Dear IA Clonz, and ALL,
Another thing to remember about Bonds, and I say this without having reduced my hatred for the man one iota:
He is NOT Rogers Hornsby. He has not put up four consecutive really good seasons--for four different teams. Pittsburgh hated to lose him, and for
all his odious b.s., the Giants have certainly not wanted to lose him. So, as noxious a presence as he is on teams--and there's really no doubt about
that--it's a price teams are more than happy to pay to have him in their lineup. I won't bathe you in Hornsby stats, but let's just say he is one of
only two hitters, Ted Williams being the other, to win TWO Triple Crowns, and he had a five-year period where his cumulative average was over .400!!!
Yeah, BA is a vastly overrated stat, but still....
So there's Hornsby, the guy a lot of historians still (mistakenly) call the greatest right-handed hitter ever, and teams couldn't trade him fast
enough. By contrast, NO owner or GM has ever wanted to get rid of Bonds.
I should also toss in a partial retraction on my previous list of notorious racists in the Hall. Tris Speaker was from Texas, born in 1888, and was
as strongly racist for MOST of his life as anyone else to whom those two facts applied. He could be violent, though not a stereotype KKK terrorist
who lynched, burned homes, etc.
Well, Speaker had his greatest successes with the Red Sox, but he always felt, both when he played with the Indians for years after that, and after he
retired, that they were the team with whom he identified. And he was such a great player he won a ring with them, too (in 1920), and SOMEHOW--with a
really mediocre lineup and rotation, came within 2 or 3 games of the 1926 Yankees, who were just a hair less than the legendary '27 Yankees.
Considering that James estimates 20 to 25% of the people who saw both Cobb and Speaker play (they were in the same league, born 18 months apart) felt
Speaker the better player, and now knowing what kind of manager he was, aren't you kind of impressed?
Anyway, in youth and midlife, Speaker was for sure a racist, though nothing like Cobb or many other Hall members born back then. Here is what became
of Speaker's hatred of blacks:
Larry Doby, the Cleveland Indian who, in mid-career, "broke the color barrier" in the A.L, one year after Jackie Robinson did so in the N.L., got a
LOT of help on hitting, running the bases and ESPECIALLY patrolling the expanses of CF from the aging Speaker. Imagine being tutored on those things
by a guy who had a .344 lifetime BA, a lot of stolen bases, more doubles than anyone else in MLB history, more putouts than any OF ever, and was the
unquestioned king of defensive OF's until Mays and Ashburn came along.
I have seen pictures of the young Mays, posing with the premturely aging Speaker--they knew, pretty much right off the top, and certainly by THE 1954
"Catch," that Mays, born 43 years after Speaker, was joining him as the co-gold standard for defensive excellence in the OF.
Anyway, unlike the virulent, pathological and often violently racist Cobb, Speaker was a Southern man who grew up with values inevitable for his
time, but changed his ways and made a major contribution to the career of a man who may have had it harder, by the time his career ended, than
Robinson did. Don't forget, the AL was pretty much a segregated league until the 1960's, including the Yankees.
Finally, as to Bonds:
I, too, think he'll make 756, and certainly 715--passing Ruth, whom he's made it clear he hates, though he knows NOTHING about the most fabulous,
complex, inscrutable and probably half-black player in MLB history. Ruth "missed" his first 5-1/2 years as a hitter, because: (1) he was a pitcher,
and at best a part-time hitter; and (2) he was hitting a dead ball in a park where it was 488 feet, if I remember correctly, to deep right field.
(Fenway, before the bleachers in RF.) Regardless of the seats, he was trying to crush a dead ball. How many HR did those years cost him? Probably
150 to 200. Give him those 5 years in Yankee Stadium, much the laughable Polo Grounds (Y.S. didn't open until 1923), and Ruth would have so many
untouchable records that someone would have have to come up at age 19, have phenomenal skills, play phenomenally for 20 or more years, AND have taken
HGH, for about 20 years... to have any chance of catching him for HR's, runs, RBI's, etc., not to mentions slugging average.
Remember, please, Ruth's unreal slugging average was .690. Take away those 5 wasted seasons (except in terms of pitching greatness) and you've got a
lifetime slugging average well over .700. MLB went from 1958 thru Cecil Fielder's breakout year until it had a .700 slugging season, about a 33-year
But yes, IA Clonz, I try to be fair in my judgments on these things, and I absolutely believe that the Barry Bonds we knew prior to that putrid
493-foot HR off Seth Etherton in mid-2000 should get into the Hall, hands down. And I believe his feats prior to then--including the 3 MVP's that
should have been 4 (sorry, Terry Pendleton, who is 100 times the person Bonds is), and his GREAT play in LF, where he was probably the greatest
defense LF ever--are first-year inductee stuff.
If y'all want someday, I will write a week's worth of summaries about all the a.h.'s in the Hall. NO WAY is Bonds #1, or even Top 5, material. But
that's not for lack of effort.