Barry Bonds first pitch NLCS

Wojciechowski: the Giants won the world series because Barry Bonds was gone

66 Comments

ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski has made a mini-career out of moralizing about steroids in baseball.  Sure, lots of guys do that, but Wojciechowski isn’t exactly the straightest shooter in the bunch. Indeed, between Wojciechowski’s crocodile tears and his casual intellectual dishonesty, he’s basically the Glenn Beck of the steroids beat.

Once he beat up on steroids users, equating them with guys who gambled on baseball games and wondering why their punishments weren’t equal. What he didn’t do, however, was point out that there was, you know, an actual rule on the books specifying how gamblers shall be punished and there wasn’t one at the time about what to do with pre-testing steroids users. Oh, and in that same report he chastised Mark McGwire for not talking to the media when, in fact, McGwire had spent an entire week doing nothing but talking to the media, including Wojciechowski’s own ESPN colleagues.

Another time he waxed all emotional about how his trust will be betrayed and his innocence lost if he found out that Derek Jeter was found to be juicing because of the whole Yankee pride thing, without mentioning the fact that a whole bunch of Yankees were named in the Mitchell Report.  It was a dramatic tour de force. Really it was.

The latest entry on his big chalk board: the 2010 Giants would never have won the World Series if Barry Bonds was on the team:

Barry Bonds helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series last season. And he could help them win it again this season.  How? Because he’s not a Giant anymore.  When Bonds and his toxic presence was finally removed by the hazmat people after the 2007 season, the Giants began to win more games. Not a lot at first, but enough to realize that Bonds’ forced departure was like an emergency tracheotomy on the franchise’s windpipe. The Giants could finally breathe again.

And it goes on and on like that, transitioning into a meditation on the Giants’ great team chemistry.

To which I’d ask: does Woj actually believe that Barry Bonds in his prime — and for that matter, Barry Bonds during his ascendancy or his decline — wouldn’t have done more to help the Giants win the World Series last year than Pat Burrell did with his 0 for 13 and 11K performance?  More generally, is it really Wojciechowski’s position that it was the existence of Barry Bonds that kept the Giants from winning the World Series between 1993 and 2007?  That, if all else were equal but Bonds gone, the Giants would have had more success, not less?

I get it: Wojciechowski hates Barry Bonds and everything he stood for. That’s great, because a lot of people do.  But it’s one thing to hate a guy and another to assert something as ridiculous as Barry Bonds presence actually hindered, rather than helped the Giants’ baseball performance. That’s simply ludicrous.

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images
7 Comments

Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.