Barry and the Derby

My phone rang early this morning, and when I answered it, my longtime Giants-fantatic buddy Buzz was on the other end.

“Is this guy really that stupid?!” he asked me, referring to you-know-who.
And my answer to that is simply this:

Barry Bonds is not stupid. He just doesn’t care. Never has, never will.

The outcry stems from Bonds’ decision not to participate in the Home Run Derby. And while I can understand reactions like my buddy’s, I can’t help but wonder why anybody is the least bit surprised.

You see for Bonds, the game has never been about romance. Remember, this is a guy who was schooled by his father, Bobby, and Willie Mays. And lord knows how bitter those two must’ve been at times during their careers. I’m sure each felt unappreciated, underpaid, etc., and no doubt that rubbed off on Barry and taught him that players really don’t owe the game anything.

The reality, of course, is that they do. Baseball has afforded Bonds the opportunity to live a life of privilege and leisure that few of us can imagine. If he really got it, or if he had advisors who told him what he needed to be told rather than what he wants to hear, Bonds would say thanks to the organization that has over-indulged him and, more important, to the fans whose last-second ballot push got Bonds into the starting lineup in the All-Star Game.

Giants managing general partner Peter Magowan said as much this morning, expressing his disappointment in Bonds’ decision during a KNBR interview. Too bad Magown doesn’t have any guts. If he did, he’d tell Bonds to participate or pack his bags.

As my friend said, this would have been the perfect cherry on top for his 15 years in San Francisco. It’s the only city that has supported him through the sordid steroids mess. Showing his appreciation by putting a few in the drink would’ve been an extremely small gesture of appreciation. If he was so worried about the physical toll, then bow out after one round. Bonds is certainly gifted enough to “miss” enough pitches to do that.

Instead, he’s thumbing his nose again. He’s done it, oh, probably his entire life, so it’s anything but surprising. Makes me wonder if he’ll get booed when he’s introduced on Tuesday. If San Franciscans have any guts, that’s what they’ll do. That would be the perfect cherry on top.

Not that Bonds will care. He never has, never will.