“Bonds on Bonds” Revisited

The only thing worse than days without baseball during the regular season are days without baseball during the playoffs. As usual, the best remedy for baseball-less boredom is actually just more baseball; often in the form of Baseball-Reference Play Indexing and ridiculous Barry Bonds stats. As if I haven’t written about Bonds enough, I decided to turn (mostly) away from the statistical side of Barry Bonds and look back into the person he was in his playing days. One of the more interesting looks into Bonds’ life was the short-lived ESPN reality series, “Bonds on Bonds”, which aired during the latter half of the 2006 season, Bonds’ penultimate season in San Francisco. This series is certainly hard to track down, but some unclear portion of it is indeed on YouTube (embedded above) for your viewing pleasure/displeasure. While I definitely recommend watching the whole thing, here are some of the highlights:

1) At 17:30 – Bonds on his defense:

“There was always a cardinal rule: if I ain’t gettin’ no hits, you ain’t gettin’ no hits.”

I very much doubt Bonds was the first one to employ this mantra, but he carried it out better than most, especially over the first half of his career. For example:

2) At 19:21 – Bonds on his time at Arizona State University:

“I always tell everybody my major was MLB. That’s what I mastered at. I think the rest of it was just a waste of time…but I did major in criminal justice and um…I never went that far.”

There is a very, VERY small part of me that wishes Bonds pursued his major further and became some sort of state trooper or prison warden.

3) At 24:17 – Bonds on the value of his home run balls at that stage of his career:

“A home run has become a lottery ticket. You have the opportunity to better somebody’s life by hitting a home run. To me, that’s satisfying. ‘Thank you Barry Bonds, goodbye!’ You are welcome *laughs*.”

Bonds was at the point in his career where every home run he hit was worth serious money. Sure, the bundled-up fans sitting in their canoes in McCovey Cove looked crazy but they were simply waiting for a legitimately lucrative baseball to come falling from the sky into the freezing waters beneath them. I can’t totally blame them. It’s also pretty awesome how much Bonds enjoyed hitting those magical lottery tickets.

4) At 37:00 – Jimmy Rollins on Barry Bonds:

“I remember how I felt when I was younger just seeing the name ‘Bonds’ across his back. And I was like, ‘Bonds’…that’s one hell of a name.”

Same.

5) At 38:47 – Bonds on chasing records:

“I didn’t have to hit the home runs. I didn’t have to do a lot of things I do. I didn’t have to. I had that choice. But I chose that I wanted to be like Willie [Mays], and I wanted to be like Hank Aaron, and I wanted to be like Babe Ruth.”

Sure, Bonds had more natural baseball talent than 98% of the players that came before, during, and after his time. But it’s easy to point to countless immensely talented players that never really produced the way we hoped they could. From premier prospects that flamed out before even reaching the big leagues to decent major leaguers that never quite turned into the superstars that we expected, there are so many examples of raw talent failing to reach its full potential. Bonds understood the talent he possessed and did everything in his power to assure it was not wasted. As former manager Jim Leyland said, despite already being the best, Bonds worked harder than anyone to get the most out of his natural abilities. He was fully committed to becoming the best player he could be, which turned out to one of, if not the greatest player of all time.

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My 25 Favorite Barry Bonds Facts

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 About six months ago, I wrote a piece for Michael Clair’s annual blogathon to raise money for Doctors Without Borders titled “25 Greatest Barry Bonds Facts”. To this day, it remains my favorite thing I’ve written, and it’s a collection of statistical absurdities that I’m very proud of.

Today is Barry Lamar Bonds’ 50th birthday. In honor of this special day, I’ve updated all the statistics in my original list and brought it back here to CFBBQ. As many of you know, we here at the BBQ absolutely love everything that Bonds did for baseball. He is quite clearly the greatest hitter in the history of the game, and still remains remarkably under-appreciated a mere seven years after his final season with the Giants.

I’d like to think I’ve played a tiny, tiny part in the slow progression towards a full-blown mainstream appreciation for the incredible things that Bonds did on the baseball field. There have been sporadic “Barry Bonds Crazy Fun Facts” posts over the years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. Barry’s birthday has already spawned a few more of these wonderful collections earlier today, most notably Tim Marchman’s over at Deadspin.

Certain Bonds facts resonate more with certain people, for whatever reasons. These 25 have remained my favorite, but there is a decent chance I’ll have 25 new favorites by this time next year. The career of Barry Bonds is an infinite gold mine of mind-blowing statistical miracles; there’s a favorite Bonds fact for each and every one of us.

Without further ado, here they are. My 25 favorite Barry Bonds facts.

(all numbers as of 7/23/15)

25. For his career, Barry Bonds was 0-3 with 3 K’s against Rick Ankiel

…and it was all in one game. June 20th, 2000. In his first plate appearance against the then 20-YEAR-OLD Ankiel, Bonds worked Ankiel to a full count before striking out swinging. In his second plate appearance, Ankiel struck him out swinging on three pitches. In his third and final plate appearance against, again, RICK ANKIEL, Barry Bonds struck out looking on three pitches. They would never face each other again. Rick Ankiel is one of two pitchers to have faced Barry Bonds four times or less and strike him out three times. The other one is Bartolo Colon. Bonds also only faced Bartolo for one game; June 12th, 2003 against the White Sox. First AB: strikeout swinging. Second AB: strikeout swinging. Third AB: strikeout swinging. Fourth AB: home run to take the lead in the top of the ninth inning.

24. Craig Biggio drove in 1,175 runs in his 20 year career. Barry Bonds’ home runs alone drove in 1,174 runs.

It’s almost like Barry Bonds hit a lot of home runs or something.

23. 2001-2004 fWAR (FanGraphs’ version of WAR):

  • Barry Bonds: 46.6 fWAR
  • New York Mets: 46.6 fWAR
  • Milwaukee Brewers: 45.3 fWAR
  • Kansas City Royals: 31.0 fWAR
  • Detroit Tigers: 30.9 fWAR
  • Montreal Expos: 30.7 fWAR

2001-2004 was a fun time for Mr. Bonds, and this list makes that very clear. The level at which he was dominating baseball will probably never be seen again. Barry Bonds drew 120 intentional walks in 2004 alone. Speaking of intentional walks…

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Ben Revere Makes Baseball History

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During Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers, Ben Revere bunted. It didn’t seem like anything particularly special; Ben Revere bunts all the time. He even bunts in the shower. What made that moment special was that it was the 1,409th plate appearance of Revere’s career, which was also his 1,409th consecutive plate appearance without a home run. With that seemingly innocuous bunt against Martin Perez, Revere broke Tim Johnson’s expansion era record for the most plate appearances in a career for a position player without a home run. In the grand scheme of things, this means absolutely nothing. This achievement will not be celebrated. It will not be talked about at whatever office water cooler you frequent. His bat will not be sent to the Hall of Fame for eternal enshrinement. Skip Bayless will not yell mercilessly into space at no one in particular about how Ben Revere is the greatest of all time. None of these things will happen. But that doesn’t mean Ben Revere isn’t an American hero.

Revere debuted in the big leagues on September 7th, 2010. Since that day Miguel Cabrera has hit 123 home runs, Travis Wood has hit 5, and Munenori Kawasaki has one lonely dinger. Since that day Barry Bonds has slashed .321/.491/.812 with 451 home runs. Whether due to a lack of strength, a swing not suited for loft, or an unwarranted fear of recreating The Sandlot, Revere has kept the ball in the yard for every single one of his 1,409 career plate appearances.

While Revere currently holds the record for most PA’s without a HR, his reign could end suddenly with a single swing. Many before him have overtaken Johnson’s record only to see their title disappear as they launched a dinger or two into the crowd before calling it quits. The three players with the most PA’s into their career without a homer in the expansion era were:

3.) Larry Bowa: 1,744 PA’s without a home run.

2.) Frank Taveras: 1,779 PA’s without a home run.

1.) Greg Gross: 1,890 PA’s without a home run.

1,890 PA’s is a lot of times to walk up to the plate with a wood stick and not use that wood stick to place a ball in the stands. Gross wasn’t even a bad player, putting up almost 10 WAR before he ever hit a home run. His first dinger came on 7/6/77, one day away from biblical immortality, against the Expos at Wrigley Field. It was a joyous day for Greg, the Gross family, and the entire city of Chicago.

If what Greg Gross did was impressive in some sort of weird way, then what Frank Taveras accomplished was much more impressive-er than Gross’ grossness. Taveras’ first home run came almost a month after Gross hit his first on 8/5/77. While Gross was able to hit his first dinger over an actual fence, Taveras had to settle for an inside-the-park home run. Such a novelty officially counts as a home run, but who the hell cares, I want to know when a player hit a ball over the wall. So then when was Taveras’ first over-the-fence-ball? The answer: 1,437 PLATE APPEARANCES LATER. WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWINGLY INSANE.

Newspaper Clipping From The Day Taveras Hit His First Over-The-Fence-Ball

Newspaper Clipping From The Day Taveras Hit His First Over-The-Fence-Ball

IT TOOK FRANK TAVERAS 3,216 PLATE APPEARANCES TO HIT A HOME RUN OVER THE FENCE. During one stretch in his career, Barry Bonds hit 275 home runs in 3,216 plate appearances. It took Taveras that long to hit just one. One dinger. One measly little over-the-fence ball. After over 800 career games, Taveras finally sent one to the peons in the bleachers on August 18th, 1979.

What Ben Revere has done, or really, what he hasn’t been able to do, is pretty astounding compared to the rest of baseball history. But if you look at what Ben Revere has done compared to what Frank  Taveras did, Revere looks like Barry Bonds on steroids ;). At his current pace, Revere will need to play nearly four more seasons without a home run to catch Taveras.

Taveras holds a record meant to be broken, but more importantly, a record worth watching. But right now, all we can do as fans is stand up and cheer on Mr. Revere in his quest to play baseball the way it was played in 1899. Revere’s current title could evaporate at any moment so make sure you keep your fingers crossed that the wind keeps blowing in wherever Ben Revere can be found.

Fixing the Baseball Hall of Fame

Since the vote was revealed last month, constant discussions and arguments over who should and shouldn’t have been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame have occurred. A large portion of our internet compadres believe this year’s class of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas was far too small. Clearly, many other deserving candidates belong in the Hall. People are starting to worry if some of these superstars are ever going to make it into the Hall of Fame. We decided to speed things up.

What follows is somewhat inspired by an old Jeff Sullivan tweet.

(Note: former podcast guest Scott Weber now runs Lookout Landing, so it looks like he wrote the tweet. But he didn’t. He’s not that funny.)

What a brilliant idea. Barry Bonds should probably just go to the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he’s too busy biking and holding adorable dogs. Luckily, we can just put him, along with the large group of other deserving candidates, into the Hall of Fame.

Let’s fix this mess.

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Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, and Barry Bonds finally made it to the Hall of Fame. Piazza looks exhausted.

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Tim Raines stands confidently inside the Hall of Fame. Slammin’ Sammy is jumping for joy because he’s finally in the Hall of Fame.

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A young Barry Bonds casually leans against a pillar inside the Hall of Fame. An even younger Sammy Sosa and Piazza pretend they’re still in the big leagues. Jeff Bagwell is relaxing on a bench in the Hall of Fame. Edgar Martinez has fallen and he can’t get up…but at least he’s in the Hall of Fame. 

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Pitchers React to Barry Bonds

So you might not have heard, but I’m a big fan of Barry Bonds. Last month, I wrote about my 25 favorite Barry Bonds facts for Michael Clair’s blogathon. This time, I did very little writing at all.

Something fun to watch on home run replays is the victimized pitcher’s immediate reaction. I quickly found that pitchers who gave up monstrous home runs to Barry Bonds had a fascinatingly wide range of reactions.

MLB.com recently added video of every single home run that Barry Bonds hit into McCovey Cove, as well as all of his milestone home runs. Naturally, I went back and watched all of them once or a thousand times, and I observed the humans around Barry Bonds the instant he hit the dinger.

These are their stories (in a series of blurry screenshots).

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Michael Clair’s #Blogathon2014

In case you haven’t heard, our friend Michael Clair over at oldtimefamilybaseball.com has been doing a remarkably cool event known as the Blogathon for Doctors Without Borders. He’s done this for a few years and it’s a fantastic idea that he has executed remarkably well this year especially. Jake and I were both fortunate enough to be asked to contribute to the guest post portion of the blogathon, and we were happy to oblige.

Link to donate (and you should really donate!)

Jake wrote about the 2004 Baltimore Orioles’ role in The Wire:

http://oldtimefamilybaseball.com/post/73874479861/the-wire-baltimore-orioles

I wrote about Barry Bonds and my 25 favorite Bonds facts:

http://oldtimefamilybaseball.com/post/73935637744/25-greatest-barry-bonds-facts

Another Fun Barry Bonds Fact Because Duh

I understand that catchers are the type of position player that you would ever expect to steal. They’re are very very few in today’s game with anything that even resembles average speed, let alone base-stealing ability. Regardless, I took a look at some career stolen base totals for some active catchers and oh my god let’s relate it to Barry Bonds because Barry Bonds etc.

So.

Earlier in his epic career, Barry Bonds actually stole a ton of bases. He was rather skinny and very quick on the basepaths, stealing a career high 52 bags in his 1990 campaign with Pittsburgh, and stealing at least 28 in nine other seasons. But let’s fast forward to the end of Barry Bonds’ career…

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These Cleats Are Made For Walking: Can Somebody Notice This ?!

Okay, here we are again. It’s the seventh Monday morning of the 2013 season and oh my god Jeffrey Scott Keppinger has still not walked through ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE PLATE APPEARANCES.

There are so many ridiculous things about this that are not being talked about nearly enough.

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Barry Bonds Walked A Lot

Jake called me yesterday and informed me that he’s been spending this week hiking over 50 miles. “That’s a lot of walking”, I thought. Do you know who else did a lot of walking ? Barry Lamar Bonds.

For his career, Barry Bonds drew 2,558 unintentional walks and 688 intentional walks. He is the all-time leader in both categories. In other words, Barry Bonds walked over 55 MILES as a major leaguer.

So there’s that.