It would be interesting to recount the career of SF Giants’ legend Barry Bonds in the same fashion as “The Last Dance.”
While most major American sports remained sequestered in offseason or on pause as leagues try to reset themselves to occur amidst a global pandemic, sports nostalgia is selling at an all-time high.
ESPN (more specifically ESPN Films) took advantage by expediting the release of a 10-part documentary series titled The Last Dance, which centered around Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.
The documentary itself was questionably executed. In the end, it was more of a commercial for Michael Jordan given his editorial control. Still, there’s no denying the series was entertaining television and drew in record audiences for a project of its kind.
Since the conclusion of The Last Dance, ESPN has unleashed a two-part documentary series on Lance Armstrong with projects on Bruce Lee and the 1998 home run record chase coming over the coming waits.
Yet, fans around the world of sports have been hotly debating who else they would like to see featured in a 10-part series.
Many have looked to other NBA stars or dynasties, including the recent Golden State Warriors run featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant, but overlooked in the discussion is a different Bay Area icon — SF Giants legend Barry Bonds.
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SF Giants’ legend Barry Bonds is one of the most iconic figures in sports history.
Not only is Bonds one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, but his story is filled with interesting and complicated transgressions that most fans are no longer aware of.
Furthermore, Bonds as a player was even less open and forthcoming with the public than Jordan. The reality is we really know virtually nothing about Bonds and his perspective on the world around him.
Bonds was born into a baseball family. His father was a great player in his own right and Willie Mays, the greatest SF Giants (and arguably MLB) player of all-time was Barry’s godfather.
Bonds grew up surrounded by the best baseball players in the world and got to work alongside them. Any opportunity to interview Willie Mays and the cast of characters from Bobby’s time in MLB would surely include a number of hidden gems.
His arrival in Pittsburgh coincided with the temporary rise of the Pirates organization in the early 90s that seemed to be forming a dynasty around Bonds and teammate Bobby Bonilla that never came to fruition.
When he came to San Francisco, Bonds was the first major acquisition of the late Peter Magowan after he purchased the franchise and prevented the San Francisco Giants from becoming whatever they would have in St. Petersburg, Florida.
His acquisition coincided with an incredible 31-game turnaround for a Giants team that won over 100 games, but missed the playoffs because MLB had yet to implement a wild-card postseason system.
Even the steroid element of Bonds’ story is far more intriguing than that of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Unlike those players who came of age alongside steroid usage, Bonds’ stardom traversed the era.
He emerged as a star and already was considered one of the greatest players of all-time before ever using performance-enhancing drugs.
It was Bonds’ very Jordan-esque desire to be considered the best that drove him to take steroids and put up the most productive offensive MLB seasons anyone has ever had. In those years there is a long cast of characters from those SF Giants teams.
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Imagine stories from Dusty Baker, J.T. Snow, Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter, Royce Clayton, and-most interestingly-Jeff Kent. Hearing Bonds open up about them and those players talk about the team dynamics would be incredibly interesting even for non-Giants fans.
Perhaps most compelling about Bonds is what he didn’t accomplish. Obviously a long documentary series would dive into Balco and the congressional testimony, indictment, and Greg Anderson’s time in jail.
However, unlike Jordan, Bonds didn’t choose to walk away.
After continuing to produce like one of the best hitters in baseball in 2007 Bonds searched for employment, but couldn’t get an offer from the league.
He never won a championship (even though he played incredibly in the 2002 World Series) and continues to be kept out of the hall of fame. After a one-year stint as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins, Bonds has been relatively removed from the public eye.
He still holds a positive place in many Giants fans’ hearts, but his longstanding legacy remains mired in fans’ opinions of PEDs and how to reconcile a player never winning a championship.
Only Bonds knows if he’d be willing to sit down and truly open up about his decisions, but it sure is fun to dream. And just in case you’re looking for a director Barry, I’d be happy to offer my services.