MLB General

A Comparison of the Speed-Challenged

Barry Bonds
Weight: 228
Height: 6’2″
Grounded into Double Play (Career): 165   

Edgar Martinez
Weight: 205
Height: 5’11”
Grounded into Double Play (Career): 190Barry Bonds stole 36 bases in his rookie season and peaked at 52 by his fifth year in the league. In 1996 he became just the second member of the elite 40-40 club (40 stolen bases and 40 home runs in a season). Last year he stole five bases. In 2007 he spent the majority of his season watching fly balls in left field at AT&T Park wearing more armor than our beloved soldiers in Iraq. Like a line drive could really damage such a “naturally muscular” body.

Edgar Martinez’s first career hit was a triple. How many did he hit for the rest of his 18-year career? 14. Legend has it he once raced a pregnant woman and came in third. But even Jeopardy host Alex Trebeck never matched the number of doubles Edgar had.

In 1992 Barry signed with the San Francisco Giants for a six-year, $43.57 million contract, leaving the Pirates behind. His salary peaked at the fifth-highest single-season pay ever for a major league player: $22,000,000. He has also made more money playing baseball than any other player, though Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is set to surpass that record in the baseball season of 2009.  

Edgar, throughout his career never earning even $8,000,000 in a year, has the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award named after him. Earning just under $50,000,000 in his career, Edgar was able to make a name for himself without demanding outrageous contracts and relied upon Mariners’ loyalty to him. This paid off as he was never traded and never in his career became a free agent.  

Barry, throughout his 22-year career, never won a World Championship with either of his teams. He only appeared in one, in 2002, which his Giants lost to the Anaheim Angels. His long career included six other trips to the playoffs, and Barry’s team lost in the first round every time.

In 2001 Edgar played a crucial role as Seattle’s designated hitter. The team tied the record for most wins ever in a season, and they sent Edgar and seven other players to the All-Star Game, which was played in Seattle.

2001 was a big year for Barry too, belting 73 home runs to set the record for most in a season. This was the only season in which Barry hit more than 50 home runs. At about the same time the MLB (Major League Baseball) began to enforce its performance-enhancing drug policy much more firmly. The next season, Barry hit “only” 43 home runs.

After winning a league-best 116 games in 2001 with the Mariners, Edgar was honored with the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award for the fifth time. Three years later he retired as one of the most beloved players in baseball, delivering a highly evocative retirement speech that brought many fans to tears. After retirement, the City of Seattle named a street running next to the Mariners’ Safeco Field “Edgar Martinez Drive”, and Mayor Greg Nickels named October 2nd, 2004 “Edgar Martinez Day” in honor of one of the city’s most beloved sports heroes.

In 2007 the San Francisco Giants announced that they would not renew Barry’s contract despite him setting the career record for home runs with 762. Never a fan favorite in San Francisco because of his cold attitude towards players and the media, seeing him leave was simply a “goodbye”. Nothing more. All of a sudden, the home run king was out of a job. Thus far in 2008 no teams have picked him up, but there are rumors that the New York Yankees could have a place for him on their roster.

The careers of these two players could not be more different. Edgar, a fan favorite, never won a league MVP (Most Valuable Player Award). The unpopular Barry, however, won seven. Edgar now has countless tributes to his name, while Barry’s record-setting home run ball was branded with an asterisk, a reference to his alleged use of steroids. Edgar’s retirement led to a teary farewell and countless standing ovations. Barry simply snuck out the back door at the end of the season, betting he would be signed by another team come Spring Training 2008, but he was on trial on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice after testifying in 2003 in front of a grand jury. He claimed he had never violated the league’s drug policy.  

Unfortunately Barry isn’t in “the clear” yet.

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