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Barry Come Home


While the candidates are racing back and forth across the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appealing for votes in the pivotal primary -- being grilled by the media until well-done -- I am surprised the reporters have not yet raised the question: if elected, will you be inviting Barry Bonds to the White House? This is an especially important issue in the western end of the Keystone state, in Pittsburgh, if not all of Allegheny County.

Bonds has gotten a raw deal from the media and Congress. He is as much an icon as Roger Clemens. Yet the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has so far not wasted its time by giving him the same hearing on national TV to clear his name as they gave Roger. Why is that?

Lying about the use of performance enhancing substances is a great American pastime today. And Barry deserves to have his turn at the plate.

The real disgrace is that for some reason Barry Bonds is a free agent today. So far he has fewer spring training at bats than Billy Crystal. How is it possible that a man who fascinated the nation last season smashing the all-time home run record, and who hit .276 with 28 homers, despite his bad leg, is still unemployed?

According to the latest count, some 30 teams have failed to contact his agent. It's almost as if there is a plot to make Barry retire.

It is true he is 43-years old, and has a four-count indictment pending on the steroid issue. He can't run and has an entourage that can fill section 315 of any ballpark in the nation. But there is something un-American about what Organized Baseball is doing to Barry.

I should explain that Barry Bonds is my childhood hero. Even though I am a member of the Diaspora that left Pittsburgh -- what is known as The Pirates nation-- I fell in love with him when he played for the Buccos from 1986 to1992. He was a scrawny fellow in those days, who could barely carry all the jewelry he wore around his neck without getting premature curvature of the spine.

The people of Pittsburgh watched in amazement as he grew to full size in San Francisco and began hitting all those home runs. Clearly, it was getting away from the polluted air of the Smoky City. But the mills mostly were closed by the time Barry was playing for us. So it must have been all the fresh vegetables he was eating and going to bed early in San Francisco that accounted for the growth spurt.

But that's all water under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Why can't Barry find a job today? "I'm not retired," Barry told MLB.com. "I'm working out. I'm training. I'll come back in July if I have to." The Players union is investigating to see if there is some kind of collusion.

I can understand not too many teams would want to risk hiring a guy who may have to go on the 15-day DL to go to court or the 60-Day
DL to go to jail.

On the other hand, I am an old-fashioned guy who believes a man is innocent until found guilty. Why is baseball prejudging Barry more than any of the others who have been taking HGH? Sure, Barry is obnoxious and has a hat size that could break the Guinness Book of Records. But taking those substances apparently was an old tradition as American as apple pie and HD TV sets made in China.

I have a plan that will help Barry find employment and help rehabilitate his good name while he is waiting for an offer he can't refuse.

Come back to Pittsburgh, Barry.

Is it any coincidence that when you left the 'Burg, the Pirates began a streak of 15 losing (under .500) seasons? The Pirates traditionally now are first in the hearts of Pirate fans, first in games lost by one run, and last in the Central Division.

If we keep it up, starting in Atlanta on March 31, the Pirates will set the all-time record of 16 straight. You, Barry Bonds, can break the chain.

I know other Pirates fans have a mixed love-hate relationship with you. Some of our hotheaded fans booed you every time you appeared at PNC Park with your new team and hit homers. There are sore losers in every crowd. Why, Pirate fans even boo their own players. Losing for 15 years can do that.

Okay, maybe you're never going to be as beloved as Roberto Clemente or Honus Wagner. But they will come to admire your home runs.

The fact that you are currently unemployed is a positive. A lot of folks in Pittsburgh can identify with that since the mills began closing.

And I realize you can't play everyday with your sore legs. But the Pirates a have a lot of able younger men who can stand out there in right field and wait for the occasional fly ball.

The job I envision for you is as a designated pinch-hitter. You will be called on to come in off the bench and swat the occasional homer with two men on base in the ninth inning.

I also realize the Pirates, being in the bottom tier of low-spending teams, can not afford your regular salary. (The Giants gave Barry $10 million last season).

But it is a part-time job. The Pirates surely can scrape together the Major League minimum of $340,000, enough to keep you in organic vegetables and One-a -Day vitamins or whatever substance you're not taking.

For argument's sake, let's say the jury finds you guilty. This won't happen if your lawyers are smart enough to argue that you previously testified under the influence of President Bush and was being just as truthful as his telling the American people about the existence of WMD in Iraq. Your lawyer, Barry, will think of something.

Now here's the beauty part of my plan. In the worse case scenario, the judge is liable to sentence you to community service. A humane jurist, with the interest of society and rehabilitation, could then sentence you to serve your time on the bench at PNC Park. While this may violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, what a wonderful symbolic place this would be for you to start on the second phase of your career as an American icon.

There are those who knew Barry in San Francisco that say Bonds may not want to go for this deal.

But not when he hears school kids are chipping in their milk money to help the financially distressed Pirates pay for Bonds' return to his roots. I myself will start the ball rolling for the Bring Back Barry Bonds Fund by kicking in the fee from this article.