Barry Bonds made a special appearance at PNC Park to present Andrew McCutchen with his 2013 MVP Award prior to the Pirates opener on Monday afternoon. He was joined by Pirates legend Dick Groat and longtime manager Jim Leyland, who presented Clint Hurdle with his Manager of the Year award.
It made for an interesting scene, but the story coming in was definitely Bonds return to the city he called home from 1986-1992, and the story coming out of the ceremony is the reaction Bonds received from the sellout crowd on hand.
Bonds is undeniably among the most polarizing professional athletes in recent history based on his sketchy past with PEDs. It's a tag he'll never outrun or escape completely, but there was still some question about how he might be received back in the Steel City. After all, his tenure there pre-dated the controversy that would later engulf his career. And though he left town to sign a then-record six-year, $43 million free agent contract with the San Francisco Giants, it was Pittsburgh's decision to not offer him a contract.
Factor in the old adage about time healing all wounds and it would be understandable if the anger was tempered or even non-existent.
As it turns out, the reaction was actually a little bit of everything rolled into one.
All those in favor, say aye.
From field level it sounded like Pittsburgh showed more love for Barry Bonds than anger. 70-30 cheers-to-boos ratio.
— Jenn Menendez (@JennMenendez) March 31, 2014
Quick takeaways: Bonds smiled through entire press conference, happy to return w/Leyland, crowd seemed generally in favor, though some boos
— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) March 31, 2014
Those opposed, say nay.
Pirates fans boo Barry Bonds but he appears oblivious.
And Bonds gets booed. Big-time. Actually forces Greg Brown to pause.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) March 31, 2014
Apparently we can't even agree on what we heard. Is expanded replay for crowd reactions coming too?
To say it was a mixed reaction would be fair. To say it definitely leaned one way or the other would indicate you heard the sounds you wanted to hear a little louder than the others. But just the fact that people were cheering and voicing their approval shows there is hope for him to be forgiven in the places that are most important to him.
There will never be universal acceptance. That much he has to understand. But he can slowly rebuild bridges by giving back to the game as an instructor or even a presenter as he was on Monday.
It took him awhile, but it appears Barry Bonds is finally ready to take the proper steps toward rebuilding his image.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
- - - - - - -