Barry Bonds had a press conference where he basically flipped the assembled media the finger Tuesday. Words like combative, defiant and angry have been used to describe the tone of his comments. Throw the steroid and BALCO controversies in the mix, and I’m surprised Bonds didn’t bring a flamethrower to the meeting. Most people assume this is just Barry being Barry; that he never had much use for the media in general.
I just think Barry Bonds doesn’t care for white people much.
Oh, I’m sure he has white friends (Greg Anderson, AKA Mr. Flaxseed oil, comes to mind). And he has proven bedding down with a shapely white woman is not beneath him. But the average, run of the mill white person? Not so excited about. Unfortunately for Barry, he has chosen a profession where he is surrounded by average, run of the mill white people. And they want autographs and pictures. And to ask him personal questions in the locker room and at press conferences.
Where was Bonds’ opinion of white people formed? Look no further than his father (the late Bobby Bonds, major league player), his godfather (Willie Mays, considered the best living baseball player) and the man who holds the home run record Bonds is currently chasing (Henry Aaron). I have not a stitch of proof, but I believe Bonds saw his father and godfather treated poorly by the media during and after their playing careers as he grew up. He probably heard them bitterly talk about it around the dinner table. In private. In the bitter tones that come from having to smile and be the bigger man in public.
Hank Aaron may be the best person to use an example of where Bonds attitude may come from. Aaron caught hell for having the audacity to break Babe Ruth’s all time home run record. Not ‘did you take steroids’ hell. More like ‘if you play today, I’ll shoot that nigger head of your shoulders’ hell. Aaron had to just take it. And he is still mad. He can’t come out and say it (he is getting a nice salary from the Atlanta Braves to not complain about not having anything to do), but he is more bitter than skunky beer left outside in the summer. Trust me; shoot some truth serum into Aaron and he will make Paul Mooney sound like Wayne Brady.
Bonds knows this and truly respects Aaron for what he had to go through as much as his baseball accomplishments. One topic you can get Bonds to talk about is Aaron. He has suggested it is more important to him to pass Babe Ruth than it is to pass Hank Aaron, using the weak argument that both he and Ruth are left handed hitters. As opposed to the glee he will feel besting the great white hope of home runs.
The cold war between Bonds and the media will continue until far after he ends his baseball career, with both sides entrenched in their respective positions. The one good thing for Bonds to think about is the last all time great to have this contentious relationship with the media was Ted Williams. Not a bad person to be compared to if you are a baseball player. And the good news for the media is, with Bonds’ age and failing knees, they won’t have to deal with him much longer.