Bud Selig reflects on 'misery' of Barry Bonds' home run record chase

Bud Selig reflects on 'misery' of Barry Bonds' home run record chase

We always knew the relationship between former Giants legend Barry Bonds and Major League Baseball was far from amicable, but former MLB commissioner Bud Selig has more than doubled down on those feelings in his upcoming book, "For The Good of the Game."

In an excerpt from his book published by Sports Illustrated on Tuesday, Selig was not shy about his displeasure for Bonds and the time frame between July 27, 2007, when Bonds connected on career home run No. 754, to August 7, when he hammered his 22nd home run of the season and the 756th of his career. 

"Bonds was on the verge of breaking Henry Aaron’s record for career home runs, and I was doing what a commissioner of a sports league is supposed to do," Selig wrote. "I was hopscotching around the country to be in attendance when the self-absorbed slugger hit the record homer."

Selig presided over baseball as its embattled commissioner from 1992 until he retired in 2015, a period that saw rampant steroid use across baseball -- especially from many of its star players.

While Selig does take responsibility for not doing more to stand in the way of performance-enhancing drug use, he pulled zero punches when describing his emotions during the two-week period where Bonds and his chase for the record was the epicenter of the sports world. 

In addition to lamenting Bonds' arrogance, Selig also noted the contrast between Bonds and Aaron, who Barry was chasing for the all-time home run record. 

"Along the way, I had a lot of time to think about the differences between Barry Bonds, who simply wasn’t likable, and Henry Aaron, who had been such a giant on the field and now was the same way off the field, carrying himself with as much poise as humility," Selig opined. "I have called myself a friend of Henry’s since 1958 and burst with pride every time I speak about him."

Selig went on to discuss the scene in San Diego after Bonds went to the opposite field at Petco Park to get home run No. 755 to tie the MLB record:

I trudged up to a box high atop the stadium the next night. I didn’t mind being by myself. I thought I’d experienced every emotion possible at a ballpark. I’d been nervous a lot and angry more often than I’d like to admit. I’d chain-smoked and I’d felt the level of peacefulness that my friends talk about after long hikes at a national park. I’d been exhilarated and had moments of pure joy. But this took me to a place I’d never been before, and I’ll admit it.

I was thinking about that and a million other things as I watched Bonds drive a pitch from the Padres’ Clay Hensley into the seats in left field in San Diego, setting off a celebration as he tied Henry’s record.

I didn’t go to the clubhouse to congratulate him afterward. I just couldn’t bring myself to look him in the eyes and act happy about what he’d done. I don’t exactly have a poker face.

[RELATED: New Giants draftee Hunter Bishop has similar background to Bonds]

Selig also noted that while Aaron had been hesitant about doing a video tribute for Bonds when he set the record, Selig was the one who convinced him to do it "regardless of the circumstance."

Bonds, due to his alleged steroid use, still is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Giants did retire his No. 25 jersey during the 2018 season though, and Bonds was met with adoring cheers from the San Francisco crowd.

But while Bonds is not in the Hall, Selig was elected in 2017. Selig reflected on the entirety of his career and the steroid era as well in the last paragraph of the available excerpt.

"Steroids became a bigger issue than any of us imagined when we were watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the summer of 1998," the former commissioner wrote. "But through my work with owners—eventually with cooperation from the players union, which was kicking and screaming all the way—we ended up with baseball having the toughest steroid policy in sports. I couldn’t be prouder as I look back. The same is true for the economic overhaul of the sport during my tenure."

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're at all surprised by Johnny Cueto's first two starts back from Tommy John surgery, you probably shouldn't be. 

After all, this is a pitcher who had a 0.84 ERA through the end of April last season when he felt constant pain in his elbow and knew that surgery could be in his near future. Cueto found a way to fool hitters back then, and the Giants were always optimistic that he would find his form once he returned. Even by that standard, though, the first two starts have been impressive. 

Cueto threw five more shutout innings Sunday, giving him 10 scoreless frames in his return. He has allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out six. He would have picked up a second win Sunday, but the bullpen temporarily coughed up the lead. The Giants would go on to beat the Marlins 2-1 when Mike Yastrzemski dashed home on a wild pitch in the eighth. 

"I don't know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this, but you look at how he's throwing the ball and it's Johnny before his surgery," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's four pitches with command. He commands the ball, cuts it, mixes up his delivery -- and that works."

The Giants needed every scoreless inning, because right now they're out there with a lineup that's providing absolutely no punch. Cueto did his best to make an early Mauricio Dubon homer hold up, and he showed a sense of the moment as his day was coming to a close. 

Cueto had a long fourth inning and was 10 pitches from his predetermined count when he went out for the fifth. The bullpen was humming, but Cueto got through the inning on just six pitches. Then he popped into the dugout and asked Bochy for the sixth. 

"It was like Johnny knew it," Bochy said. "He got some quick outs."

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Bochy joked that he would let Cueto go 120 pitches if possible, but the restraints are still on and will be for the rest of this season. Cueto could get to 80-85 pitches in his next start and said he hopes to be cleared for 100 in his season finale. With the way he's throwing right now, that might be enough to take a shot at a shutout. 

Giants vs. Marlins lineups: Mike Yastrzemski's first start in center field


Giants vs. Marlins lineups: Mike Yastrzemski's first start in center field

Before embarking on their final road trip of the 2019 season, the Giants will host the Miami Marlins in a matinee to close out a three-game series at Oracle Park.

Getting the start for San Francisco is Johnny Cueto, who wowed the crowd at China Basin in his season debut last week, allowing only one hit in five innings with four strikeouts in a Giants win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Cueto is 4-2 in 10 career starts against Miami but owns a 5.09 ERA in those outings.

Opposite the Giants ace will be 24-year-old Elieser Hernandez. The right-hander has a 3-5 record in 14 starts this season, with a 5.24 ERA. 

Coverage begins at noon PT with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live in the MyTeams app.

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Here are the lineups for Marlins-Giants:

Miami Marlins (52-96)
SS Miguel Rojas
2B Isan Diaz
3B Starlin Castro
1B Neil Walker
C Jorge Alfaro
RF Lewis Brinson
CF Magneuris Sierra
LF Jon Berti
RHP Elieser Hernandez (3-5, 5.24 ERA)
San Francisco Giants (71-78)
CF Mike Yastrzemski
1B Brandon Belt
3B Evan Longoria
LF Stephen Vogt
SS Brandon Crawford
RF Mike Gerber
LF Joey Rickard
2B Mauricio Dubon
RHP Johnny Cueto (1-0, 0.00 ERA)