Spring training is in full swing and most baseball writers know what that means. It essentially means trying to find worthwhile information about their beats, in what is essentially a month-long practice, filled with useless information and statistics.
Most writers admirably fill the pages of their newspaper by digging for stories about hot prospects fighting to make the big league club or maybe stories about veterans trying to bounce back from a tough season.
But for everybody’s favorite moral compass, ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski, it means piling on Barry Bonds – who left baseball never to return in 2007 – because he was a miserable prick during his time with the Giants.
I would summarize Wojciechowski’s idiocy, but I think I would actually be doing Gene a disservice. So instead I will let him handle the idiocy, and I will cherry-pick his most idiotic parts so that I can make myself feel better.
Giants thriving in post-Barry Bonds era
Do you think it is worth telling Gene that there have been three baseball seasons played since Bonds retired and that the Giants have made the playoffs in just one of those seasons? Nah, let’s just move on.
Barry Bonds helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series last season. And he could help them win it again this season.
Barry Bonds doesn’t actually play for the us anymore. In fact, he hasn't played for us since 2007. Our point is that it is more than a little insulting to those of us who actually played in the games that you infer our World Series victory is a direct result of Barry Bonds' absence. Maybe, just maybe, if Bonds had left before last season, you could convince really stupid baseball fans that his departure allowed the Giants to play better baseball. But Bonds retired fucking THREE seasons ago. It also seems kind of counter-intuitive that you are trying to pillory Bonds while simultaneously giving him a completely unreasonable amount of credit for our World Series' victory. We are not happy, but Lincecum got us all stoned and we are too high to come to your mother's basement and kick your ass. Nice glasses. Dick
Your 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants
When Bonds and his toxic presence was finally removed…
In the interest of nit-picky grammatical fixes, that sentence should read “Bonds and his toxic presence were finally removed…” but I will look past that understandable mistake as long as you proceed to make sound baseball arguments using statistics and facts.
…by the hazmat people after the 2007 season, the Giants began to win more games. Not a lot at first, but enough to realize that Bonds' forced departure was like an emergency tracheotomy on the franchise's windpipe. The Giants could finally breathe again.
You know you are an excellent national columnist when you can barely write three paragraphs without making smart baseball people want to euthanize themselves.
In 2008, the year after Bonds left, the Giants went 72-90. That was one game better than the 71-91 mark the team had posted in Bonds’ last season. For most, that is a completely negligible difference. For Gene, it is “enough to realize that Bonds' forced departure was like an emergency tracheotomy on the franchise's windpipe”.
Another sign you are an excellent national columnist?
Compare a baseball-playing jerk’s retirement to an emergency surgical procedure often performed on people with tumors. No over-dramatization there. Let’s move along.
Lincecum isn't saying that Bonds' exit is partly why the Giants are world champions today; I am.
Boom! That right there is an excellent example of how a national columnist shows he has huge balls of steel while simultaneously telling his readers he knows more about baseball than a guy who plays the sport for a living and even played on the same team as Barry Bonds. Gene clearly brought his A-game.
But he is saying team chemistry matters in ways that can't be quantified from reading a box score. After all, it's hard to win games when you're dragging around a cinder block or two of Bonds-related drama.
Let me summarize Lincecum’s long and rather cliché quote for those who don’t want to read the actual column. “When I first got here, the veterans, led by Barry Bonds, were real dicks. Now the younger guys have been able to open up more. You know, burn down a few doobies, talk about how gross it was when that fat chick can squished bread under her toes on Tosh.O.”
Okay, so I made the last sentence up. But Lincecum isn’t talking about how team chemistry helped them win games. He is just talking about how the locker room isn’t filled with as many assholes. Also I am pretty sure no one else had to drag Bonds’ drama around. I imagine Barry had to do a lot of the dragging himself.
Bonds hit lots of home runs (thank you, flaxseed oil!), but nobody ever voted him teammate of the year.
This is a terrific example of Gene realizing that Bonds was actually super good at baseball, then turning it around on him because Bonds didn’t run around the locker room high-fiving people.
Yes, Bonds hit a lot of home runs, likely while using steroids. But from 2001, he also led the league in on-base percentage every season he played in, never hit less than .270, and never OPS’d less than .999. He won four consecutive MVP awards from 2001 to 2004 and was also worth at least 10 wins more than a replacement level player during that time as well.
In fact, some might say that, even though he was using steroids, there has never been a player in the history of the game who had a better offensive season than Bonds’ had in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Even after injuries and old age slowed him down, he was still reached base nearly half the times he was at-bat and had an OPS+ of 174, 156, and 169 respectively.
Of course, as Nike once taught us, “Chicks (and Gene Wojciechowski) dig the long ball”. Other advanced and telling metrics don’t mean shit because hearing that Barry Bonds had an OBP of .480 in his final season of baseball doesn’t make Gene’s dick hard.
He represented the Giants' old guard -- and the old guard won just 71 games and finished last in the NL West in Bonds' final season in the majors.
Gene would have us believe that the reason the Giants only won 71 games is because Barry Bonds and the rest of the “old guard” were soul-sucking, fun-hating, teammate-beating, assholes.
Proven statistics and calculations would have you believe that the 2007 Giants were among the shittiest of shit teams in all of baseball.
Only one player (Randy Winn) other than Bonds had OPS+ above the league average. Bonds was the only player with an OPS higher than .800. No one in their starting lineup was younger than 32. Their best two starters were Barry Zito and Noah Lowry. Their closer was Brad fucking Hennessey.
I could go on but I think the point has been made. GM Brian Sabean constructed an incredibly shitty team in 2007. Then, as Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez got more experience, and Sabean slowly phased out his oldest and shittiest players in exchange for younger and better plays, the Giants got better.
Hey I got an idea for a column!
A season ago, they won the division on the final day to squeeze into the playoffs, and then overpowered the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies and eventually the Texas Rangers. They did it with power pitching, timely hitting…
Woah! I wasn’t expecting that. I knew that pitching and timely hitting were what helped the Giants win it all, but I thought Gene would talk about how Barry’s evil aura was gone so the Giants could be cool and carefree ag-..
…and a cool, carefree clubhouse vibe that never would have been possible in the Barry era
We need to have an editorial pause here as I explain what Gene is about to do now. After at least circumstantially discussing actual baseball factoids in the first half of his Bonds’ takedown, Gene decided that wasn’t enough hard evidence.
So Gene decided to take a casual stroll through the Giants’ spring training locker room, spending more than an hour playing “I-Spy”, or as it is more commonly referred to, “National columnist makes first trip to locker room in years and proceeds to wildly overreact and read too far into shit that probably happens in every baseball clubhouse everywhere.”
Let's dive right in.
Postseason hero Cody Ross happily tell a reporter that he can't walk down a San Francisco block without being recognized. "And that's a good thing,'' the Giants outfielder said.”That's what you want. That's what you dream of as a kid.'' Just then, a teammate walked by and, without breaking stride, began singing, in a surprisingly decent Steven Tyler imitation, "Dream on … Dream on …''
It should also be noted that Gene is so fucking serious about breaking down the reasons Barry Bonds is an asshole that he is using bullet points now.
Here is Gene witnessing ultimate nice guy, Cody Ross, turning into a self-absorbed asshole by reveling in the attention he has received since becoming a star.
Oh I almost forgot! Gene also witnessed an unknown teammate who can walk and sing “surprisingly decent” at the same time.
Can’t you just imagine Gene thinking back to 2007 when Cody Ross wasn’t even on the Giants and the only one allowed to sing Aerosmith and not break stride at the same time was Barry Bonds.
Veteran outfielder Pat Burrell work almost the entire room, cracking wise with a dozen teammates as he collected money in an old bank pouch.
This is an example of citizen journalism trumping national columnizing. Everybody from Philadelphia to Tampa Bay to San Francisco knows that Pat Burrell is a renowned asshole. Girls in Philadelphia and San Francisco all have stories about one of their friends leaving to have sex with Pat “The Bat” and learning that his idea of foreplay is standing in front of a mirror, stark naked, practicing his batting stance.
Gene either willfully ignored all of these stories, or he is completely oblivious to the internet and has never read any of the thousands of sordid stories about Pat Burrell and his sexual escapades.
Just google "Pat Burrell sex" and you get this. These types of stories are EVERYWHERE. But I appreciate Gene's desire to see things for himself...and then make immediate value judgments that lead to retarded theories about why the Giants won the World Series.
Essentially what Gene saw is a douchebag player making jokes with teammates while collecting money for some unknown prostitute gangbang or Roman orgy.
Reliever Brian Wilson, who showed up at the first day of camp in a cop car, search the entire clubhouse for a blank USA Today crossword puzzle.
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the point in the column where Gene realizes he has written a shitty column, but also knows he can’t backtrack and start all over, so he just starts pointing shit out he sees, like Brick in Anchorman.
Most important fact in this bullet point: USA Today is not a popular newspaper in baseball locker rooms.
Second most important fact in this bullet point: Barry Bonds fucking hates crossword puzzles.
Younger and older players squeezed around a table playing cards and dominoes.
Nothing says "Repeat Champs" to Gene quite like a friendly game. I have never visited a professional locker room or been on any team-chartered flight in any sport, so I may be wrong. But I am confident in saying that cards and dominoes are played by pretty much every professional athlete in every sport.
There is a lot of downtime and travel with professional sports, so people play cards. The game is also played by regular kids, regular adults and criminals. In fact criminals might spend more hours playing those games in prison than athletes do.
But you know who hates cards and dominoes? Barry Bonds.
I can’t wait for the next Michael Lewis book about how a national columnist becomes a baseball GM and is fired three years later when his strategy of having team practices replaced by long games of RISK failed to pan out.
Bonds' godfather, Willie Mays, a frequent visitor, hanging out in the clubhouse
Each time I read one of these bullets I thought there was no way he could get any dumber. But then he typed this sentence, and thought it was a salient point.
You know who else visits the Giants’ clubhouse to chat with players and even hang out with Willie Mays? Fucking Barry Bonds!
You know who visited the locker room as recently as last year's playoffs? Fucking Barry Bonds!
Let’s skip Gene’s next sappy story about Aubrey Huff and his budding bromance with a reporter and just skip down some because I am getting bored.
Fun is partly why the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. And fun is partly why they could repeat.
It can be argued that the Giants won their first World Series in a long time because their pitching staff logged 44 innings against the Rangers and only allowed 12 earned runs. It could also be because Edgar Renteria had seven hits in 17 at-bats. It is decidedly NOT because the Giants were having more fun than the Rangers.
There is more stupidity. But I am at work and it’s not worth over-analyzing. Go fuck yourself Wojciechowski.