Bonds moving to New York, though: a sequel to ESPN's "The Bronx is Burning"!

Posted by meagain

11:59 AM, Jul 17, 2008

After the Josh Hamilton story of overcoming drug addiction made such a splash at the All Star game, it strikes me that bringing Bonds in to any team would negate a good message. That's why I disagree with Geoff. Baseball is trying to get over the cynicism of the steroids era, and while I suspect there are plenty of HGH users around, anything to counter the bad feelings is worth hanging onto. This work in progress needs to continue in the right direction. Hiring Bonds would be a step backward.

As for Ichiro's "uselessness on the field", then the next step in logic is that he would be useless in trade as well. I assume that was hyperbole.

The M's should entertain trade offers for Ichiro, but to let him go for less than a power hitting lefty and a top prospect would be bad baseball management and even worse business management.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:00 PM, Jul 17, 2008

Scrap - yeah, I knew what you meant re: when bonds would have been right fit - didn't make that clear.

And re: Sexson - Couldn't the Ms have eaten Sexson's salary as part of a trade for at least some minor leaguer in the Yanks' system? The Yankees just waited it out and picked him up for free, rather than the Ms getting something, anything, even a ham sandwich. Bah!

Sexson better hope the Yankees pick up Bonds, so that he doesn't have to deal with Yankee "fans" and the NY press so much when he does just as poorly with the bat there as he did here.

Posted by Os fan

12:11 PM, Jul 17, 2008

Why is this dush geoff writing about Bonds and New york . Whats the matter nothing to write about from your home team. I have a few suggestions for your next peice. The Ms are over 20 games out of first, in a poor division. Or somthing like why did we trade Adam Jones. lol How did we let Andy Mcphail bend us over without buying us dinner first. Stop worrying about other teams and concentrate more on your home team. Your a joke!

Posted by Os fan

12:39 PM, Jul 17, 2008

lol no team is going to give anything for Ichy. He is declining and his best years are behind him. He really is not as good as you think. The rest of the league knows this but you dont seem to. I think one of the problems is Ms fo and fan base dont seem to be in reality. You have to be realistic and see things for what they are and itchy is doo doo. The only player that has real value is puttz. I dont think he is even as good as Sherril. lol Good luck with that.

Posted by IdahoMariner

12:51 PM, Jul 17, 2008

I have to add my voice to those who disagree with Os Fan and TCMBB. So does Joba Chamberlain:

http://bats.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/03/ichiro-being-ichiro-and-mo-being-mo/

What is it like to be 22 years old, nearly unhittable, and facing Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners for the first time? Chamberlain –- who has still not allowed an earned run at Yankee Stadium in the regular season –- allowed a single to center by Suzuki in Friday’s 5-1 Yankees victory. Here’s Joba Chamberlain to explain, word for word.
“There’s no words to describe that guy. He’s unbelievable. We had him 2-2, two heaters away, and he cleared his hips. I don’t know how you get out of the box, clear your hips and still keep your hands in. It’s unbelievable. There’s no other word to describe it. It’s like the sinker he hit off Wang -– one of the best pitches all night, and he hits a line drive up the middle. There’s nothing you can do about it. You’ve got to tip your hat to that guy. You might as well just let him go to second. You can be one-flat to the plate, and he’s still going to run.”
Quite simply, there’s nobody quite like Suzuki, just like there’s nobody quite like the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera. This is his line for the 2008 season: 12 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 12 strikeouts, 8 for 8 in save opportunities. Hard to believe that on this date last year, he had a 10.57 earned run average and one save in three chances.
There are quite a few good closers in the majors. But there is only one Rivera, just like there is only one Suzuki. They are the best of the best, and a privilege to watch

Posted by megain

12:52 PM, Jul 17, 2008

I think the gentleman from Baltimore has Ichiro confused with Jay Gibbons.

Frank Robinson continues to weep.

Posted by Lady Luck

1:08 PM, Jul 17, 2008

The mere fact that the rusty, 44 yr old (7/24/64) diva with shot knees, a bad head, and no greenies, has remained unsigned for this many months makes a strong statement about how much of an "answer" he is to any team's contention problems.

Even the A's have said "no" to Bonds.

I can't believe that the Yankees feel that desperate...

Posted by Adam The Lord

1:08 PM, Jul 17, 2008

I think a certain O's fan is the one who should stop reading Mariner blogs and go concentrate on his own team, although I know that must be pretty though seeing as that team has enjoyed losing seasons for... oh what is it now... the last 10 years...

Posted by Os fan

1:11 PM, Jul 17, 2008

And he afected the game how? He is a light hitting I mean light hitting. Way over paid and is declining. Good for him he got a single.lol Like I said you trade him and all you will get will be a bag of golf balls. who Besides your team will pay in what you are. Are you watching the same baseball I do? He has declining range , Poor base runner, not a leader , pretends not to speak english and has no arm. Think what you want , I bet you are the same guy who thought you were going to win this year.

Posted by Os fan

1:15 PM, Jul 17, 2008

I said it before Im very happy with my Os . They have alresdy exceeded expectations. No Im not going anywere. I need a good laugh at least once a day.

Posted by deepthroat

1:32 PM, Jul 17, 2008

Clemens, not Bonds is the real scurge of baseball.

Free Barry Bonds and let him play out his career.

Are you telling me that with all those men left on base by the Mariners this year Bonds wouldn't have made a difference? How many times have ichiro and lopez been on base only to see the next 3 pop up, strike out or hit into a double play?

Is Bonds' attitude any worse than Bedard? Is his selfishness any worse than Ichiro's?

HELL NO!

LET BARRY PLAY!

Posted by Scout

3:45 PM, Jul 17, 2008

Regarding cheering the Yankees in 2001. The Yankee fans abused the goodwill of the Mariners fans that year by chanting a derisive "One-Six-Teen" to mock our accomplishment as they sealed the winning playoff. I will never forget how totally classless the Yankee fans are. You'd think they'd be a little more humble. I love the city, but Yankees fans deserve nothing but to be soaked with the highest ticket prices and highest luxury tax skim and probably worse but I don't want to sink to Yankee fans level.

Posted by Adam

4:15 PM, Jul 17, 2008

ESPN (Sportscenter) is reporting that the A's have traded Joe Blanton to the Phillies for three prospects.


Take note, people. Before the Haren trade, Oakland's farm system was thought to be pretty barren. So what does Beane do? He trades Haren, Swisher, Harden, and Blanton and in less than 9 months completely revitalizes the farm system, AND puts together a team that is contending for the WC.

Anyone want to tell me that rebuilding in the AL is a long process?


We could have had Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, Sherrill, Butler, etc and been much farther along in our rebuilding.


As much as I can't stand the A's, it's fun to watch Beane completely own the rest of MLB.

Posted by chas b

5:21 PM, Jul 17, 2008

The game no longer needs Barry Bonds, it has been refreshing not to hear his trials and tribulations. Let him be. His has earned the right to be ignored.

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