Must-click link: Barry Bonds’ second act


We’ve noted around here before how Barry Bonds has gotten into cycling in retirement. Like, seriously into it, spurred on by his girlfriend, former world champion and Olympic silver medalist cycler Mari Holden.

Bonnie D. Ford has a feature on Bonds’ involvement in cycling in ESPN the magazine, and it’s excellent. It explores how and why Bonds got into cycling and notes his involvement with and sponsorship of a women’s cycling team. It also notes how some in the cycling and anti-doping communities are wary of Bonds’ involvement with cycling, a sport which knows from doping. There’s a considerable tension between the sport’s need for sponsorship and backing like Bonds provides and its uneasiness with a known doper.

But, apart from the personal stuff about Bonds, the most interesting part is about how, the wariness aside, cycling in general is basically accepting of Bonds and dopers in general. More so than baseball anyway:

Bonds’ most casual asides can have a jangling reverb because of the damage doping has inflicted on both sports — like his oft-expressed admiration of Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, whose 2010 Tour de France title was stripped after a positive test for a banned substance.

The flip side is that Bonds might have found some degree of acceptance in cycling because the sport is far franker than most about its recent history after 15 years of more aggressive PED testing and policing. Doping offenders frequently re-enter the sport after their suspensions end, and some have prominent roles in management, broad-casting and sponsorship. Professional peace, however uncomfortable, has to be made.

As it should in baseball. Police doping and suspend dopers. But deal with it like the chronic problem it is, not as if it’s some sort of mortal sin. Barry Bonds and others like him have things to offer baseball just as the people who re-enter cycling have things to offer their sport.

Anyway, a good story about Bonds’ second act. A second act which some people would probably prefer he not have given their obvious desire to see PED-associated ballplayers just disappear entirely.

Nationals GM Rizzo won’t reveal length of Martinez’s new contract

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WASHINGTON — Dave Martinez spoke Saturday about managing the Washington Nationals for “many, many years” and over the “long term” and “quite some time,” thanks to his contract extension.

Sharing a table to a socially distanced degree with his manager on a video conference call to announce the new deal – each member of the duo sporting a 2019 World Series ring on his right hand – Nationals GM Mike Rizzo referred to the agreement’s “multiyear” nature, but repeatedly refused to reveal anything more specific in response to reporters’ questions.

“We don’t talk about terms as far as years, length and salaries and that type of thing. We’re comfortable with what we have and the consistency that we’re going to have down the road,” said Rizzo, who recently agreed to a three-year extension of his own. “That’s all we want to say about terms, because it’s private information and we don’t want you guys to know about it.”

When Martinez initially was hired by Rizzo in October 2017 – his first managing job at any level – the Nationals’ news release at the time announced that he was given a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year.

That 2021 option had not yet been picked up.

“The partnership that Davey and I have together, our communication styles are very similar. Our aspirations are similar, and kind of our mindset of how to obtain the goals that we want to obtain are similar. I think it’s a good match,” Rizzo said. “We couldn’t have hit on a more positive and enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse. I think you see it shine through even in the most trying times.”

The Nationals entered Saturday – Martinez’s 56th birthday – with a 23-34 record and in last place in the NL East, which Rizzo called “a disappointing season.” The team’s title defense was slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg threw just five innings because of a nerve issue in his pitching hand and players such as Starlin Castro, Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, Adam Eaton and Carter Kieboom finished the year on the IL.

“This year, for me, we didn’t get it done. We had a lot of bumps in the road this year. But I really, fully believe, we’ve got the core guys here that we need to win another championship,” Martinez said. “I know Mike, myself, we’re going to spend hours and hours and hours trying to fill the void with guys we think can potentially help us in the future. And we’ll be back on the podium. I’m really confident about that.”

Rizzo was asked Saturday why the team announces contract lengths for players, as is common practice around the major leagues, but wouldn’t do so in this instance for Martinez.

“The reason is we don’t want anybody to know. That’s the reason,” Rizzo said, before asking the reporter: “How much do you make? How many years do you have?”

Moments later, as the back-and-forth continued, Rizzo said: “It’s kind of an individual thing with certain people. I don’t want you to know what I make or how many years I have. Davey doesn’t want you to know. And I think that it’s only fair … when people don’t want certain information out there, that we don’t give it.”

There were some calling for Martinez to lose his job last season when Washington got off to a 19-31 start. But Rizzo stood by his manager, and the team eventually turned things around, going 74-38 the rest of the way to reach the playoffs as an NL wild-card team.

The Nationals then beat the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series, where they beat the Houston Astros in Game 7.

Washington joined the 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams in major league history to win a World Series after being 12 games below .500 during a season.

“Everything from Day 1 to where he’s gotten to now, he’s grown so much. He’s really become one of my favorite managers of all,” three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer said after helping Washington win Saturday’s opener of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. “Davey really understands how to manage a clubhouse, manage a team. We saw it in the postseason. He knows how to push the right buttons when everything is on the line.”