United States

Those Who Care About Baseball Should Protest the Blacklisting of Barry Bonds!

By Mike Gimbel

How is it possible for the best hitter (Barry Bonds) in the National League in 2007 to be unable to find a job with any team in Major League Baseball in 2008? How is it possible for the greatest hitter in the history of Major League Baseball (Barry Bonds), after being the best hitter in the National League in 2007, to be unable to get a job with any team in Major League Baseball in 2008?

Here’s my computed Run Production Averages (RPA) for the top 27 hitters in Major League baseball in the 2007 season (minimum 400 computed plate appearances, as per RPA method). My method shows the season adjusted value of each plate appearance in terms of the runs produced by that batter per the RPA formula that I previously described in my Mike Gimbel’s Baseball Player and Team Ratings 1995

Are you going to tell me that there isn’t a single team that could use Barry Bonds’ big bat? Tell me just one team that doesn’t have room on their 25-man roster for the greatest hitter in MLB history! Barry Bonds has not been convicted of anything. He has not been accused of betting on games or throwing games. Barry Bonds has not been accused of assaulting anyone. Barry Bonds has been accused of not being a nice guy by the media, but is that a crime?

Barry Bonds has been accused of not telling the truth to a Grand Jury investigating BALCO. Barry Bonds does not own BALCO and does not distribute steroids on behalf of BALCO. Why was the Grand Jury investigating Barry Bonds? Weren’t they supposed to be investigating BALCO? How did that “investigation” of BALCO turn into a witch-hunt directed against MLB players? Clearly, BALCO wasn’t the real target in the racist campaign against Barry Bonds.

I am my union’s delegate to the New York City Central Labor Council. During my union work I have been a grievance representative. As such, I have often represented union members who have been brought up on charges for both minor and major infractions. Members could get fired for directly disobeying an order or for incompetence or for various serious infractions. The only time that the member faced suspension, however, was when the member posed an immediate danger.

What “immediate danger” to Major League Baseball does Barry Bonds pose, that requires Barry Bonds’ suspension prior to a decision in Bonds’ upcoming trial? In fact, wouldn’t the presence of Barry Bonds on a Major League Baseball team roster (the Baltimore Orioles, for instance) be an immediate big boost to that team’s attendance as well as a big boost to their chances of winning?

In effect, MLB teams are willing to lose money rather than hire Barry Bonds. Isn’t that the definition of a Blacklist? The actors, singers, directors, etc...,who were Blacklisted during the McCarthy era witch hunt, were money makers for the entertainment industry, yet no owner would hire them! Isn’t that exactly what is happening with Barry Bonds? Weren’t many of these talented performers indicted and some convicted for refusing to cooperate with Grand Juries and dragged before government staged hearings in front of hundreds of cameras and reporters? Years later many of those blacklisted were apologized to, but did that apology make up for the destruction of their livelihoods and their personal lives during the McCarthy “Blacklisting”? Of course not!

I have a special disgust for the owners of the San Francisco Giants. They made millions off Barry Bonds. They were able to build a money-making stadium based, to a great extent, on Barry Bonds. Where is their gratitude? Nowhere! He was their star player who was loved by the fans in the Bay area, yet the SF Giants team owners shamefully released Barry Bonds after the 2007 season so as to do their part in the “Blacklisting”! They deserve a “Hall of Shame” of their own!

Years from now, when Major League Baseball is forced to apologize to Barry Bonds for their actions, that apology will never make up for the crime that Major League Baseball is inflicting today on Barry Bonds and on the many fans who admire the athletic greatness that Barry Bonds has been as a player. I also admire him for his unbending, “in your face” attitude, as he’s been enduring during this constant attack from the big business media, especially the sports talk radio and cable channels that have to fill 24 hour a day air time by creating controversy and scandal where there would have been little or none before those media outlets were created.

I appeal to the fans of Major League Baseball to bombard their team owners with letters and emails and petitions demanding that their team hire Barry Bonds. Imagine, for instance, Barry Bonds added to the roster of the woeful offense of the Baltimore Orioles. Imagine the magical confrontations in the American League East with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez at Fenway Park and Camden Yards and with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards. Wouldn’t that do wonders for attendance for a Baltimore Orioles franchise that has been down in the dumps for so long?

An historic wrong is being committed by the owners. Do we want to have a posthumous apology to Barry Bonds, as was done for Jim Thorpe, or do we correct this wrong NOW? Barry Bonds is this era’s Babe Ruth. He’s the biggest star in our national pastime!

I appeal to the fans to help us right this wrong. I want to see Barry Bonds playing baseball in 2008!

To all concerned fans: Perhaps you could use the above as a petition circulated at stadiums or handed out at stadium gates. While ending the Iraq Occupation and fighting for a moratorium on home foreclosures take precedence, I know that millions of you will still be in attendance at MLB games. While there, couldn’t you also do your part in fighting against the shameful “Blacklisting” of Barry Bonds, the greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history?


The Black Commentator, April 24, 2008 Guest Commentator, Mike Gimbel, is a former Consultant on Player Evaluation for the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos.