Giants

Should Barry Bonds follow A-Rod's lead to get into Baseball Hall of Fame?

Should Barry Bonds follow A-Rod's lead to get into Baseball Hall of Fame?

SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Bonds won’t hold a press conference before his number is retired on Saturday. He is expected to simply give a speech before the game, which means he will avoid a topic he has shrugged off in recent years. 

Since returning to the organization, Bonds has consistently shied away from serious discussions about his Hall of Fame candidacy. Two years ago, when he was appointed a special advisor to President and CEO Larry Baer, Bonds said he didn’t have any answers that were different that what he had said in the past. 

“To keep talking about it doesn’t do any good,” Bonds said at the time. 

[RATTO: Bonds' number retirement actually matters a bit more than the usual marketing ploy]

He has stood by that statement, but as Bonds’ time on the ballot nears an end, he may soon be confronted with this: What if he had talked about it more? What if he had talked more, period?

It’s impossible to know exactly how voters might have responded to Bonds being more proactive in recent years, but he’ll get a strong hint of a true answer when another PED-tainted slugger gets on the ballot. In 2022, Alex Rodriguez, with a similar profile, will have his first shot at Cooperstown. His vote totals will be fascinating when put side by side with the lack of support given Bonds. 

Rodriguez certainly will benefit from a younger electorate that has inched Bonds along over the years, but he also could benefit greatly from an ongoing overhaul of his image. Rodriguez joined the World Series broadcast and now is the star of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. He is a regular at ballparks around the country, has been extremely active on Twitter and Instagram, and generally has followed a well-curated plan to change the perception that followed him for so many years in New York. 

Bonds has been more active on social media in recent years and has at times considered doing some television work, but ultimately has shied away from the spotlight. That is certainly his right, and in retirement, Bonds has shown repeatedly that he prefers to go unnoticed more often than not. He slips in and out of the ballpark several times a season, occasionally posting up behind the batting cage without much fanfare. 

But as he looks back, Bonds might find that there was a different approach. Rodriguez has joined Pete Rose and David Ortiz on FOX’s World Series broadcast, an opportunity that certainly would be available to the all-time home run king. A couple of years ago, a conversation Rodriguez and Rose had about hitting went viral, helping to remind viewers how brilliant the all-time greats are in the batter’s box. Players who have spoken to Bonds around the cage rave about what he has to offer, but thus far Bonds has preferred not to do so publicly, either on a local or national scale. 

In a few years, we’ll find out if any of this matters, if five years of carefully altering his public imagine made a difference for Rodriguez. The guess here is that it will to some degree, even if it shouldn’t. The Hall of Fame, a museum, should be about numbers, but many voters, nearly half in Bonds’ case, have chosen to hold part of his legacy against him, ignoring the fact that he played in an era where many were doing the same thing. 

Rodriguez did, too, but you can bet a few voters will be swayed by seeing him on television or chatting with him at the ballpark. Those same voters remember Bonds glaring at them as they approached his locker, and many hold a grudge. It’s not fair, and Bonds certainly sees that. As he sits just above the 50 percent mark in support, he continues to take the approach that, essentially, “it is what it is.” But perhaps there was another way. 

Brawl notes: Giants confused by Hundley's ejection, umpire explanation

Brawl notes: Giants confused by Hundley's ejection, umpire explanation

LOS ANGELES — When Major League Baseball eventually comes for the umpires, replacing them with pitch-tracking technology, perhaps they’ll explain the switch with a simple phrase.

“Watch the tape.”

That’s about all Eric Cooper had to say late Tuesday night when a pool reporter asked why Nick Hundley had been ejected despite not throwing any punches at Yasiel Puig. 

“Watch the tape,” Cooper said. “You’ll see why he had to be ejected.”

Well, not really. First of all, Hundley was wearing a catcher’s mask, so it was hard to tell what he was saying to Puig. Hundley and Puig went face-to-face, but it was Puig who twice shoved Hundley, with the catcher reaching out both times to block the move. The Giants were baffled that Hundley was ejected after a long conversation between the umpires. 

“I don’t get it, either, to be honest,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ll see what the (umpires) report says. You’re going to defend yourself.”

Hundley said he’s not concerned about any discipline from the league.

“I was defending myself. He was defending himself. I don’t see why it should go any further than that,” he said. 

--- This fight escalated quickly but there wasn’t actually much action, with one exception. As Hundley was being held back, Puig ran back in, threw a few teammates out of the way, and tried to punch Hundley. He ended up slapping his mask with an open hand as Hundley was being held back. 

“I saw him coming,” Hundley said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to defend myself in that spot, being tangled up with someone else. The league will look at that. That’s something that’s up to the league to discipline somebody. That’s not my job to enforce any behavioral things.”

--- Hundley was held back, and essentially tackled, by first base coach George Lombard. He later came out onto the top step of the dugout and had a brief conversation with Lombard. Hundley said he was checking to make sure Lombard didn’t get hurt in the altercation. 

--- Lost in all that, Andrew Suarez had his best start in over a month. Suarez gave up some loud contact, but threw six shutout innings. He got all four strikeouts with his fastball and said that was the plan. 

“I’ve noticed a lot of teams are spitting on my sliders lately,” he said. 

Suarez went heavy with the heater in two-strike counts and had a big night. He also won bragging rights. Suarez and Manny Machado have been playing on the same fields since they were eight, and while Machado hit the ball hard twice, he didn’t get a hit off Suarez.

Hundley fights Puig in another heated chapter of Giants-Dodgers rivalry

Hundley fights Puig in another heated chapter of Giants-Dodgers rivalry

LOS ANGELES — About 30 minutes before every game he starts, Nick Hundley goes out onto the field by himself, his uniform already on underneath a black hoodie. He walks out to the nearest foul line and then takes off on a dead sprint, legs and arms pumping as he heads towards the center field wall. 

It’s Hundley’s way of getting the juices flowing, getting his muscles and mind ready for the night ahead. He’s locking in, transforming from the mild-mannered, humorous, humble teammate into the man who will control most of the action. 

On the surface, Hundley is just about the last Giant you would ever expect to get into an on-field altercation. But watch him sprint towards the wall and you’ll see the intensity that has carried him this deep into his career. It takes a special breed to be a catcher, and in the seventh inning Tuesday, Hundley showed that fire that’s so tucked away before and after starts. 

Yasiel Puig fouled a pitch off that he felt he should have crushed. As he does, Puig reacted angrily. He flipped the bat in the air and grabbed it emphatically, showing all 46,000 at Dodger Stadium that he felt he should have tied the game. Hundley wasn’t pleased, and let Puig know that he should dig back into the box. The two came face-to-face, and then shoves were exchanged. This rivalry had another heated chapter, with both benches and bullpens clearing and Puig getting in one open-handed shot to Hundley’s mask before order was restored. 

Afterward, in a clubhouse buzzing over the mini-brawl and 2-1 win over the Dodgers, Hundley was as calm as could be. He said it was a good game between rivals, one chasing the other in the standings. He said it was not a big deal. He would not say what he said to set Puig off. 

"That's stuff that's said on the field and that'll be left out there,” Hundley said. 

Here, once again, Puig disagreed with the Giants. It was not hard to see that Hundley took offense to Puig’s reaction to missing a Tony Watson pitch down the middle. Puig confirmed it.

“I knew that was the best pitch that Watson was going to throw me, so I was a little upset,” he told reporters. “He told me to stop complaining and get back in the box. When I got in his face, he told me to get out of his face, so that’s when I got upset with him. I didn’t like that he was telling me what to do, and then he said some words to me in English that I really can’t repeat.”

This is not the first time the Giants and Puig have gotten into it. It likely won’t be the last. But this disagreement came with a twist. Puig and Hundley were ejected, setting off a chain of events that helped the Giants win the game after Sam Dyson gave a run back in the eighth. 

Buster Posey moved from first to catcher to replace Hundley. Brandon Belt, fresh off the disabled list, took Posey’s spot at first. Two innings later, Belt singled off Kenta Maeda and came around on Alen Hanson’s single, scoring the winning run.

Fifty-five minutes after Puig shoved Hundley, the Giants streamed out onto the field for handshakes. A few minutes later, they were celebrating in the clubhouse. This was as loud as it’s been after a game all season long for a team that improved to 61-60, got within three of the Dodgers, and stayed five back of the Diamondbacks. 

“That should bring us even closer together,” Hundley said. “This is a tight-knit group. We’ll feed off that. What a great win.”

It started with six strong innings from rookie Andrew Suarez. When the field cleared and Hundley and Puig headed back to their respective clubhouses, the Dodgers rallied and tied it on Manny Machado’s single. For a second straight night, the Giants beat a Dodgers reliever in the ninth. This time it was Kenta Maeda, supposedly the solution for the Dodgers’ woes. Hanson smoked a single up the middle and Belt, who just missed 17 games with a hyperextended knee, rumbled home. Kiké Hernandez has a strong arm in center, and Hanson admitted later that he was worried when he saw Hernandez scoop the ball on one bounce. 

“I noticed Belt rounding third when the throw was coming in,” Hanson said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “Luckily for us, he made a bad throw.”

The throw was high and Yasmani Grandal couldn’t glove it. Belt slid in safely. He said later that he felt like he was running underwater in his first game back. He also insisted that his knee feels fine. 

“I wasn’t moving fast enough to make it hurt anyway,” Belt said. 

With that, he headed for the bus. The clubhouse was still energetic and players smiled as they walked past Hundley’s locker. The Giants came here with a very realistic shot of being permanently banished from the NL West race. Instead, they’re right back within striking distance, and they got to get their juices flowing, too. 

“Two very good games, great games, to come in here and get a couple of wins,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them.”