The Pittsburgh Pirates made a bold move when they signed veteran superstar and beloved former Bucco Andrew McCutchen.
I love Cutch. Besides being an outstanding Pirate centerfielder from 2009-’17 and league MVP in ‘13, McCutchen plays the game like a kid. He laughs, he jokes, he cheers his teammates and generally cavorts like he can’t believe he’s getting $5 million a year to play a game.
Frankly, and as much as I adore McCutcheon, I can’t believe it either. I guess it becomes more and more believable every time saps like me plunk down $18 for one can of domestic ballpark brew.
So it’s good to have him back and I applaud owner Bob Nutting for making what is essentially a sentimental move that won’t do much to alter projections of another last place finish.
That’s why I encourage Nutting to make an even bolder move by signing 58-year-old former Buc Barry Bonds, Bonds is a tougher sell because he comes with a lot of baggage — and most of it is filled with steroids, needles and fraudulent prescription orders.
Bonds was a Pirate from ’86 to ’92. He was surly, a clubhouse cancer and earned a reputation for being a playoff choker.
He left Pittsburgh — good riddance! — to become a San Francisco Giant and begin his pursuit of one of the most hallowed records in all sports: Henry Aaron’s all-time home run record of 755..
The 7-time MVP ended his career in 2007 with 762 homers. He spent the next two years trying in vain to persuade even one of the 30 MLB teams to sign him. None did, an indication of just how toxic he’d become — and his toxicity wasn’t metaphorical. It was courtesy of BALCO.
But mighty dingers are not the reason the Bucs should bond with Bonds.
The reasons are humble singles, 65 of ‘em to be exact.
See, Bonds is just 65 base hits away from admittance to one of the few baseball clubs that can’t exclude him out of pique.
Yes, Bonds is just a few dozen hits away from becoming a member of MLB’s hallowed 3,000 hit club. There are just 33 players who’ve achieved the feat. How difficult is getting 3,000?
Only one Yankee’s ever done it, The great Derek Jeter.
Just about everyone loves a story of redemption. Those who do not often revel in mocking the failures of the strivers.
So Bonds returning offers, to the delight of all, both outcomes. Some will come to cheer, others to jeer.
But all will watch.
He had 167 hits in ’98, back when he was a fit 180 pounds.
Twenty-five years hence, he probably weighs close to 250. It’s likely he not only lost a step, he may even forgotten where he left the shoe.
His every at bat would be must-see TV. He’ll strike out plenty, but imagine if he gets wood on the ball. Him running the 90 feet to first would be a master class of frantic motion.
Now imagine if he tries for two. Or gets caught in a rundown. It would be a highlight reel of hilarious desperation.
And as bold as signing Bonds would be, it would pale in comparison to the greatest PR maneuver in free agent history.
That would be signing Ted Williams, 1918-2002. Those numbers aren’t obscure baseball stats. Those are the vitals denoting the duration of Williams mortal portion. He’s been dead 21 years.
R.B.I? More like R.I.P.
I give you one more number: minus-321 Fahrenheit. That’s the temperature really life sci-fi fans are keeping Williams’s detached head in hopes of one day bringing it back to life.
I don’t know what his first words will be upon reanimation, but I can pretty much guarantee they won’t be, “Where’s the can? I really gotta go!”
So it’ll take many hours of thawing by a warm campfire before one of the greatest hitters of all time to be declared on another hot streak.
His head is in the custody the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona until the time is right to reanimate it.
The Pirates haven’t been to the World Series since 1979.
The time is right now!
Signing Williams, one of the great baseball minds would benefit every level of the Pirate baseball operation — even if it’d be tough to have the Ted head do things like hit batting practice.
It wouldn’t be without precedent for the Pirates, an organization that for years has fielded bunches of stiffs who couldn’t get their heads in the game.
An outfield with Bonds, McCutcheon and the noggin of Williams would be a blow for diversity.
It would be the first time in history any team rostered an outfield of two black dudes and one white head.
You can be dismissive of my ideas, but my heart’s in the right place. I hope you’ll realize I’m just trying to help the Bucs get ahead.
This is one of the rare circumstances where getting a head will help you do just that.
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