With Barry Bonds currently out of work and teams looking to improve their lot in MLB, the Shunned One's name will undoubtedly be brought up countless times this season. So, each week until Mr. Bonds catches a fulltime ride, the Stew will feature teams that might be able to use his impressive services.
The question will be a simple one: Should your team finally take the plunge and sign the most controversial man in sports? Today's argument comes from one Mr. Baron von Snakin, an amateur comedian/corporate communications officer from Kansas City who uses that nom de plume so that he may still be allowed to enter a Red Lobster if he gets a hankering for orange roughy and hush puppies.
Which is often.
The Baron's argument continues below:
Kansas City is a great city — a city of barbecue, jazz, and fountains. You should visit sometime.
Sure, we may not have much of a public school system or road maintenance or mass transit or any semblance of racial diversity, but we love what we do have. That includes the Royals, who haven't made the playoffs in 23 years and have been on the winning side of .500 just once in the past 13.
And we don't need Barry Bonds coming in here and messing it all up.
Quite frankly, winning streaks and full stadiums hold no allure for us (let this be the first of many gross generalizations about what "we" Kansas Citians like and don't like). We like buying inexpensive seats and sitting in expensive seats instead, parking 200 feet from the stadium entrance, helmet sundaes, and having Sluggerr — our cheerful, hugtastic mascot — shoot free hot dogs into the upper deck with his military-issue air cannon.
You see, being a Royals fan is an easy and even existence. We expect very little and always get what we expect. By May 1 we've already switched from "Whad'ya think the boys in blue will do this year?" to "At this pace, they'll set a modern-era record for the least amount of _____" (This year it's run production).
Sure, you can make a pretty good quantitative case for signing Bonds, pointing to the potential for increased ticket and merchandise sales. You could point to his efficiency at the plate. You could probably even prove that his once-mighty bat could still win some games.
If the Royals sign Bonds, though, there will be people in this city who get hopeful. And Kansas City isn't about hope; it's about comfort. It's about putting on a fresh pair of Zubaz, getting in your Bonneville and driving from your $200,000 mansion to the neighborhood Red Lobster for a dinner of cheddar biscuits and deep-fried shellfish. Signing Barry Bonds would bring hope, which would inevitably lead to expectation, which would inevitably lead to disappointment.
Here's how it goes: The Royals sign Bonds (probably for a case of Wal-Mart gift cards). People are intrigued, and Kauffman Stadium fills past half-capacity. Lines begin to form for beer, barbecue, and the bathroom. Fans get cranky. Prices go up. Fans get crankier. Some jackass sneaks a kayak into the right field fountain, hoping to fish out a piece of history. Said jackass is electrocuted and every second of the gruesome affair is displayed on the world's largest HD scoreboard. Every child in the stadium is traumatized by the remarkably clear image and pungent aroma of boiling flesh. Fueled by the trauma, these children immediately grow into confused, angry adults, afraid of water and kayaks and cotton candy. They form violent street gangs, borders dissolve, and our once peaceful region settles into a constant state of war.
And that's just the first week.
You probably think I'm being melodramatic, or perhaps just plain crazy. Fine, there are actual sports-related reasons to not sign Barry. Most importantly, he doesn't fill a need for the Royals. Jose Guillen is currently serving in the role of overpaid, underperforming, implicated power hitter (don't worry, I hear he's just a "slow starter"). Mark Grudzielanek is already the go-to guy for zany cross-dressing shenanigans. Billy Butler is all the alliteration that this town needs, or could even handle.
I guess you could point to Barry's OBP. But what's the point of getting on base with this team? Trey "T-Hill" Hillman has put together a scrappy crew that really mixes it up, stealing bases, squeezing and what not. I don't see Bonds, quickly approaching 50, sliding under the tag at second, or laying down a tasty bunt and hustling it out to first. I do, however, imagine him standing on first base for long stretches of time as Kauffman Stadium security extricate another poached kayaker from the fountain while parents answer the question: "Mummy, why is that sleeping man all red and bubbly?"
Truth is, we know that we're never going to see another George Brett, Steve Balboni or Bob "Hammer" Hamelin in KC. The glory days are gone. Speaking of Springsteen, I think he aptly summarizes how most of us feel about the Royals. "You ain't a beauty, but hey, you're alright. Oh and that's alright with me." It is alright. We don't need no Barry Bonds to make us feel good about ourselves. For that we have barbecue, jazz, and 22 area Red Lobsters.
A big BLS thanks to KC's Baron Von Snakin for his thoughts and warm wishes as he and the Missus search for a new $200K mansion of their own. Read more of The Barry Bonds Job Watch here and if you have an argument for why your team should or shouldn't sign Bonds, e-mail 'Duk here.