Voodoo Sabermetrics reminds us that our love for the team includes our love of individual players. We usually have a favorite superstar hitter or pitcher or both. But what about those guys that you just… like (or hate)? Maybe someone who pinch hits or steals a base now and then. Maybe an aging vet who is like an extra coach in the dugout. Rather than judge everyone by their stats, we’re going to use unique categories and scoring methods to check out baseball’s characters.
Our High Voodoo Council are:
Jack Cobra from The Cobra Brigade Neighbor Quotient and Scrappiness
Texas Gal from Ladies… Hottness and Behavior
The Goldfish Cowboy and eDayStat from A Pudge is a Sandwich Clutchness
Adam from Bugs & Cranks Atomic Number and Exposure
Sooze from Babes Love Baseball Jollyness
TC from Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism Appearance and Quotability
Extra P. from The Extrapolater Name Quality (including nicknames)
This day had to come. How could we call ourselves professionals (OK, really dedicated amateurs) if we didn’t talk about this guy, now that he’s on the doorstep of baseball’s most hallowed record? It had to be done. TC, ever the contrarian, seems to actually like him. But what I’ve done to Texas Gal is borderline criminal. We pushed her out of the car for Cole Hamels, and then ushered her back aboard for this guy. To quote Joseph Welch from the Army-McCarthy hearings: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”.
Well, I guess I don’t. See what he’s done to American society?
Meet Barry *shudder* Bonds
Name: Barry Lamar Bonds. With the middle name included, it kind of sucks, but when I was a kid, I kind of liked hearing “Barry Bonds”. It had a nice alliteration to it, especially when he and Bobby Bonilla were teammates. Back then, he still wasn’t likeable, but he hadn’t tipped the scale over to “flaming asshole” just yet.
Barry doesn’t really have a nickname, in my opinion. Sports nicknames are usually bestowed via clubhouse cameraderie, or public admiration, and Barry has intentionally and firmly closed himself off from both sources of appreciation. We hear derisive references like “BALCO Barry”, “Barroid”, and “Big Head”, but none of those will appear on his Cooperstown plaque, assuming he ever gets one. My current favorite is Sooze’s sobriquet for the man – Barry Lamar Cheaterface.
I guess I have to give him credit for the alliteration, but that’s it.
2 out of 10.
Atomic Number: Barry’s atomic number is 5, which if you’re scoring at home, used to be the number for Boron. Now it just called Barroid, which is coincidentally a metalloid that expands over time when bonded with cream (Cr) and clear (Cl). It’s highly reactive, especially to media criticism, and is generally seem as a combustible substance.
In its most elemental form, Barriod begins small, quick and dangerous. Combined with Jealousy (Je), Barriod is strongly attracted to Cr and Cl, which causes dramatic physical changes most notably the growth of the cranium and feet. Oh, and your balls shrivel up like raisins.
I had never heard of this guy, but that’s because I only know about baseball through video games. The Giants have had some really awesome hitters like John Dowd, Wes Mailman, Joe Young, Dean Gibeau, and Reggie Stocker, but no Barry Bonds. Plus, those guys looked nothing like him.
Besides, Barry is waaaaay bigger than the players’ association , so why would he need to be involved in a half-ass operation like that? How could you capture all of his awesomeness on one baseball card or in one video game, or in any other officially licensed deal? Just not possible. Thankfully, though, he’ll finally get some exposure now that he’s stopped hiding from ESPN and they’ll cover every single at-bat until he either hits three home runs or his face caves in and he decides to host a late night horror show.
Bonds may have been related to some other major leaguers, but I knew him as Bobby Bonds, Jr.’s brother. I was fortunate enough to see BBJ play for the Waterloo (IA) Diamonds growing up and he’s still the only guy I’ve personally witnessed striking out 5 times in a game. A low A-ball game. And he was in his mid- 20s. Now he’s a forklift driver, which hopefully he’s better at. But back to BBJ’s brother.
Apparently it’s in vogue to write books about how Barry Bonds isn’t a very nice guy. Well that doesn’t seem very sporting, does it, kettle? For anyone that watched ESPN from say, 2001-2003, you might remember you couldn’t turn it on without some talking head giving Bonds a verbal BJ. But Bonds’ real exposure didn’t come until the steroids scandal began to unfold. People needed a villain, and no one filled that role better than Barry. Let’s just hope that Barry doesn’t follow his mistress into the realm of actual exposure.
Neighbor Quotient: I firmly believe that living next to ‘The Left Fielder from San Francisco’ would be very similar to living next to a Meth dealer. You know that he’s doing something illegal next door, but it’s being done in his basement so it will be hard to prove. Every time you talk to him he has the ‘crazy look’ in his eye, which makes you stop from confronting him. Still, you want to kick the living shit out of him every single day, especially since there are little kids around the neighborhood…..-4390 out of 10
Scrappiness: If ‘The Left Fielder from San Francisco’ died tomorrow I have to believe my life would change very little. Because his Father was MLB player, I have to believe he rarely had to work to hard to get ahead in life. While he somehow found a way to cheat his way into the record books, I still don’t consider that scrappy. In my opinion, the only time he’s been close to being scrappy in the last decade is when he was in that dugout altercation with Jeff Kent a few years back…..-86390 out of 10
Try as we might, all attempts to contact Texas Gal resulted in dead ends. Then we received the following teletype transmission in the wee hours of the morning (yes, I labor over my telegraph device long into the night, monitoring the status of the system of tubes. Isn’t technology wonderful?), marked as originating in “Crazytown”:
BARRY BONDS IS NOT HOT. STOP. ATTEMPTED TO CONTEMPLATE SAID HOTNESS IN RELATION TO BONDS- RESULTED IN BEING DRIVEN TO MADNESS. STOP. ATTEMPT SAME AT YOUR OWN PERIL. STOP. REQUEST NON-BASTARD HOTTIE FOR NEXT VOODOO ANALYSIS SO THAT I MIGHT RECOVER. STOP. HAVE MERCY. PLEASE STOP. STOP.
My numerical scores will correlate to the alcohol contents of various beers. In case you care, here’s the scoring system.
Quotability. Barry comes off like an asshole, like a snake oil salesman, like a shyster, and and like an intelligent, genuine, charming guy, all at the same time. Barry does say what he thinks, though, at any moment. And his thoughts have been twisted and complex enough to warrant a lot of interest over the years. Willie Mays probably gets talked about a lot more now than he did a few years ago because of Barry’s frequent adulation for his godfather. Frank Robinson, too. And all that stuff is great. But I want to concentrate on one, oft overlooked Barry-quote: ” Thursday morning I went to see Star Wars Episode III and I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie.” Now, I saw Episode III in the theaters, twice. But I’m what you’d call a “fanboy” and I’m compulsively obliged to see Star Wars movies. But Episode III features the following lines:
Padme: Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo, so long ago when there was nothing but our love.
Anakin: Love won’t save you, Padme! Only my new powers can do that!
Obi-Wan (to Anakin): Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
I find the third one there especially funny. I mean, Star Wars Episode III is one of the most enjoyably terrible movies in recent cinema. And Barry likes it? Well, that’s okay by me. Barry, have yourself a Victory V-12.
Addendum to Quotability: Since the writing of the above section, Barry Bonds referred to Bob Costas–an arrogant “announcer” who stopped announcing non-Olympic sporting events a decade ago–as a “little midget man” who doesn’t know anything about baseball. This comes on the heels of an episode of Costas show, Costas Now, in which Bonds was lambasted. As the expression goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, and though Costas is not my enemy, exactly, “He who hates what I hate, can have an extra Voodoo Sabermetrics beer on me”. Way to go, Barry.
Appearance. The easy thing to talk about, regarding the appearance of Barry Bonds, is merely how he was so much cooler as a Pirate, with a moustache, than as a Giant, with a bloated, hairless dome. In the 1980 and most of the 1990s, Barry had a lean athletic look, an earring dangling off one lobe, and a strong, neat, moustache responsible for hitting doubles all over the place. Yeah, Little Barry was a sweet looking human.
But I’d rather talk about Big Barry. I’d like to tell you, briefly, my favorite Barry Bonds moment, ever. No, it’s not when he dressed up as Paula Abdul.
In the fall of 2002, I was a freshman in college. My hall–all dudes–was conveniently obsessed with baseball, and so we gathered in our RA’s room to watch most of the playoff games. My roommate–a diehard (and somehow lovable) Red Sox fan–was so overjoyed when the Angels defeated the Yankees, he ran through our small campus in a Speedo and giant rainbow, afro-wig, screaming. Such was his enthusiasm, that the rest of the hall, with no particular rooting interest, developed a minor fandom for the Anaheim Angels, in particular, their wild-eyed closer, Troy Percival. Troy, of course, was never clean-shaven, his clothes hung loosely from his frame, his hat was muffed and hung off his head. He was a relic. But, he also threw 95mph, and the Twins couldn’t touch him in the ALCS.
So, we come to the World Series, Game 2, after the Giant took the first game. The Angels held a two run lead going into the ninth, and Barry is scheduled to hit 3rd. Percival, looking hungover on the mound, induces a couple of sissy flyouts, and so, with no one one, two outs, and a two run lead, Barry Bonds stepped to the plate. Barry looked enormous. He hit 73 home runs the year before. In 2002, more than half his hits were for extra bases, even though Barry couldn’t run. Everything, for a moment that didn’t really matter, stopped.
He was the single most intimating presence I have ever seen in any sport. Pedro Martinez in the late 1990s, when people were lucky just to make contact wasn’t like this. Tiger Woods, a stroke back of the leader on a Sunday during a major, wasn’t like this. Ray Lewis, having been charged with murder, was like that while staring down a QB before the snap. Maybe, maybe, Michael Jordan, with the game on the line, seemed so imposing. But basketball isn’t such a game of moments. There are so many pauses when all the air gets sucked from an outdoor structure just because a guy who was better at his job than all the other guys who ever held his job before. Some idiot in the room, who probably blogs about athletes and offers them beers based on their appearance, remarked, “Troy’s got Barry here.” Naturally, just moments later, Barry hit a home run so far he was rounding second base when it landed.
Barry, you’re not a handsome man, and I imagine 12 years ago, you’d score much higher on the Hotness scale than you do now, but, in appearance, there’s been no one quite as imposing, terrifying, or memorable as you. A Utopias, for you. Enjoy it.
The attitude of Barry Bonds is a complex issue. There’s a formula which has to be precisely followed in order to induce any signs of jolliness in Barry, which include but are not limited to: smiling, chuckling and/or joking around.
First, Barry has to be on his home field. Second, there must be no sign of the media, hot dog vendors or rain. Third, you must never mention steroids, Hank Aaron or Jeff Kent.
All in all, Bonds is one of the most-unjolly players in the game. Actually, he was voted the unfriendliest by players in a SI.com poll this past May. Shocking, I know! I’ll give Barry a Walter Matthau as Coach Buttermaker on the jollity scale. And that’s me being generous.
eDayStat: I don’t think any conversation on Bonds should begin without mentioning his most significant trait. The man’s middle name is Lamar.
TheGoldfishCowboy: Well you know I have a fondness for Lamars. Lamar Alexander was a former president at the University of Tennessee.
eDay: I wouldn’t even let Bonds be president of GNC. But I’ll let that one hang. What we’re here to talk about is BB’s clutchness.
TGC: That reminds me of a time when I was having my clutch repaired and Bonds had blown a tranny. But that’s probably a story for a different time and place. The people really want to know about Bond’s baseball clutchness.
eDay: The only thing clutch about Bonds is what he does to those man-boobs he’s developed from years of needle abuse.
TGC: I don’t really mind the steroid abuse, but the guy is just a dick.
eDay: No actually Richard Bonds is a boxer from Ripley, Tennessee. But in my opinion clutch ratings are a comparitive study. You can compare to the best, but I’d like to compare Bonds to A-Rod because everyone sees him as a horrific clutch player.
TGC: I know I definately think Bonds is a bigger dick than A-Rod.
eDay: Point taken, but A-Rod always gets hammered because of his playoff results. Bonds hits .245 in the playoffs and only .194 in 13 All-Star appearances. A-Rod hits .280 in the playoffs and a shade over .290 in the mid-season classic. Both players have been in the playoffs and All-Star game enough to make those numbers statistically significant.
TGC: How could you even measure how clutch Bonds is when he’s played on a 75 win team most of his career?
eDay: Agreed, in 22 seasons he’s only been to the playoffs 7 times. A-rod has been in the playoffs 6 times in 14 seasons. He’s also hit over .300 4 times in a plaoff series. That’s something Bonds only did once. TGC, what do you think?
TGC: What was that? I wasn’t paying attention.
(editor’s note: for more great sports banter, tune in to the Super Monday podcast every Monday night at 9pm ET. You can also hear archived casts, including the Extrapolater guest shot from last week.)
Ordinarily, I (Extra P.) write the postscript, or “coda”, if you will, for each Voodoo Sabermetrics. But during our email exchanges about Mr. Bonds, TC came up with a spectacular conspiracy theory that I believe trumps anything I could have written. Take it away, TC:
Has anyone else noticed that, cranially speaking, Billy Joel and Barry Bonds have aged very similarly?
I mean, is Billy on steroids? Or is Barry on softrock? The progression is uncannily similar. You can even find pictures from their middle stages of cranium enlargement with Billy circa ‘Storm Front’ and Barry right when he was making the move from Pittsburgh to San Francisco.
Oddly, entertainment value runs a similar course. Figure, years 1 through 6 for both included some impressive stuff, but not overwhelming adoration. Years 7 through 16 brought on possible Hall of Fame comparisons (Gold Gloves and homers for Barry, Gold Albums and Grammys for Billy).
16 through the present brought on immense entertainment through new means for both guys. Barry started walking 200 times a year and hitting millions of home runs while being booed everywhere he went. Billy drank enough to trash his voice, and toured so he could pay his drunk driving fines. Great stuff.
Great Stuff indeed! Thanks to everyone for helping kick a man while he’s undeservedly on top of the world!
Read past issues of Voodoo Sabermetrics here.