In yesterday's Newsday and on his blog, David Lennon talks about Barry Bonds and the impact he would have on the Mets. Actually, his feature article is mostly player reaction to the possibility (apparently not) of the Mets signing Barry Bonds to play left field while Moises Alou is hurt and I guess fill in wherever once Alou gets back. Buster Olney mentioned the Mets as a good fit for Bonds, and this is actually one of the rare times I agree with him on anything.
We know what Bonds is: a narcissist, a cheater, a lousy husband, quite possibly a perjurer. The last one, really, is the only one that should seriously give the Mets -- or any other team -- pause. There have been plenty of cheaters, not even including the countless masses who have used amphetamines over the years to gain an edge. Baseball has also seen it's fair share of disfunctional individuals. Too, infidelity is hardly an uncommon occurrence among ballplayers; sadly, the unfaithful athlete is the rule, not the exception.
He never choked his coach, slammed his wife's head on the hood of a car, slapped his wife in public, or any of the other assorted malfeasances of countless baseball ne'erdowells. Too, he was never caught whacking it in the presence of minors.
Perjury is a big deal, and is a very tough thing to prove, whether or not Bonds actually committed it (we know he used PEDs, but the grand jury will have to be convinced that he did so knowingly when Bonds claimed that he didn't). Any team signing Bonds will surely work clauses into his contract to terminate same in the event of arraignment, perjury trial, et cetera. Most signs indicate that any trial would take place after the 2008 season, so it's quite possible that Bonds could play this year unencumbered, at least by actual proceedings, if not the endless questions about the trial to come.
I understand why teams are leery of signing Bonds, but whatever your feelings about the man, I think the way he has been blackballed by Major League Baseball in general and Bud Selig in particular is catty and disgraceful. Many probably feel that the circus Bonds will bring with him -- his baggage -- is too much for any team, let alone the public relations-conscious Mets. More to the point, signing Bonds would take a massive set of balls, the likes of which I am fairly certain the Mets don't possess. For as long as I can remember, the Mets have used the New York media as the sounding board for decisions within their baseball operations department. Someone wrote a story about Scott Kazmir's attitude towards veterans or his taste in music, and he gets traded to Tampa Bay. We're treated to articles about Lastings Milledge recording a rap record or pissing off some elder Mets and he is promptly shipped off to Washington. I don't expect that pattern's cessation anytime soon.
I want the Mets to sign Barry Bonds because he would help the team immensely on the field and because he would make the team a ton of money off of it, and as an avid fan of his baseball accomplishments, I count myself among those who would gladly pay to see him don a Mets uniform. If the Mets don't sign him -- and everything we've heard indicates as much -- I truly hope he signs with some other team, even if it's the loathsome Yankees or Phillies. Whatever his transgressions, Bonds has brought so much good to the game of baseball that I think he deserves to leave the game when he is ready to hang up his cleats, and not because there wasn't a team with the stones to bring him to their town.