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Bonds was almost a Brave in 1992!

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  • Bonds was almost a Brave in 1992!

    Good story: from the N.Y. Times
    March 11, 2006
    On Baseball
    Before Balco, Bonds Was Almost a Brave

    WITH Barry Bonds immersed in a renewed steroids frenzy, what could be more timely than a book disclosing that it might have all been avoided? Had the Pittsburgh Pirates not reneged on a trade in 1992, nine months before Bonds became a free agent and signed with the San Francisco Giants, Bonds would have been a member of the Atlanta Braves.

    And as John Schuerholz, the Braves' general manager, writes in his new book, "Built to Win" (Warner Books), he was confident the Braves could have signed Bonds to a long-term contract. "We were flying high back then," Schuerholz writes, "and our payroll was beginning to grow."

    The deal, Schuerholz writes, was done: Bonds for pitcher Alejandro Peña, outfielder Keith Mitchell and a prospect to be named. "I was euphoric," he writes. "Barry Bonds was a Brave!"

    The trade was to be announced the next day, and on that day, Schuerholz called his Pirates counterpart, Ted Simmons, to coordinate the timing of the announcement.

    The book, scheduled for publication April 2, relates the conversation between the two general managers:

    "We have a problem," Simmons said.

    "What do you mean, a problem?" Schuerholz said. "Don't want to release it just yet? What?"

    "I can't do the deal," Simmons said.

    Simmons went on to explain that when he told Jim Leyland, the Pirates' manager, about the trade, Leyland "blew up."

    Bonds was the Pirates' best player. With him as their primary threat, the Pirates had won the National League East Division title the previous two seasons and were considered likely to win it that year as well. (They did.) Bonds had been the National League most valuable player in 1990 and would be again the next two seasons after the aborted trade.

    "When informed of the trade," Schuerholz writes, "Jim went barging into Pirates President Cark Barger's office and, according to Ted, went absolutely haywire. He said Barger came back to him and said it was a situation so troublesome to the manager and this and that, they couldn't do the deal. And ultimately it was called off."

    Even though Bonds was a Brave for 15 hours, Schuerholz writes that he wasn't sure that Bonds ever knew about the trade. At the Giants camp here yesterday, Bonds said, "I know Leyland stopped them from trading me," but he didn't know specifically about the Braves.

    Schuerholz, who has been the Braves' general manager throughout their unparalleled run of 14 consecutive division championships, said he had never had a team back out of a trade before and hasn't had it happen since.

    Had the Pirates not backed out of that deal, Schuerholz writes, it "might have changed the course of baseball history in a number of ways." He added: "Though Barry couldn't have produced more division titles for us, might he have powered us to another World Series title or two? Would he have developed into the same prolific home run hitter he became in San Francisco after his move to the Giants?"

    The answer to the first question, based on Bonds's postseason history, is: probably not. The answer to the second question is: it depends. It depends on whether Bonds would have followed the same path he has with the Giants, whatever that has been.

    Another new book, "Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, Balco and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports," says Bonds was chemically aided in hitting many of his 708 home runs, including his record 73 in 2001.

    Schuerholz says he is confident Bonds would have been different in at least one area: his comportment. If Bonds had joined the Braves, "he would have quickly accepted our longstanding team rules regarding issues such as not wearing jewelry while in uniform and not being allowed a recliner at his locker instead of the simple, canvas captain's chair our other players have."

    "Nor would he have been accorded any other special star perk that might have set him apart and above his teammates," Schuerholz adds.

    As evidence of his confidence, Schuerholz cited Gary Sheffield, another nonconformist, and how, in his two years with the Braves, he accepted the Braves' rules.

    "Built to Win" also relates the story of Tom Glavine's defection from the Braves to the Mets as a free agent after the 2002 season.

    "We really wanted Tommy to stay," Schuerholz writes. And he almost did.

    Schuerholz tells of a heated six-hour meeting with Glavine at Turner Field and a subsequent meeting at Glavine's home in an Atlanta suburb. The second session came after Glavine had reached agreement with the Mets but hadn't taken the required physical or signed a contract.

    Having second thoughts, Glavine called Manager Bobby Cox, Schuerholz writes, telling him: "I made a mistake. I don't want to do this."

    The call led to another meeting with Schuerholz.

    Over a "great bottle of Silver Oak cabernet wine," the two negotiated a two-year contract.

    "After a lot of soul searching, Tommy decided that he was going to stay," Schuerholz writes.

    But on his way home from Glavine's house, Schuerholz relates, he received a telephone call from Glavine's agent, Greg Clifton, who was livid that he had met with his client alone, especially after Glavine had made a commitment to the Mets.

    The next day, Schuerholz writes, Glavine called him. "He explained simply that he had decided to stick with the Mets deal."

    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  • #2
    many thanx for the posting, wags.
    bonds down south with the braves translates into how many world series championships?

    "you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. just get people to stop reading them." -ray bradbury


    • #3
      That's the 2nd Braves slip on Bonds.

      The Pirates were going to send Bonds to the Braves in the 1980's for Andres Thomas (SS).

      The Braves said they had to have more than just Bonds for Thomas. Wow!

      Thomas= 577 G, .234 AVG, .255 OBP, .334 SLG, 42 HR...out of baseball after 1990 season (he was 26).

      I was at the game in Atlanta when Bonds hit 3-HR in one night to pass Mel Ott, Eddie Mathews & Ernie Banks in may, 2001. A Braves fan was screaming to Bonds that the Giants wouldn't re-sign him & that he should come play for the Braves.

      I yelled back that the Braves had their chance in the late 80's, but that just couldn't part with Andres Thomas. Bonds actually turned around towards us & laughed at that one.


      • #4
        thanx for sharing, robert.
        bonds much of the time does pay attention to what's goin' on.
        "you don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. just get people to stop reading them." -ray bradbury


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