We’re a few short days away from 2016 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2015. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.
Barry Bonds has been in baseball’s wilderness for a long, long time. Most of it of his own doing, of course. After breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record in 2007 Bonds never played again. There was still every indication that he was a useful player — he posted a line of .276/.380/.565 that year — but he was unable to find a team who would sign him. Was it collusion? Possibly, though an arbitrator eventually ruled that it wasn’t. That left us with the explanation that baseball just didn’t want to deal with him and the controversy which surrounded him any longer. In addition to being a famously difficult personality in the clubhouse, Bonds was indicted and was facing a perjury and obstruction of justice trial.
For most of the next eight years, baseball’s all-time home run leader was consumed with legal matters. He was acquitted on all but one of the charges and, after a lengthy appeal process, prevailed on the remaining count. This past July the government finally and definitively dropped all efforts to make a criminal out of Barry Bonds. At long last, Bonds would be able to slip into quiet retirement, pursuing what had become his new passion: cycling up and down the mountains of the Bay Area.
Or would he?
In late November reports circulated that the Miami Marlins were interested in hiring Bonds to be their hitting coach. Bonds had been a guest instructor for the Giants during the past couple of spring trainings, but nothing about his post-playing life suggested that he’d be amenable to returning to the eight month grind of Major League Baseball. Bonds surprised everyone, however, by accepting the job. He’ll be back in uniform come February and will be back in a major league dugout on Opening Day.
There is some reason to believe that Bonds’ decision to take this job, with this club, was not well-considered and that his tenure with the Marlins may not last a very long time. But in the meantime, a man baseball fans and commentators love to hate is back in the game.
He’s not the only guy who fits that description who returned in 2015, but you’ll have to wait a good while for us to get to the other rehabilitated pariah on our countdown.