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Barry Bonds never won a World Series. Here's what left him empty-handed.

May 05, 2020
(low orchestral music) - Barry Bonds was basically perfect at hitting baseballs. The son and godson of MLB greats, Bonds wielded astonishing bat speed and coordination. Plus an almost paranormal ability to read pitchers and predict

what

they would throw. In the '90s, Bonds became an elite multi-tool player. He hit hard, ran fast and, after moving to

left

field, he also learned to defend pretty well. Around the turn of the millennium, Bonds seemed to discover the joys of performance-enhancing drugs. He condensed the five tools from him into a divine mallet. An aging Bonds did nothing but slug in the 2000s and he did it better than anyone.
barry bonds never won a world series here s what left him empty handed
Those two discrete eras give Bonds a surprising list of accomplishments and accolades. A Gold Glove streak in the '90s plus a 40-40 season in '96. In the 2000s, all-time single-season records for home runs, slugging percentage, and walks were set. Because of that, Bonds earned 14 All-Star selections and a record seven NL MVP awards, including one at age 26 and another at age 40. And Bonds has some monumental career records, including the most home runs and walks ever produced. The Giants retired Bonds' number 25 and he would already be a Hall of Famer if people didn't think of him as a cheater.
barry bonds never won a world series here s what left him empty handed

More Interesting Facts About,

barry bonds never won a world series here s what left him empty handed...

Despite unparalleled production and acclaim, Bonds

left

baseball without a World Series ring. What exactly made that so? How did two good teams with the most dominant hitter on Earth not reach the championship? How did Barry Bonds end up without a title? First, some acknowledgments. One is the caveat that we're talking about baseball, which puts a strict limit on the influence of any individual player. You are restricted to one-ninth of the at-bats and can only field balls that come your way. Technically, Bonds could have hit 1,000 during his entire career and

never

won a game, much less a World Series, if the pitching and the rest of the lineup hadn't produced.
barry bonds never won a world series here s what left him empty handed
But t

here

is a caveat that we must also recognize from the beginning. Barry Bonds could be a pretty bad teammate. Bonds had famous explosions and fights in the dugouts. He generated some gloomy headlines off the field. And on top of all that, he was just plain cruel to many of the people around him. This is well documented and Bonds himself admits it. Baseball is as much a board game as it is a team sport, but to the extent that bad vibes can hinder baseball's success, the deterioration of Bonds' vibes must be considered. So, with this in mind, let's see

what

happened on the field.
barry bonds never won a world series here s what left him empty handed
Bonds debuted in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team with new ownership, a new coach in Jim Leyland and a rebuilding reputation after Pittsburgh's infamous drug tests and relocation threats the previous year. Bonds was a very good rookie and by 1990 he had become a beast in the batter's box, on the basepaths and in left field. He made his first All-Star team, won his first Gold Glove and was named National League Most Valuable Player for the first time. With Barry anchoring him, Bobby Bonilla trailing ahead of him, and contributions from veterans like Andy Van Slyke and Sid Bream, the Pirates hit very well and supported a strong pitching staff led by 1990 Cy Young winner Doug Drabek.
The Pirates won the NL East three straight seasons in an era when winning your division sent you directly to the National League Championship Series. But in each of these three seasons, Pittsburgh failed to reach the World Series. In 1990, Bonds endured a season-ending slump in his first postseason, recording six walks but only three singles in the entire

series

. With other stars also struggling, the Pirates fell in six games to the eventual World Champion Cincinnati Reds. The Pirates came a little closer in 1991, taking a 3-2

series

lead against the Atlanta Braves. But the potential deciding game in Pittsburgh was a pitching duel between Drabek and Steve Avery, and only Avery got minimal support to earn a 1-0 shutout.
The heart of Pittsburgh's batting order, Bonilla, Bonds and Van Slyke, couldn't allow a single hit between them and hardly did better against John Smoltz in a Game 7 loss. Bonds was quoted during the 1991 National League Championship Series as saying, "Baseball teams can't depend on one person." And for the second straight postseason, he backed it up. So, that's '90 and '91. The 1992 NLCS was different in some ways. In 1992, the Pirates were a sinking ship. To cut costs, they let Bonilla go to the Mets and traded All-Star pitcher John Smiley. It was a foregone conclusion that Bonds would leave in free agency at the end of the season.
And he almost left before. Bonds could have been the other side of that series. In the spring of 1992, Pittsburgh agreed to trade him to the Braves, but Leyland, exasperated by his crumbling roster, launched such an explosive attack that Pittsburgh backed out of the trade on the day it was supposed to be made public. Even exhausted, the Pirates continued to win. Van Slyke played one of his best seasons and Bonds won his second MVP. However, in games one through four of an NLCS rematch with the team that almost acquired him, Bonds looked his postseason self. The man one writer nicknamed "Mr.
Noctober," like Reggie Jackson but, you know, no, he had just one hit and no RBIs as Pittsburgh fell behind 3-1 in the series. Game 5, however, was something of a playoff breakthrough for Bonds. Prompted by a pep talk in which Leyland said: Hey, no matter what, you're about to become a free agent and you're going to get paid a lot, so have fun. Bonds produced. He had two hits, including this RBI double in the middle of a big first inning. He then made this total catch in the fourth inning to prevent Ron Gant from driving in a run.
Bonds stayed hot in Game 6, hitting his first postseason home run off Tom Glavine to lead off the second inning of a 13-4 Pittsburgh victory. - Deep in right field, way back and gone. - That set up another Game 7 in Atlanta and after eight innings, it looked like the Pirates were going to get their revenge. Bonds didn't do much with his bat, but Drabek was splendid on the mound. Pittsburgh entered the bottom of the ninth up 2-0, three outs from the World Series. Drabek didn't get any of those outs. First, Atlanta star Terry Pendleton had a leadoff double.
Then, Gold Glover Jose Lind did something incredibly rare: He mishandled David Justice's ground ball to allow a man to be at first and third. - A man who has made only six errors during the regular season. - Drabek walked former Pirate Sid Bream on four pitches, another rare event for a master of control. With the bases loaded, Leyland opted to throw out Drabek and bring in closer Stan Belinda, who immediately gave up a sacrifice fly to Ron Gant. Then another walk through a difficult decision. - He wanted it. He thought it was a strike. - But after Brian Hunter's unthreatening fly ball with the bases loaded, all the Pirates had to do was take care of underused pinch-hitter Francisco Cabrera, who had no career playoff hits and barely any at-bats. bat in the playoffs at that time.
On a 2-1 count, Cabrera made good contact and this is w

here

our friend Barry came in. Andy Van Slyke claims that before that release, he suggested that Bonds move on. Bonds gave him a peace sign and didn't budge. Well, Cabrera's hit easily scored Justice from third to tie the game, and when Bonds took an extra-long run from deep left to pick it up, Bream, a little older and weak-kneed, rounded third. A perfect shot could have eliminated Barry's former teammate and sent the game to extras, but this shot was far from perfect. Game over. Series finished. - Sure!
The brave win! The brave win! The brave win! - Barry's expression personified the feelings of a team that was on the verge of reaching the World Series for the third consecutive year. This time, they had fallen from the very precipice of victory. There was little doubt that Bonds would be gone in free agency. The only question was whether the 1992 MVP's attitude and his history of playoff mediocrity would hurt his market value. He did not do it. The Giants, the team of Barry's father and godfather, had been on the verge of leaving for Tampa Bay, but the new owners kept them in San Francisco and quickly gave Bonds the richest contract in baseball history up to that point.
Under new manager Dusty Baker, Bonds and the Giants had their best season in decades. They entered September 1993 with a healthy lead in the NL West. But they soon fell behind as the second-place Braves rallied. On the final morning of the season, the two teams were tied and Barry's team would once again have to inch ahead of Atlanta to get anywhere. The Braves controlled the expansion Rockies in their afternoon game, so San Francisco would have to beat the Dodgers to trigger a one-game tiebreaker against Atlanta. They do not. Rookie pitcher Salomón Torres fell behind early and Bonds was silent in a 12-1 loss that ended the season.
Well, at least quietly with his bat. After the loss, Bonds called Torres all kinds of names, and this was coming from a guy who had gone 0-4 with two strikeouts. Even so, Bonds was once again MVP and Baker Manager of the Year. Baseball in San Francisco had been saved and things were looking up for the Giants, and then they weren't. In a new era with an additional divisional round of playoffs, the Giants did not win a single playoff game for the rest of the '90s. They made the postseason in 1997, but lost in three games to a Marlins team led by Barry's old friend, Jim Leyland, and managed at the plate by his old friend, Bobby Bonilla.
After sweeping the Giants, those Marlins would win the World Series. San Francisco could have returned to the playoffs in '98. To do so, they had to win a wild-card playoff game against Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs. They fell behind in that one, but Bonds had chances to get them back. Down 4-0 in the top of the seventh, Bonds hit with the bases loaded and failed for the fourth time that night to get the ball out of the infield. Down 5-1 in the top of the ninth, Bonds hit again with the bases loaded and finally made good contact, but right at Sosa.
At least that sparked a race. The entire half of the lineup was cold and they couldn't recover in that inning. In total, the Giants left 11 men on base to lose 5-3, giving up the wild card. They missed the postseason again in '99. Bonuses showed up that season looking bigger than before. He then suffered a succession of injuries that limited his availability. 2000 would be the first season of Bonds' second career, also without rings. He turned 36 but hit a career-high 49 home runs, a small hint of what was to come. The Giants were in a new stadium and fought because Bonds had some help.
San Francisco finally had a solid pitching staff and Bonds finally had a friend in the lineup, if not in real life. Bonds and Jeff Kent hated each other. But Kent practically kept pace with Bonds at the plate. In fact, he beat him for National League MVP in 2000 and stayed hot in the playoffs. Those Giants faced the New York Mets in an NLDS and took an early lead in the series, thanks to stellar play in a start by Levon Hernandez and a big third inning that featured a three-run homer by Ellis Burks and a triple Bonds producer.
But in the next two games of that series, Bonds looked more like the Mr. Noctober of the early '90s. He had a big moment in the second game. San Francisco trailed 4-1 at the bottom of the ninth, but Bonds doubled. Kent followed with a hard single and pinch-hitter J.T. Snow drove them both in with a heroic home run to tie the game. But the Giants quickly fell behind due to a questionable decision by Baker. Reliever Félix Rodríguez had struggled in the ninth inning, but he sat out the 10th and struggled again, allowing a two-out RBI single to Jay Payton. - And the first pitch to Jay Payton.
Aligned to center field, a hit. Hamilton being greeted. He will score on Payton's two-out single. - In the bottom of the tenth inning, poor base running hurt the Giants. - Well, you have to wonder what the hell Armando Ríos is thinking there. - That left Bonds in a life or death scenario. Down a run with two outs and a man on first. Bonds worked a 2-0 count against John Franco, then took a big cut and was hit. He made the second strike. Then, with a full count, he dida dubious strike three to end the game.
The third game was longer and just as painful. Bonds went hitless, including a strikeout against Franco that ended the top of the ninth tied with a man on first. After Bonds left his men on base again to climb out of the lead of 13th place still tied, cult hero Benny Agbayani dropped the issue. San Francisco didn't even compete in the decisive Game 4 thanks to none other than Mets pitcher Bobby Jones. Bonds flew in to conclude Jones' legendary series-clinching one-hit complete game, sparking a huge celebration at Shea Stadium. San Francisco missed the playoffs again in 2001, but not because Bonds fell short in the big moments. 2001 was the year Bonds, 37, won his first of four consecutive NL MVPs.
And, of course, it was the year Bonds broke the single-season home run record that Mark McGuire had set when he was 34 years old. It's amazing what you can do when you're past your prime if you just eat right and believe in yourself. Still, two of Barry's record 73 home runs came in an October game against the Dodgers that San Francisco desperately needed to catch the division-leading Diamondbacks. Number 71 to pass to McGuire. Then number 72 just to give it a little more drama. But despite those pivotal, historic moments, despite the celebration that followed, the Giants actually lost that epic game 11-10.
They missed the playoffs as Arizona rode its division victory to a championship. The Giants finished behind Arizona again in 2002, but made the playoffs as a wild card. Well, first Baker had to break up a midseason bench fight between Bonds and Kent. Then the Giants recovered. Then they won the wild card. In Bonds' career-long pursuit of a ring, that 2002 streak would be closer and hit harder than any of his teams before or since. Bonds finally provided consistent, clutch hitting throughout that playoff run. He hit three home runs to finally edge the Braves in a five-game NLDS. And in the NLCS, on the rare occasions when the Cardinals didn't walk him, Bonds remained productive.
He was hitless in the decisive game five of that series, but delivered a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to drive in veteran Kenny Lofton for the tying run. Then we saw Lofton get the series win in the ninth. - Field a base hit. Drew's throw to the plate. The Giants are going to the World Series. -Finally, after logging 2,439 games in his career, Barry Bonds, 38, would play in his first World Series against the Anaheim Angels. And he opened it up with a bang, hitting a home run in his first at-bat in the World Series to start a 4-3 Giants road victory.
The second game was a dramatic back-and-forth fight. But the Giants cooled off against Anaheim reliever Francisco Rodriguez, while a Tim Salmon home run put the Angels up 11-9. Bonds reduced the deficit, capping a night spent mostly walking to first with a thunderous solo shot in the ninth. But that was all the Giants had and the series heading to San Francisco was tied at one. In Game 3, the Angels took a big bite out of Levon Hernandez and the Giants' comeback fell short despite Bonds' third home run of the series. In game four, the Angels gave Bonds almost nothing but intentional walks, while the rest of the Giants woke up and rallied to win the game and tie the series.
In Game 5, the Angels, for some reason, reduced their intentional walks, giving pitches to Kent and Bonds to hit. And they beat them. Bonds hit an RBI double. Kent hit two home runs in a 16-4 rout. -Did he do it again? Yes, he did it! Jeff Kent with his second two-run homer of this game. - The only real drama from that game was Dusty Baker's 3-year-old son and the batter narrowly escaping a collision at home plate, thanks to J.T. Snow's quick hands. That victory put the Giants up 3-2 in the series, on the verge of winning it all.
And in the seventh inning of game six, they could practically taste the champagne. Shawon Dunston had hit a two-run home run. Bonds had completely erased a K-Rod pitch. Kent had come by a couple of times. Russ Ortiz dominated on the mound and San Francisco won 5-0. Ortiz allowed a pair of hits in the seventh, prompting Baker to call it a night for his starter. In the middle of the transaction, Baker

handed

Ortiz the game ball as a souvenir. Something of a misstep, but a relatively modest one given that the Commissioner's Trophy was already being stripped for the Giants.
In any case, the Angels noticed the thing with the ball, got very angry, and, coincidence or not, began to recover immediately after that infraction of an unwritten rule. Félix Rodríguez took the mound and quickly gave up a three-run shot to the next batter, Scott Spiezio. 5-3 Giants. Bonds would not have another opportunity to bat, but he did influence the outcome defensively. Darin Erstad homered to make the score 5-4 Giants in the bottom of the eighth. Then, with Chone Figgins at first base, Garrett Anderson popped out to left and made Bonds look 38 years old. This slapstick routine allowed the runners to reach second and third place.
Troy Glaus doubled over Bonds' head to bring both men home and the Angels led 6-5, completing a comeback that the Giants couldn't undo. It was the biggest comeback ever in a World Series elimination game, shifting all the momentum to Anaheim for the decisive battle. Bonds' World Series excellence did not carry over into Game 7, and the Giants as a whole failed. Anaheim attacked Hernandez again with a third-inning barrage that won them the 2002 World Series. For Bonds and the Giants, this was a devastating fall from the brink of glory. Kenny Lofton says that with that late five-run lead in Game 6, he could feel the ring on his finger.
After that ring slipped away, Bonds would

never

come close again. The 2003 Giants improved to 100 wins when Bonds won another MVP. But that year he lost his father Bobby and began to feel the pressure of BALCO steroid research being developed. Bonds didn't do much in San Francisco's 2003 NLDS loss to the eventual champion Marlins, which resulted in some close, ugly losses. With the series tied at one, the Giants took an 11th inning lead in Game 3 on the road. But José Cruz's inexplicable error in the bottom of the inning opened the door for a Marlins comeback. Pudge Rodriguez hit a two-run single through that open door.
The series ended in the fourth game, with the not particularly fast J.T. Snow tries to beat a skeet throw and misses. This is the point where my friend Grant Risby would like me to tell you that the Giants used one of the fastest players in baseball, Eric Young, who could have been a pinch runner in that scenario, except he didn't make it to the post. . -Season because they decided to hire two left-

handed

relievers, even though the Marlins had almost no left-handed hitters. So, yes, it was a surprise and it was difficult. Bonds wasn't done winning, but he would never make the playoffs again.
After the 2007 season, the Giants ousted Bonds under a cloud of controversy stemming from his alleged steroid use and a perjury investigation. He missed San Francisco's even-year championship streak in the 2010s and never found success anywhere else as a free agent. Thus, Barry Bonds retired without a ring, despite a handful of opportunities. Barry's titanic production disappeared in his first few runs in the playoffs. And when he finally hit the postseason bat, his arm couldn't perform in a life-or-death moment. Bonds played brilliantly in his only World Series and came within inches of winning it all before one of the most heartbreaking collapses in history.
Still, despite coming up short, despite having a juicy reputation, and despite making many enemies, Bonds left baseball with an astonishing individual legacy. Nothing can take away the experience of watching him bat. No asterisk can eclipse the magnitude of his output. And no one can deny that Barry Bonds helped lift two great baseball cities out of the crisis.

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