2009: Someone out to get Bonds: “Gosh, I wish I had a urine sample that had positive results lying within its sealed container. But its too late to get a sample from Barry that will test positive. Oh wait, there is one right there! Never thought that I would find a Bonds urine sample while I was walking down the street…in Detroit. Now we have the evidence to get the All Time Home Run leader…”
Edgar Martinez was a truly great hitter. As good as there was for an extended period of time. Seven straight seasons where Martinez finished a minimum, roughly, of 52% better than the average hitter during his time. 52%! Seven straight times! During that ridiculous stretch of dominance, Edgar enjoyed one mesmerizing season that was far and away his best year. In fact, that season Martinez batted .356, which led the league. Martinez reached base 48% of the time, also led the AL. And his slugging was a ******** .628, third in the league. It is safe to say that Edgar was the best hitter in the AL in 1995, yet who knew? I sure didn’t (of course I was only about 14). For the perception that I had of Edgar was that he was a good player, but I was threatened of him because some people compared him to Ken Griffey Jr., who at the time was personally my favorite player.
But here is the thing. Ken Griffey Jr. overshadowed Edgar Martinez on the national stage. Griffey was better, but I think that the perception was that Griffey was the better hitter too. When, looking back, even though the media made us feel that Edgar Martinez shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath (lack of praise, not anti), I realize that Martinez was everything Griffey was at the plate if not more. Now don’t be confused, Ken Griffey Jr. IS the better player. A first ballot Hall of Famer, one of the greatest players to ever the game. And for what its worth, the second best player of the 90’s, and the second best player that I have ever seen. But that is because Griffey added Gold Glove quality defense in CF, something Martinez couldn’t even come close to duplicating. Edgar added nothing even closely related to defensive value. But boy could he swing a mean stick.
People in Seattle may feel differently, but Griffey was untouchable for a long time. Bonds was better, but wasn’t media friendly, and I ignorantly went on believing that Griffey was the best player in baseball. I was young, cut me some slack, nor did I even have cable until 1996. The national media always gave props to Griffey though, and although they were not anti-Edgar, they just never seemed to make it out as him being anywhere near Griffey’s planet. Maybe it was because Griffey’s father was a famous player. Maybe because Griffey was such an incredible talent at age 19, while Edgar’s career didn’t really get started until he was 27 years old. It was probably a combination of things, and “Web Gems” should be included in that category of “things” too. But only now do I realize how truly great Edgar Martinez was. I remember that game winning hit that he had in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees. But what I remembered most about that, and still do, was who crossed the plate to win that game. None other than Griffey himself, exuberant, smiling, as happy as I have ever seen him. But who made solid contact and ripped that ball down the line? It was one of the greatest hitters of my lifetime. It was Edgar Martinez.
Ken Griffey Jr. is one of my favorite players ever, top three. Easily the sweetest swing I have ever witnessed. And to this day, even as Griffey ages and his production decreases, I tend to go out of my way to watch his at bats. But it seems that today, with sabermetrics at its peak, and with the knowledge we have now, Edgar Martinez is getting his due. He always played second fiddle to Griffey, it seemed, but now everyone is starting to realize how good his bat was. Because what Edgar is now is a borderline Hall of Famer, and the only reason he is that, is because of that bat. If he could simply have fielded the position he originally tried to field, 3B, he would be looking forward to induction.
It is sad that a lack of games, and no defensive position may keep Edgar out of the Hall, and I really don’t mind what happens either way, objectively. But from 1991-2003, Edgar Martinez was just about as good as there was swinging the bat. His career OPS+ was 147 (47% better than average). Martinez batted .312/.418/.515 in 2055 games spread out over at least parts of 18 different seasons. His postseasons were pretty impressive too. Overall, Edgar batted only .266 in 34 postseason games. But his .365 OBP was good, and his eight home runs and .508 Slugging was very good. If Martinez gets a call from the Hall, I will enjoy it, and can find ways to defend his case. But if the voters keep him out because of what he did not do, then I will understand that perspective, too.
And by the way, if you have time check out that link and watch the end, do it. Because it may be the greatest “non Red Sox baseball moment” of my life.
Tell me all of your reasons, if you all wish, why Barry Lamar Bonds is or is not the greatest player to ever step on the diamond.
Assuming Barry Bonds has been hitting the cage this season, or more accurately, this “offseason” for him, I am kind of thinking that someone not signing him was an opportunity missed. Of course, I cannot mock a front office for not wanting to take in a player with the negative invisible surroundings that do in fact clearly surround Barry Bonds. Bonds would bring more media to a team than most ever have, more criticism would be shrewn upon whomever were to be the “ink” on the other end of a Bonds contract. But I also know that some teams desperately needed a corner outfielder, or a DH. And Bonds was simply, and is simply, the cost of a very small amount of money. Small amount for a baseball organization anyway.
This I truly believe. After all Barry Bonds has been through, mostly due to his own actions. He would be willing to put aside his ego, at least in the publics eye, in order to play for a few months on a contending team. Some of his desire may be simply trying to prove that steroids weren’t the reason he was so great. If he came in for two months with the new testing program in place, and played well, then some may change their stance on him. I for one think that Bonds would just welcome the opportunity to do what he has always done, play the game of baseball, even if it were only for another 150 plate appearences or so.
Some see a clubhouse disaster when Barry Bonds’ name lingers around in the media in whichever given city, I see an opportunity, a business opportunity, for a team in need. I don’t blame the ones who are skeptical of Bonds being acquired, but I think that he would just play the game if he were signed for the remaining games in a season that is closing out a little faster than I want it to.
I kept saying to coworkers that if Manny were to be traded, then Bonds would be the best option to take his place. I know, I know, no need to replace one cancer with another. But again I state, I don’t think Bonds would be much of a cancer for the final two months. Little did I know that Theo could bring back a good player like Jason Bay, because at the time when discussions were with the Florida Marlins, I was under the impression that Theo would just obtain some more prospects to deepen the aready deep Farm system, and all but give away the current season.
But the thing about Bonds is that if he does wrong, if he becomes a distraction, then the team could simply tell him to walk. There are no long term repercussions, there are no financial obligations that would matter to a ballclub, whatever ballclub, with so much money. And for a team like the New York Mets, rather than entertaining the likes of acquiring a player like Raul Ibanez, could have had Barry Bonds for free.
I mean maybe I am in the minority here, maybe some will call me crazy thinking that Bonds could stay under control of his gigantic, selfish ego, more selfish than that of most. But I am a believer that Barry Bonds would want to play a few months, and walk away from the game feeling a little better about what just happened, what just transpired. Call me crazy, call me whatever, these are just my views.