Bradford Applin

Lemonade, check. Hotdog, check. Cheetos, check. Remote, check. TiVo recording in order to ensure replay of all unintentionally comedic moments, check. Pen and paper to record random ramblings of consciousness, check.

Few times have I been as prepared (like say, for instance, any final at Cal Poly) as I was Tuesday afternoon for ESPN’s newest show, “Bonds on Bonds.” The premise: A reality show staring Barry Bonds – the most controversial and perplexing figure in sports this side of Terrell Owens – that chronicles his season as he prepares to pass Babe Ruth and possibly Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list.

It seemed like a can’t-miss combination of combustible elements:The inevitability of Bonds snapping the 999,999 time he was asked if he took steroids, and the potential conflict of interest with ESPN creating entertainment out of the news they are supposed to be reporting. So what happened?

Of course it missed – it missed the mark about as much as a four-pitch intentional walk to Bonds – and had a similar level of excitement. The reality show should have been titled, “Bonds and Friends on Why Bonds is Misunderstood and Really a Good Guy.”

Perhaps the only redeemable moments from this week’s show came from getting the chance to look at video of Bonds before and after steroi … err – “supplements.” One moment you see a clip of Bonds in his Pittsburgh Pirates or early Giants days with his cheesy pirate mustache nimbly stealing one of his 506 career stolen bases. The next, the editors cut to Bonds in his present state with his head the size of Zordon (no reference needed) and an all-knowing attitude to match. First and foremost, it’s downright disturbing, but the video is also evidence enough to convict Bonds of “flaxseed oil” use in any court of public opinion.

Speaking of disturbing moments: between Phil Mickelson winning the Masters, the premiere of “Bonds on Bonds” and Hurley from “Lost” having his own episode, this has been a watershed week for “moobs” everywhere.

But besides focusing on Bonds’ newest area of fat storage, the cogs and gears in my brain slowly began to align and ponder this thought: What would baseball be like without Barry Bonds?

Not just, “What if Bonds never took steroids?” I mean, what if Barry Bonds never made it into MLB? What if he had decided somewhere along the line that having a father who played professional baseball and a Hall of Fame godfather, Willie Mays, was too much pressure? What if he had decided to bring his metaphorical tool kit of dysfunctional social skills, immaturity and one-dimensional work ethic to another profession?

Not only does this necessitate the creation of a Web site that explores all of Bonds’ squandered careers (opera tenor singer comes to mind) it also opens up huge questions about baseball. How would this alternate baseball dimension look? What would I have written about this week? Let’s see-

Obviously, the fate of the San Francisco Giants franchise would have been altered. Will Clark, Matt Williams and (shudder) Kevin Mitchell would stand out as the most memorable Giants hitters of the last two decades. I won’t include Jeff Kent, because no one else has rode the coattails of another hitter the way Kent used his spot in the lineup behind Bonds to earn the 2000 National League MVP. Bonds’ well-publicized dispute with Kent is one of the few areas I give Bonds a free pass: Kent should be paying taxes to Bonds. No Bonds means no rise to stardom for Kent.

Without Bonds playing left field for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1992 NLCS, you could argue that a more defensive-oriented outfielder would have thrown out the winning run, thereby defeating the Atlanta Braves in game seven and sending the Pirates to the World Series. Without that huge psychological damage to the franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates could have gone on to become a dominant team. Well, probably not.

But Sportscenter could certainly have a void to fill in its coverage of baseball. Without the seemingly daily Bonds update, they would be forced to focus on interesting current events, like Jimmy Rollins’ hit streak (which rolled to a stop at 38 games, only three games into this season).

Mark McGwire would still hold the record for most home runs in a single season with 70, and the baseball community would still probably be in blissful ignorance with regards to steroids. The result: McGwire would have continued to rise as a public icon long after his retirement in 2001, filming countless McDonalds commercials increasing the sale of Big Macs 300 percent worldwide. In addition, Sammy Sosa’s “Berry, Berry Sundae” that tastes, “Berry, Berry Good to Me,” would currently be available at a Dairy Queen near you.

All of this would have culminated this year in an enormous, cross-promotional, bronze, 100-foot statue of McGwire overlooking St. Louis’ new Bush Stadium designed to take a bite out a burger after every Cardinals home run. “Hey, it could happen.”

Without Barry, Jose Canseco would never have had the initiative to write his expose book on steroids. The lack of revenue from book sales would have forced Canseco to sell his 1989 World Series ring, his 1986 Rookie of the Year ring, his 1988 ALCS championship ring and his 1990 ALCS ring. Wait, you mean he’s doing that anyway?

They are available right now on his Web site, JoseCanseco.com? He’s selling his World Series ring for the low, low price of $18,544? You mean he’s still that desperate?

Even with Barry, I guess some things never change.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.