I write this letter with more excitement and optimism regarding our Royals than I’ve had in my entire life. I was apprehensively excited in 2003, but I also couldn’t really believe that we could pull it out in the end. I doubt any of you really believed either – even after a 10-1 start. Today, however, I see real potential in our team, and I think we need to make a move in order to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we face.
Sign Barry Bonds. It makes sense. Don’t fear negative media attention. After decades of being a “AAAA” baseball team – a minor league team in the majors developing top-notch talent for the MLB powers – how can any Royals fan worry about being criticized by the rest of the baseball nation? The Royals won the World Series when I was one-year-old. They haven’t made the post-season since. It’s time. For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say that I believe the Royals have a chance to make a run at October this year.
Our pitching is unstoppable. No one can dispute that. Barring injuries, our starting rotation, Soria, and our bullpen (excepting Farnsworth, of course – sorry Dayton, but this was one move I cannot believe you made. $4.25 million?) will give us an opportunity to win almost every game we play. What Greinke, Meche, Davies, and now Bannister have done thus far is nothing short of remarkable. If they can stay healthy, we have a chance to win the AL Central. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but it’s true.
However, our hitting is abysmal. Embarrassingly bad. I believe in Alex Gordon’s talent, dedication, and ability to eventually grow into a productive offensive player. I know that Billy Butler can absolutely kill the ball – he just has to make contact. Coco Crisp was a great signing, and I think that keeping Mark Teahan this year was the best decision Moore’s made since he’s been a Royal. All that aside, we cannot produce enough runs to win in the American League. Our lineup simply isn’t made for it. Since Mike Sweeney, we haven’t had that dangerous bat in the lineup that could change any game with one swing.
This is why I’m making my plea today. Regardless of what you may think about him as a person, there is no questioning that Barry Bonds is one of the single best hitters in the history of this great game. He will come fairly cheap. He will jump at the opportunity to prove that he can still play this game. He is the hardest working baseball player I’ve ever seen, and I have no doubt that he can still hit. He can still hit better today than any player the Royals have had since Bo.
There is no skirting the issue – Barry Bonds used anabolic steroids. Barry Bonds lied about this fact – even worse, he did so to a grand jury. Barry Bonds is the last person I would ask to drive my mother to the doctor, or to be the Godfather of my eldest son. Notwithstanding the fact that he may not be the most admirable human being ever to grace this planet, the man can play baseball. I never had the good fortune to see Mays, Ruth, Williams, Aaron, or DiMaggio, but I have seen Barry. He is the best baseball player I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. Despite his age, health, and legal issues, I have no doubt that he would be the best hitter in a Royals uniform the second we signed him.
Look at it this way – Barry Bonds has been effectively blacklisted out of baseball because people think that his accomplishments were unfairly attained. I agree with this sentiment in general, but I also think that most everything about the way the MLB is run stinks of unfairness. “Greenies” are and have been a staple of clubhouse life for decades. Phil Neikro is a Hall-of-Famer. No one in the national media will ever acknowledge how great Jeff Montgomery’s career really was. Maybe worst of all, we Royals fans will probably never have an opportunity to love post-All-Star-break baseball the way that the Yankee, Met, Cub, Red Sox, Angel, or Dodger fan does. MLB’s lack of revenue sharing is simply unfair to Royals fans.
Further, not all known steroid users have been forced out of the game – only the very best of them. Gary Sheffield is in baseball. Miguel Tejada is in baseball. Jason Giambi is in baseball – hell, he was re-signed by the team he won an MVP for while on steroids. A-Rod is in baseball. And don’t be shocked if we find out that even Kyle Farnsworth was juicing when he was pretending to be an effective relief pitcher. It is hypocritical to claim that a player like Bonds doesn’t belong in the game because he did steroids, all the while we have Jose Guillen on our roster. Bonds is one thousand times the player Guillen could ever dream of being, and since no one else is interested in signing the best player of this generation, why not us?
Here’s the point, Royals fans: the Steroid Era in Major League Baseball happened. It’s still happening, though hopefully it’s on the decline. We have an opportunity to be one of the elite teams in the American League in 2009, but we need at least a semblance of an offense to do it. People will undoubtedly hoot, holler, and raise an all-out stink if the Royals were to bring Bonds on board. You know what I say? Let ‘em. I’ve been ruthlessly mocked throughout my 25 years – in every part of the country – for being a Royals fan. I’ve held on; I’ve stayed loyal; and I’ve dealt with years of emotional turmoil at the hands of David Glass. It’s time. Let’s make a move. Let’s get some national attention. Let’s make a run at the post-season. Let’s sign Barry Bonds.