Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Media Fine Whine: Complaint About Bonds Not Hitting Homers

Ann Killion of the Merc is starting to get me riled up. She had been objective, in my opinion, regarding Bonds for the longest time, but sometime in the past year or so, she started to act like a woman scorned regarding Bonds. She would write a column about some other topic regarding the Giants then slip in the knife at the end, some dig on Bonds and, of course, Balco/steroids.

Maybe my speculation is true, that the Merc is kissing up to the A's with them moving down south to Fremont and how better than to bash Bonds and the Giants? Unscientific, but I've noticed many a time where the A's would get the front page of the sports while the Giants are buried inside. And I don't see a lot of positive-slant columns regarding the Giants, I still see the old refrain about the Giants farm system, even while the rotation is poising to be one of the best around - with 3 from the farm system.

Today, Ann wrote a column, "Giants paid for HRs, and Bonds isn't hitting 'em". Could be coincidence, plus at least they weren't totally brain dead and gave Lincecum the top headline, but this column could have been written anytime recently, particularly this weekend, why put it out the same day Lincecum does great again?

Where do I begin? How about the elephant in the room: Bonds has 11 home runs, tied for fourth in the NL, 6th in the majors. So only 3 have more in the NL, 5 in the AL. So how does that mean he isn't hitting 'em?

Before the season began, there was debate that Bonds was aging and therefore it was questionable whether he would pass Aaron this season in the eyes of many observers and opinion makers and analysts. But after hitting 11 so quickly, they clearly were all wrong, in fact, probably everybody was wrong, who would have predicted 11 homers by, what was it, May 8th that he would hit 11 by then? Even 11 by today is still TWO WHOLE MONTHS before when many prognosticators were predicting he would get 11, based on the rate of HR hitting they were envisioning.

None of this is mentioned at all during the article.

She then is at least aware that the column is a bit off since he has had HR slumps before and, while throwing in a dig about Greg Anderson, his longest since August 2000. But really, what was that "slump"? 36 at bats. What is his slump now? 34 at bats. So, what, the world will end if he doesn't homer by his 40th at bat? 50th at bat?

She also takes a dig at him when he says that he's tired from all the walks he's getting, saying that "is not exactly a great strategy for drawing fewer walks and getting more pitches to hit." But he's been saying this for years, what, the opposing team NOW takes notice he said this? No, they have known this for years now, but they didn't do it as much last year when he wasn't hitting as well, but after his great start this year, he's being walked a lot again.

In addition, she complains about his lack of RBI's since then as well. All together, a dry spell of 2 weeks, but, as she notes later on, he's played 41 of 45 games, and didn't note that the Giants just came off a stretch of 28 games in 29 days, which should tire most ballplayers out, young or old. Plus, you can't drive in many runs without homers when you get walked with runners on base. In the 12 games since May 8th, 18 walks to go with his 5 hits. 4 runs scored, but I'm guessing there were about 2-4 runs scored where a pinch-runner came in for him late in the game.

Then she explains herself a little but again it is not satisfactory. Why all the angst she says? First is the nation's eyes are on him. Newsflash, but the nation's eyes have been on him for a long time now. Maybe world's eyes would have been better to use, but so what if their eyes are on him? He's never been one to care either way.

I think the more salient point is that the drought occurred while on the road. When the time came for historic type of homers that he hits, he tends to end up doing a lot of it at home. But after such a long road trip, with only one scheduled day of rest, plus I think he didn't play the Sunday before that day, he's played a lot more baseball than he had last year or even 2004, his last season before his knee problems, so though he's home, he's tired. And another big road trip beckons after this weekend.

Second, there's talk about his age, he'll be 43 soon. And his injuries, apparently he had mentioned a hamstring was bothering him to her colleague, Andrew Baggarly, plus she harped on his surgically repaired knees (didn't bother to note his surgically repaired elbow, which was operated on a decade ago or so, or that he was operated on during the off-season to clear out bone chips/spur that was bothering him last season).

Well, if he just came off a stretch where he hit 11 homers in 5 weeks, I think mentioning his age in regards to his production is stupid, you don't magically pass this threshold and suddenly you are old and go from 11 HR to 0 HR, lickety split. What, should be now be worried about Albert Pujols because he is not hitting as many as thought, or even Ryan Howard, Mister 50+ Homeruns, nearly 60 last season, and he's hitting terribly, with only 6 homers? No, it is just a bad stretch, even the best go through them and 34 ABs is not that long to go without homers, give him a break.

Oh yeah, forgot, they like to break his balls anytime they can.

Well, he has 11 homers, that's probably 5 more than what most people were expecting from him and certainly no one was predicting that he would be in the top 10, almost top 5, in the MAJORS, in homeruns at the end of May. He's also coming off a long stretch where he played all these games - more than he usually does, she at least noted that he played in 41 of 45, which is 3 more than the "same stretch" last year (not sure if she meant 45 games or May 22nd, could make a difference with the games rained out this year). Why not at least give him some praise for playing all those games, Alou couldn't beg him to play that many games, but Bochy somehow got him to agree to so many games.

After 11 home runs, he can coast a little and still be doing well, home run wise. And while RBI's would be great, true Giants fans have known for a while that Bonds cannot drive in runs when the opposing team walks him with runners on base. It is up to Durham and whoever hits 6th (Molina seems to be winning that role) to drive in Bonds and, frankly, Durham has not been doing his job the best it can be, sure he has 12 RBI in the month, but he's hitting only .220/.300/.339/.639 and Bonds has scored only 4 runs during the past two weeks (maybe 6-8 in total to include pinch-runners). Perhaps it was his leg problems, that he finally had to rest over the weekend, that had been bothering him. Let's see how that goes over the next couple of weeks, we need someone hot behind Bonds to get teams to pay for walking him.

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