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Archive for Saturday, July 19, 2008

Commentary: Yankees logical Bonds destination

July 19, 2008

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While one of the greatest jocks of our times stalks the eyes of America, because he wants to come back and play, another extraordinary athlete with the same desire has taken the opposite approach.

This guy has been silent and reclusive, letting his representative speak for him.

But Barry Bonds, according to his agent, also wants to return. He wants to reunite with major league baseball as badly as Brett Favre wants to dive back into the NFL.

It's Favre, though, who engages the imagination of a handful of teams. Half the teams in the league would consider hiring the quarterback, and most likely would extend an offer.

Favre, 38, will have numerous options. We'll have to endure tedious updates for another week or two, but he'll be throwing passes by September.

By then, Bonds could be the cleanup batter for a team in a playoff race.

Given his infamy, though, he won't have nearly as many options as Favre.

A's fans debate the idea, but he's not coming to Oakland. The Angels? A long shot that shouldn't be ruled out. Tampa Bay? Rumored to have been interested, but Bonds would be an odd fit. The Dodgers and Mets could use his bat, but National League teams don't need DHs.

Really, there is only one place capable of absorbing everything Barry brings to a lineup, to a clubhouse, to a ballpark, to an organization and a city.

New York. The Yankees.

How perfect would that be? Arguably the greatest controversial player ever, conceivably the best hitter ever and certainly the most provocative figure in sports today taking his act to the Big Apple.

Indeed, it almost seems such a magnificent and tainted and outsized career would not be complete without a spin in pinstripes, a tour on America's grandest sports stage.

The Yankees haven't dismissed the possibility. When you're in New York, spending an MLB-high $207 million to buy a championship and approaching the trade deadline in third place, you're willing to explore all options.

When one of your left-handed hitting outfielders, Hideki Matsui, may be out for the season, you can become desperate.

When another left-handed hitting outfielder, Johnny Damon, is out indefinitely, you become the franchise that can't sleep, in the city that never sleeps.

"I would say any rampant speculation on us involving a player of that magnitude (Bonds) would be extremely premature," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters at the All-Star game. "I would caution everybody not to misunderstand that since I'm not saying no to it, that that means, 'Oh my gosh, that that might be happening down the line.' It's not something we're focused on at this point."

So, yes, Bonds intrigues the Yankees. They know his agent, Jeff Borris, claims Barry could be ready within two weeks, and that he posted an absurd .480 on-base percentage in 2007.

They also know his desire to play is strong enough that money will not be an issue. Borris announced that his client would play for the minimum salary - and donate it to buy tickets for children.

Pick up the phone, Yankees, and unleash your mighty roar. Remind everybody why you're the bully in every room you enter.

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