We like to sob-laugh about the Marlins Death Fog. Mostly sob. Whenever the Giants play the Marlins, there's always the threat of something awful happening. It's not just Dante Powell's throw hitting the mound, Pudge Rodriguez holding onto the ball, or Scott Cousins. Just last year, Buster Posey had to leave a game against the Marlins after a head injury. It's the oddest, darnedest thing. The universe gave us Cody Ross in exchange, but that doesn't mean it's not uncomfortable when the Marlins come to town.
The answer to what will succumb to the Marlins Death Fog has already been answered, though. My heart. My youth. My emotions.
IT'S STILL WEIRD. It's still weird. It will never not be weird. The Giants are in the middle of a losing streak, the Marlins are bringing their death fog into town, and we get to be reminded all weekend of Barry Bonds in a Marlins uniform.
You can't convince me that the fumes from the Marlins' ungodly birth in 1993 isn't what took the Giants down at the end of the season. I watched a YouTube video about Marlins chemtrails, and I'm pretty sure they forced the Padres to trade Fred McGriff, too.
This is how Bonds comes back in a uniform. As the hitting coach for a team we despise. At least he's happy.
If you want to remember just how odd it was when Bonds left, Matt Kawahara has a nice oral history of his final game.
Duane Kuiper, Giants broadcaster: Before every broadcast we do a tease – it’s the first thing you hear. And it’s the only tease that I almost cried in. They put some music to it, and it really got me, because I knew, with all the great at-bats I had a chance to broadcast with him at the plate, maybe he was going to get two at-bats, maybe three, but this was it. This was going to be the last time he would take the field.
I made an impulsive decision to spend money I didn't have to go to that final game, and I'm glad I did. My only regret is that I didn't spend even more money so I could get closer and yell nice things at him. It was an odd vibe, for sure, a slapped together farewell that was announced just a couple weeks prior for a player who was still great. It's something you'll probably never see again.
Even though Derek Jeter is hitting .375 and everyone around here loves him, we've decided the Yankees need to go in a different direction.
Nope, you would have never, ever seen that, even if the Yankees lost 160 games in Jeter's final season. I get why the Giants decided not to pursue Bonds, and there was something to readjusting the focus of a bad, bad team, but it was still stunning. The only consolation was that he was probably going to DH for the A's, and we were going to see him all the time.
And then he was colluded against, or at the very least, punished by the now-unthinkable steroid paranoia that was surrounding the sport. Jhonny Peralta signed for $53 million the offseason after he was suspended for 50 games. But when Bonds retired, teams were so terrified of the backlash, they wouldn't take a chance on a guaranteed .450 on-base percentage. He had a .480 OBP in his final season. Here's a complete list of players with better OBPs since then:
But no one would take him, not even for the minimum salary. They didn't want to deal with the personality and the media circus. Not worth it. And then the next season, all of the Bonds-related displays around AT&T Park were gone. Poof. Look at this horrible article.
The ex-Giants slugger has been exorcised from San Francisco. In hindsight, the fans' ties to him were about money, not love.
In 2001, he set the single-season home-run record at 73. But you wouldn't know it inside the Giants Dugout store at the ballpark. Workers say the store sells only merchandise that is current.
I want to buy a Barry Bonds hat. Like a mitre, shaped like his head, with his face on it, that I would put on top of my own head.
He grandstanded home runs, barked at reporters and snarled at fan requests for his photo or autograph.
"Nobody considers him a legend," Pearlman said. "His is the most anticlimactic sports record of all time."
Oh, you shut up the most.
Some say Bonds' legacy amounts to a bit of bad Barry mojo. Deborah Gee, a feng shui expert who toured AT&T Park in 1999, said there was a negative energy force around Bonds' locker. She described it as "poison arrows of energy that translate into bad choices and misfortune."
What the crap.
"Some people might call it the Curse of Bonds, but in feng shui it's predecessor chi, the bad energy left by previous occupants of a space," she said. "That bad energy is still there."
Barry Bonds helped AT&T Park get built. The Giants are a multi-billion dollar franchise now, in no small part because of the ballpark. But for years, he was treated like the creepy uncle who did time. He wasn't a saint, no. He wasn't particularly nice, no. There were days when he loved the fans quite a bit less than they loved him, perhaps. He was still San Francisco baseball, personified, for a very, very important period in franchise history. Not only were they not the Tampa Giants, but they were the pennant-winning San Francisco Giants, playing in a new ballpark that was the envy of baseball.
Things are changing for the better. The relationship is warmed, both with the team and the fans. From Daniel Brown:
Baer said by phone Thursday that the Wall of Fame is first on the to-do list. In fact, the Giants chief executive officer said they offered to hold the ceremony this weekend, but Bonds felt the timing wasn't right.
No one has worn #25 since Bonds left. There is broad support for a statue outside AT&T Park. It will all fall into place, especially when age softens the edges of whatever distaste people have for Bonds, the human being. It's hard to hate an old person. Have you tried to hate an old person lately? Give it a shot, you'll see what I mean. Your homework is to go out today and try to hate an old person.
Which is to say, I could totally see a 70-year-old Bonds in a chair, tear in his eye talking about what the statue unveiling means to him at a very nice ceremony.
Hopefully it will happen sooner. Until then, this is what we get. Barry Bonds, in another team's uniform, being a solid citizen and getting rave reviews in his new job. He's happy. Look at the guy in my photo tool.
Just yukking it up. It'll be nice to see him on the field again, even if he's with the Marlins. I'm just about the world's biggest Hensley Meulens fan, so I don't regret that the Giants didn't give him the same shot. I'm just lamenting that he isn't this happy with the Giants.
Either way, welcome back, Barry Bonds. This is pretty exciting. Welcome back, and sorry things got so weird.