PIRATES SHOULD RETIRE BONDS’ NO. 24

posted by Mark Madden - 

Barry Bonds’ No. 25 was retired by the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, and he didn’t behave like a horse’s ass.

Bonds was quite the opposite, in fact. He was gracious throughout, and that included a stop in the Pirates’ broadcast booth.

At 54, has the notoriously surly Bonds mellowed? Has his disdain deflated, not unlike his once Mt. Rushmore-sized head?

That doesn’t matter. It never should have.

This isn't about finding a date for the prom. The Giants looked at Bonds’ massive accomplishments, how many tickets he sold, his popularity in the Bay Area and his role in getting AT&T Park built in 2000.

Retiring Bonds’ number was an easy decision for the Giants, though it took longer than it should have. Bonds getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame may yet happen, and will take longer than it should have.

Bonds’ alleged misdeeds duly noted – please note, too, that Bonds never tested positive for PEDs – he is, statistically, baseball’s best player ever.

Retiring Bonds’ No. 24 should be an easy decision for the Pirates. He may be the Pirates’ best player ever. (That notion is admittedly diminished by his relative short Pittsburgh tenure of just seven seasons.)

Bonds is the Pirates’ only two-time NL MVP, and was the primary impetus during a rare winning era for the franchise. If you’re hung up on the steroid issue, Bonds clearly wasn’t using when was with the Pirates.

To not retire Bonds’ number is petty. There is no good reason.

If it’s about how little time Bonds spent with the Pirates, then the team should be prepared to never again retire another number. No truly great player will ever again play his entire career with the Pirates. MLB’s financial disparity guarantees that. (Anyway, Ralph Kiner played just seven-plus years with the Pirates. His number is retired.)

If it’s about Bonds not winning a World Series, then the team should be prepared to never again retire another number. The Pirates may never again be capable. (Kiner's Pirates never finished higher than fourth.)

If it’s about Bonds being disliked, whoever thinks that needs to grow up.

Bonds is a surly baseball player, but a great one. He’s not a mass murderer. Halls of fame in all sports are being diluted by nonsensically evaluating issues besides performance.

The Pirates have retired just one number since PNC Park opened: Paul Waner’s No. 11, in 2007. The franchise should adjust its standard. The Pirates aren’t the New York Yankees (who retire far too many numbers, BTW).

Bonds should be recognized. So should:

*Chuck Tanner, who managed the Pirates last(-ever?) world championship team in 1979.

*Dave Parker, who played for that ’79 team and won two batting titles, an MVP and an All-Star Game MVP.

*Andrew McCutchen, a catalyst for the Pirates’ playoff appearances from 2013-15 like Bonds was when they won division titles from 1990-92.

But if it comes down to “like,” and who did or didn’t sign a baseball for somebody, then the honor is meaningless and what’s done doesn’t matter.

Photo courtesy of GettyImages
Mark Madden

Mark Madden

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