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. 

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

Giants digging hole with first-inning woes, and they might not have solution

PITTSBURGH -- Madison Bumgarner was mad at himself for digging too big a hole Friday night, and he certainly did just that. But as the Giants move past the 20-game mark, it's clear that it's another part of the team mostly digging the holes. 

The Giants are the only team in the Majors without a run in the first inning and they have scored first just six times in 21 games. When Bumgarner gave up four in the bottom of the first Friday, that was all it took. The Giants had not, of course, done any damage in the top of the inning. They would lose 4-1 on their first night with the Pirates. 

The first-inning woes have been there since the first at-bats of the season. The Giants are 6-for-66 in the first inning, and all six of the hits have been singles. They have just two walks in 21 first innings and have struck out 21 times. 

"Not scoring early again, that's making every game an uphill climb for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Friday's script was familiar. After an 85-minute rain delay, Steven Duggar opened the night by striking out. He is 3-for-17 while leading off games, with seven strikeouts. Joe Panik, who is batting .193, also struck out and Buster Posey, batting .217, grounded out to second.  

Bochy said the staff is talking about changes that can be made, but they are limited by their personnel. Kevin Pillar also brings speed, but he's batting just .167. Gerardo Parra is at .224. Up and down the lineup, there is nobody hitting, or reaching base at a rate that screams "put me up near the top of the lineup!"

"There's not a lot that you can do at this point," Bochy said. "These are our guys and you can move them a spot or two. But wherever you hit in the order, those guys have to come through. You look at the back end of (Pittsburgh's) order and they did a pretty good job in the first inning."

Bumgarner retired the first two batters he faced before walking third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who entered batting just .130. Josh Bell singled and Francisco Cervelli hit a two-run double. The exit velocity barrage continued a bit longer, and singles by Pablo Reyes and JB Shuck made it 4-0 before the rain drops on the dugout seats had even had time to dry. Bumgarner threw 38 pitches in the inning. 

"They weren't all bad pitches but a lot of them were," he said. "You've got to give those guys credit. With two outs and nobody on, to score four, that's hard to do even in batting practice."

[RELATED: Marte, Gonzalez collide violently]

The first-inning blip was the only one for Bumgarner, who has always had a good time in this park. In his next five innings he allowed just two singles and struck out six. 

But the damage had been done. It was an uphill climb, and as they've done for most of a month now, the Giants didn't approach the summit.

Watch Pirates' Starling Marte, Erik Gonzalez collide violently vs. Giants

Watch Pirates' Starling Marte, Erik Gonzalez collide violently vs. Giants

There was a really scary moment in the top of the eighth inning between the Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Giants infielder Yangervis Solarte popped a ball up behind second base. Pirates center fielder Starling Marte and shortstop Erik Gonzalez converged on the ball and collided violently in center field.

Both players stayed down for several minutes. The Pirates' trainer raced out to check on both players and had to keep switching between Marte and Gonzalez since both were in considerable pain.

[RELATED: Duggar robs Musgrove of extra bases]

Gonzalez was able to walk off on his own power, but a cart was brought out to take Marte to the clubhouse.

The Pirates have yet to release an injury update on the players, but let's hope both players didn't suffer any type of serious injury.