At the top of this page, there's a header that reads "sections." Mouse over that, and you'll get a drop-down menu that includes "full archives." Do not click that link. Now set your computer on fire. This site used to be awful. It's not like I'm fit to type Roger Angell's name today, but I'm pretty sure I'll be only mildly embarrassed in five or six years about what I'm writing now. The articles from the early days are a digital high school haircut, forever aging poorly in the yearbook of the Internet.
This comes up now because Barry Bonds turned 50 on Thursday, and people are talking about him. Tim Marchman compiled a list of ridiculous Bonds facts. Cespedes Family BBQ updated their list. Sports Illustrated tweeted out a link to all his SI covers. Videos and highlights were flying around. I'm fond of this one:
That baseball died. That baseball is dead.
All this sent me through the archives here, to read what I wrote about Barry Bonds while it was happening. It was disappointing -- not just the words about Bonds, but the tone of the site altogether. There was too much "What should the Giants do about Lance Niekro?" and not nearly enough "Can you believe this guy? Is he for real?" Bonds was sand slipping to the bottom of the championship hourglass, and the post-2004 Giants were continually wasting one of the greatest hitters ever. My focus was on the supporting cast, because everyone already knew how unreal Bonds was.
Here are my thoughts on Dan Ortmeier ...
No, no, you idiot. Barry Bonds is there. Stop writing about that and pay more attention to his last season.
10 reasons why Scott McClain should be on the bench (slideshow)
You fool. That's like getting a one-on-one audience with the Almighty Creator and asking him or her to list the different colors of nail polish sold from 2004 through 2007. Every post should have been about Barry Bonds. Every single one. Whenever Bonds wasn't on the page, all of the readers should have been asking, "Where's Bonds?"
I think I've written about Bonds more since he quasi-retired than I did when he was active. With each passing year, the numbers on the Baseball-Reference page became more ludicrous, more abstract. How did a baseball player walk 232 times in a season? How can a player hit 73 home runs in 476 official at-bats? The memories are there, but they're as fuzzy as the ancient clip up there from 2002. My brain wasn't in HD then, either, and things are getting worse over time.
Which brings us to the ultimate paradox. I think I know how to appreciate greatness like that while it happens now, to not sweat the small stuff. There were 29 teams who didn't win the World Series in 2006, and the Giants were one of them. Of those teams, 28 didn't get to watch Barry Bonds. Just that alone almost made the Giants a perennial pennant-winning team. Every season was a ride that made Giants fans luckier than other fans. We got to watch Barry Bonds. We got to watch Barry Bonds. We got to watch ... If we get to see a player like that again, I'll be less concerned with the small picture masquerading as the big picture.
The paradox: It will never happen again. I'm Young Jim staring at the useless fob chain, just picturing how it's going to look on the watch I'll never have again. The Giants have been blessed in so, so many other ways, so this isn't exactly a deep regret that keeps me up at night. But it is a regret. Barry Bonds was here, and I'm not sure how much attention I could have paid to him, but I'm sure I didn't pay enough.
All we can do now is watch the dingers.
The incredible dingers.
The unspeakably murderous dingers.
Wait, that doesn't count.
That's better. Happy 50th birthday, Barry Bonds. I made a section for you. It is not nearly enough thanks for the baseball you've given us, but it's the least I could do.