Friday, May 14, 2004

I hear & read about all these articles on why we need to change the game of baseball just because teams won't pitch to Barry Bonds. Frankly, I am tired of the whining. If Barry Bonds wants to see some pitches to hit, he only needs to turn in one direction...the management of the San Francisco Giants. Teams know they can score on the weak pitching staff the Giants have put together. They also know the only way the Giants can out score them is if they let Barry Bonds beat them. You see, the Giants don't have any hitters around Barry Bonds for teams to be afraid of. Jeff Kent, the only player the Giants had who had some pop in his bat, is off doing his thing in Houston.

Teams decided early in April to go ahead and pitch to Bonds & they got burned. He hit over .400 and smashed some tape measure drives into McCovey Cove. Teams in May decided, "why are we being so stupid" and pitched to everyone else except Bonds. Does it come back to bite them? Sure, every once in a while you'll here of the game where Bonds walked three times and scored two or all three of those times. But more often than not it works. Through May 12th, the No. 5 hitters for the Giants were hitting .192 (5 for 26, with one walk) this year following Bonds' intentional walks. And Bonds has scored after only seven of his 27 intentional walks….about once every four times he gets the intentional free pass.

That brings us back to the original point, "do we need to change the rules" as Jason Stark suggests in his article posted at Of course not. Did we change the rules in basketball because Shaq can’t shoot free throws (can anyone say Hack-A-Shaq)? Did we change the rules in football because coaches decided to double team Jevon Kearse so he can’t get all those sacks? No. The Key is to surround the great players with enough good players so that you make them pay for doing things like this. If Bonds was batting 4th with Jeff Kent 3rd and Carlos Delgado 5th you think teams would be so eager to put him on base?

What it boils down to is this…Don’t do something radical to the game just because one individual stands out (think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the ban of dunking in his college days). If the Giants don’t win this year I don’t want to hear the crying from the fans in the Bay Area…there’s enough whine in NorCal already. If the Giants had a few more hitters to protect Bonds OR they had a top pitching staff where teams would be afraid to put runners on base, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

In the Article by Stark, Sandy Alderson of the A’s says, “"If we're talking Hack A Shaq you have to think about it this way: Is it better for the game for Shaq to be as dominant as he can -- and should you change the rules to make that more likely? Or should it be survival of the fittest, and clubs have to be creative in finding a better way to attack Shaq? The way it stands now, his responsibility is to become a better free-throw shooter. That would stop it.

"And the way it stands now, the best solution with Bonds is just to find a better guy to hit behind him. And not just in the fifth spot, but in the fifth and sixth spot. That's how you make teams pitch to him. You don't have to change the rules."

I couldn’t have said it better myself.