One of the last times Barry Bonds caused any kind of noteworthy spring training fuss was back in 2005 when he arrived fresh off knee surgery with the vortex of baseball’s steroid scandal swirling around him. Flanked by his son, a dejected Bonds told the assembled media, “You finally brought me and my family down.”
Bonds was playing the role in a Shakespearean tragedy that was moving to the third and final act, but there WAS that other time he sparked a ruckus in the desert that I almost forgot. Almost. You remember. I mean, how could you forget? He dressed as American Idol judge Paula Abdul. Some people gleefully point out that we hadn’t seen much of him or Abdul for that matter since then.
Well, Bonds is back as a guest hitting instructor and with it will come a tsunami of suffocating round-the-clock processing. The organization is treating this experience as they would with any other former star that visits the spring training facility, whether its J.T. Snow, Will Clark or Jeff Kent. Now if it was Kent AND Bonds together, two people that like each other about as much as Obama likes Putin at the moment, then we would really have something to look forward to, but this is merely one week and one week only for both sides.
Love him or loathe him and there are plenty of people on both sides, Bonds had one of the keenest eyes ever at the plate. Seeing maybe four or five good pitches to hit a game. That requires superior hand-eye coordination and supreme discipline. How this acumen translates to fertile hitting minds remains to be seen, but he’ll have an eager audience hanging on his every word. During his playing days, Bonds typically wore a metaphorical suit of armor, clanking around in a surley mood, rarely letting others peak at what was underneath. In one way, he’s actually being transparent. Granted, it’s about his hitting secrets, but the transparency can’t just be within the confines of the batters box. The real issue is his long-term viability in the sport he lorded over for several years and if he wants to be a permanent fixture and not just a guest hitting instructor, he will need to come clean about absolutely everything.