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The Rant

Forget what the media say -- start appreciating Bonds

Posted: Thursday March 2, 2006 9:58AM; Updated: Friday March 3, 2006 1:13AM
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What was the first thought that ran through your head when you saw the photos and/or video of Barry Bonds dressed as Paula Abdul earlier this week? It was probably, "What the hell is this?" or, "That's one ugly woman."

The first thing I thought was, "That's interesting, all his teammates are cracking up, but I thought they hated Barry's guts."

Then I remembered that it's the media that hates Bonds. Fans outside of San Francisco hate him, too, but that's because they've been brainwashed by the media, who long ago made Bonds Public Enemy No. 1 and never let anyone forget it.

Now, if your sole reason for hating Barry is the steroid mess, then that's your prerogative and you should stop reading this column right now. But you should open your eyes and realize that Bonds, Jason Giambi and Rafael Palmeiro were hardly the only players using steroids. You'd be a fool not to think the majority of players were using illegal substances. Remember, Matt Lawton was busted for steroids, and he hasn't put up Barry Bonds numbers. Also remember that Bonds was winning MVPs long before the steroid scandal rocked baseball.

But putting the steroid issue aside, what has been Bonds' biggest crime other than loathing the media?

He has been the game's best player for years. He's shown loyalty to the Giants, spending 13 seasons in San Francisco and never complaining about his contract. In 2003, he was the 10th highest-paid player. The season after that he was the fifth-highest . Most big leaguers in his spot would have thrown a fit about that.

There's no evidence of Barry being a bad teammate. The only player who's said anything against is Jeff "The Car Washer" Kent -- hardly the poster boy for beloved teammate. How many teams has Kent been on in his career?

I remember being shocked late in the 2001 season when Bonds was chasing the single-season home run record and his teammates would run out of the dugout to high-five him after a dinger. I had heard so much about Barry having three lockers and a barcalounger in the locker room. According to the media, that was supposed to be a hazardous thing for the Giants. That luxury chair was dividing the team. Could you believe the gall of the best player in the game getting some perks? Yet, when Barry set the record, he was mobbed at home plate and his teammates celebrated right along with him.

And now, at 41, with a knee that is shot, Bonds hasn't demanded a trade to an AL team, on which he could DH. And he's said he won't go to an AL team next season either. He wants to retire as a Giant. That loyalty should be commended in this day and age.

So for all those who aren't in the media but find yourselves hating Barry, open your eyes this season. Watch closely and ignore the media's agenda. Watch how his teammates treat him. Watch how he changes a game just by being in the lineup. Watch how he carries the Giants on his back. You just may gain a new appreciation for one of the top five players of all time. Keep hating him if you want, but you'll never see a player like Bonds again.