Must-click link: Barry Bonds’ second act

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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.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.