Jeff Pearlman

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Barry Bonds was Donald Trump—and the Giants ultimately returned to normalcy

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The closest person I have ever seen (up close) to Donald Trump is Barry Bonds.

Back in the early 2000s I devoted myself to reporting on the Giants’ slugger for the biography, “Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Anti-Hero.” I spent long days observing him, chronicling him, interviewing people about him. I learned more about Barry Bonds than anyone who played in the Majors between, oh, 1990-2010, and here’s what I can tell you: Barry Bonds is Donald Trump. And Donald Trump is Barry Bonds.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, this: Like Trump, Barry was a destroyer of societal norms. Until he arrived in San Francisco, there were clubhouse/team rules that applied to all. You were expected to act a certain way, behave a certain way. When Bonds signed, however, he basically said, “Fuck that.” Whereas past superstars were allotted two lockers, Bonds took an entire wall. Whereas past superstars had the same team-issued chair as everyone else, Bonds brought in his own leather recliner. Whereas past superstars watched the same TV screens as the scrubs and coaches, Bonds acquired his own large-screen television to place at the base of his chair.

In the past, a Giant superstar in need of stretching used the team trainer. Bonds hired his own. Bonds had his own photographer following him around, his own tandem of publicists. Bonds spoke to the media when he wanted to speak to the media. The Giants’ PR staff? Fuck them. It was his show.

And here’s the thing: It worked for Barry Bonds. He ignored norms, and the norms crumbled. Bonds did as he wanted; behaved as he decided to behaved. Very few members of the Giants were happy about it, but they grumbled beneath their breaths and waited for the day he would be gone.

When Bonds finally left, the norms returned. People found they actually preferred order to a system of royals. They wanted community. They wanted cohesion. And, while the post-Bonds Giants have never had a star of Barry’s level, they’ve been a far better team without him.

You can see the parallels. They’re obvious.

I believe, even in these dark times, that we will be a better country once Donald Trump leaves.

We just need to absorb the hell.

  • James Joyce

    As the great Pai Mei once said in Kill Bill-
    “It’s the wood that should fear your hand, not the other way around. No wonder you can’t do it, you acquiesce to defeat before you even begin.”

    STOP FEARING DONALD TRUMP. NO, WE WILL NOT ACQUIESCE AND WAIT OUT HIS TERM. PERIOD.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life