ESPN’s Jayson Stark is trying to answer the question as to why Barry Bonds is unemployed this baseball season and comes back with fairly standard boilerplate from anonymous execs who don’t want to be named. I admire the effort, but here are the three reasons, knocked down into bullet points:
- Can’t really play defense much with the bad knees, so NL teams won’t sign him
- Could be indicted during the season
- Entourage, press attention is too much for teams to handle
The first one is one I understand and get — if this guy had to take an everyday spot in your line-up as a defensive player, you’d think twice about it. What I’m not sure about is whether an AL team’s GM wouldn’t give Bonds at least a heavily incentive-laden contract offer for one year and see what they can get out of them. Entourage concerns, I can see somewhat — although these things are always made out to be worse than they actually are. But as for the media hordes?
That’s really a stupid reason, because it validates media mistreatment and rush to judgment on Bonds — whereas Roger Clemens, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, and Paul Byrd, among others, have largely been let off the hook (and the latter three are on rosters right now and playing.) The attention lathered on Bonds as the continued scapegoat for all of the Steroid Era and its aftermath is media-generated; fed every day he plays to get an easy story. Clemens got hounded hard for a month or two, and now the whole mess has backed off.
Ankiel, Glaus, Byrd, Scott Schoeneweis, all largely left alone now — and still employed, they are not “media distractions” because the media is done with them, they’ve apologized for them and brushed them off. But Bonds is a media circus because the media wants to make a circus of him — he cannot simply just go and play the game any longer for any team that will have his services.