Sometimes it pays to remain quiet
Clearly, Barry Bonds has learned a lot from Karl Rove. The mad scientist behind George W. Bush’s rise to power had one sentence scribbled over and over in his notebook: Never let your guy have an unscripted moment. And so Barry’s big “interview” at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Wednesday took on all the appearances of a Bush campaign speech: that is to say, the audience was screened for undesirables, the questions preselected and scrubbed for his protection, and a large dish of refreshing mints placed on the table within his easy reach.
Had I gone with my initial instinct – to show up at the event wearing the comical giant papier-mâché Barry Bonds head – I’m sure I wouldn’t have even made it into the building. Don’t tase me, bro!
So this Bonds pity party – hosted by KGO Radio and attended by about 500 people, among them actor Danny Glover – revolved around two things: Barry being bitter at the Giants, and Barry expressing hope that the Giants would take him back. One would think that the two sentiments would be working at cross purposes, but that’s a classic abuser for you. And the victim is usually the last to see it; Bonds’ introduction alone took 15 minutes, with host Ray Taliaferro gushing over a list of statistics, and then finally asking his first hard-hitting question: “Barry, did you really do all of these things?”
“I did,” replied Bonds. “And then I got fired. Shame on me, huh?”
Fired? Is that what they call it now? Bonds had a million of ’em, including the notion that, if he were running the Giants, they would immediately be in the World Series. “I know the game so well,” he said. “I can see talent; I know exactly what I’d be looking for.”
Cream and Clear dispensers in the dugout? Oh sorry, no questions about steroids allowed. Rove would be proud.
There was also this: “I told Peter Magowan that if I’m a part-time player, I’m better than your full-time player and it’s a wise idea to keep me. We still have time. Things change.”
So what was the point of this little party? Does Barry actually think that, with the home run record broken, he has any value left for the Giants? Even at a reduced salary, the baggage he checks with the team just wouldn’t be worth it – even considering the fact that it looks like he will not be indicted for lying about steroids. Or did Barry simply want one last time to be wrapped in the warmth of the only fan base that actually likes him? He took questions from the audience, but they were written on cards and preselected by the host, Taliaferro, who gently laid them in his hero’s lap on a satin pillow. If they had to be summarized, one could say that they all read, “Barry, why are you so awesome?”
So no, it wasn’t a great night for journalism, or the truth, or baseball. This staged event aside, Bonds’ legacy and reputation will be forever tainted. And Glover can flap his arms all he wants, ain’t nothing bringing it back.
– Rick Chandler is the associate editor of Deadspin.com. Contact him at RickChand@GMail.com.