An interesting interview with Barry Bonds’ son Nicolai

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Several years ago Jeff Pearlman wrote a book about Barry Bonds. It wasn’t a flattering portrayal. While Pearlman says — and I believe him — that he intended to write a balanced book and sought out people who could say things that were complimentary about the all-time home run king, the fact was that there weren’t many to be found. It’s also the case that, if he’s being honest, and he usually is, Pearlman doesn’t care for Bonds himself overall and, among media folk, is among the more extreme anti-PED guys you’ll find.

All of which makes his interview with Bonds’ son Nicolai pretty darn interesting.

Nicolai Bonds is not himself a notable figure. And, as he admits himself, he doesn’t have a close relationship with his father. But even if the younger Bonds himself isn’t really newsworthy, I find both this interview and his answers notable because they both acknowledge that there is a personal aspect to the things written about sports figures and celebrities that probably should not be dismissed as meaningless or unimportant.

Pearlman, by doing this interview and asking the questions he asks seems to acknowledge that the stuff people like him write about people like Barry Bonds has some real world significance. They’re writing about human beings with feelings and families and, even if they feel obligated by facts or duty to write harsh truths or negative things, they are still responsible for the things they say to or about their subjects, at least on some level. At the very least, it seems to me to be an acknowledgment on Pearlman’s part that he does not necessarily assume his past subjects to be mustache-twirling villains who ceased to exist the moment he ripped them in print. There’s something important about that, I think, even if Pearlman may still conclude that Bonds is a sonofabitch.

As for Nicolai Bonds, he has a couple of long, thoughtful answers regarding the perception of his father. I find them particularly insightful for their mention of Bonds as “an entertainer” and what he perceives his father’s duty was to the fans, the media and the public at large. I think that Bonds’ conception of that — his dad owed Giants fans entertainment and the Giants themselves hard play and nothing more to anyone else — is pretty darn healthy. Far more healthy than the majority sentiment that athletes are role models and have some grand responsibility to raise your kids and theirs and to otherwise set some higher and better example than anyone else.

Anyway, a good read. Kudos for Pearlman being frank with his subject and his subject being frank with him.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.