Earlier this year, Barry Bonds was spotted working out with Alex Rodriguez, helping him with his swing following a season-long steroid suspension.
With the new season underway and A-Rod resuming his pursuit of Willie Mays on the all-time home runs list (he trails Mays by five after homering last week), Bonds has come out and vocalized his support for the embattled slugger.
Per USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale:
"My godfather means the world to me. I love him to a T, but when Alex hits No. 660, I’ll be happy for him. Willie will be happy for him. Everybody should be happy for him.…And I can’t wait to until he hits 660. I know I’ll celebrate."
Bonds’ quotables were in response to news of the Yankees’ preference not to market their returning star’s milestone homers—a measure that would save them millions and distance them from the steroid era’s most talked-about stat.
Of course, Bonds was at the forefront of those discussions, but received plenty of local and national recognition for his record-breakers when they occurred. Unlike Rodriguez, however, the Giants’ home-run king never got another chance in the MLB after his PED scandal had run its course.
In that sense, it’s not hard to see why Bonds is rooting for his controversial counterpart, sounding off against the league and teams that turned their backs on him in 2007:
"Any time anybody in the game does something that’s a great accomplishment, the game of baseball should celebrate that.No matter what. Baseball is benefiting from that person’s hard work, so baseball should at least celebrate."
Bonds seemed especially frustrated with the resentment aimed at A-Rod’s quest for 660—a feeling he is all-too-familiar with:
"Why the hate? Why hate on something you’re paying to see? I don’t understand it. He’s entertaining us.…I wish life wasn’t like that."
The answer to the “why” is obvious, and Bonds can’t do anything about that. In supporting Rodriguez, though, he reaffirmed his stance on how Hall of Fame caliber production—aided or not—should be recognized.
He also reaffirmed his feelings on the root of that production—a quality he and A-Rod can take pride in sharing.
"I could [have] said a thousand reasons why I could not excel. But I excelled because I love baseball.…It’s the same as Alex."
Other important notes:
-According to the New York Daily News, Willie Mays doesn’t care if Rodriguez passes him up, saying: “Records are there to be broken.” Mays also avoided the reporter’s attempt to turn the conversation to A-Rod’s PED past, saying he would prefer to “leave that for the fans to do.”
-Nightengale’s column also followed up on the potential for Bonds to take on a special assistant role for the Giants, which was originally reported back in March. Apparently, the partnership is still in the works, with both sides “going back and forth on ideas.”