Whether Barry Bonds deserves the Rays -- whether he deserves to play for any team in baseball -- is another question. But it's a question I'm willing to shelve for the remainder of the season. It's a question, in other words, I'm willing to ignore if it means an American League East title for the Rays, the biggest underdog in baseball.
|Bonds can level the playing field in the AL East. (Getty Images)|
You haven't done anything special, Red Sox and Yankees. You've spent your way to the top. You're the Paris Hilton of baseball, successful because you're rich, a winner only because there's no plausible way for you to lose.
But there's an implausible way for them to lose, and his name is Barry Bonds. So for the next two months, I can overlook his ugliness -- his body-by-BALCO, his mean-spirited narcissism -- if Bonds can put Tampa Bay over the top in the AL East.
Bonds-to-Tampa isn't my idea. It comes from a much better source: Giants general manager Brian Sabean. It was Sabean a few days ago who floated the idea of Bonds-to-Tampa to XM Radio's Kevin Kennedy and Jim Duquette. Bonds hasn't played since last season, but Sabean knows better than anyone that Bonds is a hitting savant. Here's what he told Kennedy and Duquette:
"In a lot of ways taking this time off physically, probably in his head, made him think he could still keep on playing -- and I don't doubt that," he said. "It doesn't take much for him to get ready, we all saw that in spring training. After 10 at-bats he'd get bored. ... I think it would be smart for Tampa Bay because they are in a very unique position. ... As history goes with baseball, with a chance to win that division against those two counterparts is pretty amazing."
Should the Rays pick up Barry Bonds?
No: He has too much baggage
Yes: He'd put them over the top
Total Votes: 7,119
Those comments came a few days after Bonds appeared at a Giants game and said, "I'm not retired." Bonds said he could be ready to play within 24 hours.
That SOB, he probably could.
Tampa Bay could sign Bonds on Monday and start him Tuesday against the Angels. He doesn't have to play the outfield, not ever, unless the Rays reach the World Series.
And the Rays could reach the World Series with Bonds. They might even get there without him. They went into Monday on top of the AL East, 4½ games ahead of Boston and 9½ ahead of the Yankees. Even after putting two of their best hitters on the disabled list -- Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford -- the Rays are competing. Since Longoria went down Aug. 7, the Rays have won six of eight games, and that's with Crawford going down Aug. 9.
The Rays are no mirage, but the attrition is adding up. Closer Troy Percival went on the DL on Friday, and outfielder B.J. Upton was benched Saturday for the second time in 10 days for not hustling. Logic suggests the Rays can't hold off Boston. It's possible they can't hold off the Yankees, or whoever finishes second in the AL Central, for the wild card. And if they don't make the playoffs, that would be tragic.
It's not like I'm a fan of the Rays. But I love a good story, and as Sabean said, it would be "pretty amazing" for them to fend off the game's two biggest spoiled brats. And let's be honest: The Rays are due. They've been cursed.