Check out this Barry Bonds impersonator outside the Giants’ spring training dugout.
He’s got the same California king-sized noggin as Bonds, and the same puffy-chest walk. The jaw is a match, and so is that pitchy voice.
But, we know better. This stunt double lost us with that smile and hello.
“Hey guys,” Bonds said with a semi-toothy facial expression as he walked by a crowd during batting practice this past week.
Barry, is that you?
What happened to the surly owner of three locker spaces who kept the No. 25 stitching on his back turned to his teammates? Where is that familiar death snarl reserved for reporters, Dodgers and more reporters?
“Mr. Bonds, can we please get your autograph?”
“In a minute,” Bonds told a few kids before ducking into the locker-room bunker at Scottsdale Stadium.
See? That’s the Bonds we all know and fear. Blowing off Sharpie-wielding children, ignoring old ladies as they crossed the street, telling reporters they can go fall off a loading dock …
“OK, I’m back. How’s it going?” Bonds said 2 minutes later, and there’s that unnerving smiley thing again.
Sweet mother of Willie Mays, what is going on with this version of Barry Lamar Bonds?
Bonds came back out and handed out free signatures. When other kids asked for an autograph, he gave an explanation why he couldn’t at that time.
The Bonds we know doesn’t explain himself to anybody. The Bonds we dealt with made no apologies to anybody about anything.
The Giants brought back Bonds this past week to serve as a special instructor at spring training. The team announced he’d stay on as an ambassador after serving 10 years in a timeout from the organization.
“It’s my home,” Bonds said in a relaxed, legs-crossed pose from the dugout. “I want to be back home.”
Sweet mother of Willie Mays, what is going on with Barry Lamar Bonds?
238 votes for Barry Bonds in the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting – 332 were needed for election
The statistical home run king should be bitter that Baseball Hall of Fame voters keep turning him back at the security gate. He’s been retired for 10 years; isn’t this the age he should be yelling at media to stay off his lawn?
An ambassador for the Giants? What are they hoping to do, start another Pacific Theater war?
“I really feel this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
This is just going to drive you non-Giants fans through the ceiling fan.
Bonds always made it so easy for you to sports-hate him. He was great enough to undivide your attention, jerk enough to loathe, and arrogant enough to merit all of your contempt.
Throw in some steroid allegations here, with a little federal perjury charge on top, and Bonds made it Sunday-morning easy to yell at him with all your throat.
What are you going to do now? Tell your kids to not let the nice retiree sign their baseball?
Maybe you think this is a second-act ploy to woo his way into Cooperstown. Perhaps you think he’s just an old person trying to get into heaven after it’s too late.
132 walks for Bonds in his final major league season, 2007, a year in which at age 43 he hit 28 homers in 340 at-bats and posted a 1.045 OPS.
Know what we see?
An old ballplayer who finally realizes he needs the game more than the game needs him. We see someone who thought he was indispensable to the Giants organization and fan throng, only to watch them win three World Series without him.
Barry being Barry only worked when Barry hit like Barry. This new Barry just might help someone other than himself to swing like himself.
Barry Bonds, Mr. Nice Guy. That, we can handle.
1. You’ve got to get to spring training once in your fandom life. Grab a few baseballs during batting practice. See the look on your kids’ faces when some random Angels minor-leaguer hands them a baseball bat after the game for no reason in particular. Once you muscle past the $75 price for a bleacher seat, you’ll have the week of your life.
2. Xavier, Gonzaga, whichever. It’s nice knowing one of those men’s basketball programs will keep the Final Four from being the Same Four as always. Go, anyone but North Carolina/Kentucky/So On!
3. Trying to get into the women’s basketball tournament, but it’s really hard when you know none of these games matter because they are all going to lose by 30 to Connecticut at some point or another.