Barry Bonds thinks he belongs in the Hall, doesn’t care if he’s kept out, loves Roger Clemens

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Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record five years ago today. Recently he sat down with Barry Bloom of MLB.com to talk about that, the end of his career, the Hall of Fame, his status as a felon and his good friend Roger Clemens.

It’s a pretty b.s.-free interview in which he offers the following:

  • He wishes he was better with the media during his career, but he just isn’t wired that way;
  • He thinks his career ended too soon — he wanted to play one more year — but was happy for the 22 years he did get and is glad he finished as a San Francisco Giant;
  • He respects the Hall of Fame and believes he belongs (“There’s no doubt in my mind”) but he’s not going to be upset if the writers keep him out, saying that if they want to apply their moral standards to make it their Hall of Fame, that’s their business;
  • He was happy Roger Clemens was acquitted and thinks everyone needs to lay off him. Personally, Bonds said he “will go to the end of the earth for that man.”;
  • He wants to win his appeal, but if he loses he accepts that he’s been judged a felon, will do his sentence and move on; and
  • He doesn’t want to be a uniformed, regular coach, but he does want to teach hitting for the Giants, saying “it would be a shame for what I know, to what I can give, to what I can offer, to let it go to waste.”

Lots of good stuff in there. It’d be different if he was deluded about his standing among the fans and the media, but he seems pretty realistic about it. It’s hard to disagree with anything he says.

As for the Hall, Bonds is going to be a lot of fun come voting time. Unlike all of the other PEDs dudes so far, there is no rational argument that he wouldn’t be a shoe-in absent PEDs. As Bill James once said about Rickey Henderson, cut him and half and you have two Hall of Famers. Dock him 300 homers and all of his post-1999 awards and he’s still a Hall of Famer.

So basically, if one doesn’t vote for Bonds, one is saying only one thing: any player who uses PEDs is morally unfit for the Hall.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.