Here’s a review of the career and meaning of Barry Bonds from Grant Brisbee. Brisbee, of course, is a Giants fan and blogger, so it’s not an objective review. But why the hell should it be? People who write the assessments of the all-time greats almost always grew up with their subjects and carry with them no small amount of personal baggage and nostalgia. They just don’t cop to it. Brisbee does.
And he’s fair. He doesn’t deny the PED stuff or the Bonds-is-a-jerk stuff. It’s all in there. But so too is the dominance. And so too is what Bonds meant to young baseball fans — especially Giants fans — in the 1990s. Which is something that those who like to cast Bonds as a villain or cast him out entirely never mention. Mickey Mantle gets the “what he meant to people of a certain age in New York” consideration in all of his career retrospectives. Yaz gets the same stuff for Boston. But stars of the 1990s never get that. Probably because people who were kids in the 90s are just now starting to come into their own as baseball commentators, I guess.
Whatever the case, the by-now incredibly overwrought disparagement of guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and all of the others is not just a shame because of what it means for the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame because those doing so are erasing — or at least are trying to erase — baseball history. They are unfairly devaluing the baseball memories of a lot of people who grew up watching those players play. People who are not idiots and fully realize that many of the players took drugs and all of that. But people who don’t care, because they’re not fixated on the records and the nature and integrity of a player’s legacy like a sportswriter may be.
They care that the Giants didn’t move to Tampa in 1992. They care that they got to see an amazing player hit tremendous home runs and carry an entire team on his back for 15 years. That stuff matters, and it’s about time that the history of that stuff be written. Not just the tut-tutting of men who were too old and jaded to give a crap about it when it happened.