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

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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.

Victor Martinez played his final major league game on Saturday

Victor Martinez
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After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.

In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.

The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.

“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”

Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.360/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.