Ortiz believes Bonds needs to be cheered. Loudly.
“He deserves respect,” Ortiz said Sunday in Minneapolis. “People are not going to give it to him because of all the bad things running around, this and that, but people need to realize. I’ve heard a lot of different things about Barry Bonds, but people should just admit it – this guy’s a bad (expletive).”
Whether or not Bonds will be on the verge of breaking Hank Aaron’s career mark of 755 home runs – he’s at 744 with 34 games to play before he arrives here on June 15 – Ortiz expects Fenway Park fans will be making a mistake by focusing on the performance-enhancing drug allegations against Bonds rather than his home run totals.
Ortiz has an almost willful naivete about both Bonds and steroids. He still does not believe in his heart or his head that Bonds took steroids. And even if it were proven to him, Ortiz still would not link it to what Bonds does with a baseball bat.
“To hit the frickin’ ball, the guy makes it look easy, but it ain’t. I don’t know how you can have that swing, consistently. I don’t know how steroids can do that,” Ortiz said. “There are supposed to be guys using steroids in the game, and there’s nobody close to Barry Bonds. What’s that mean? He was using the best (expletive)? Know what I’m saying?”
Clearly Ortiz hasn’t read Game of Shadows, which documents Bonds’ steroid use in painstaking detail. No one denies that Bonds is an outstanding hitter, even without the steroids. The key is that bulking up with the drugs has enabled him to hit a lot more home runs than he would be able to hit otherwise.
It’s as if Ortiz, who is received as a deity at Fenway Park, were testing the waters to see if he could do anything that would make him less popular in Boston. After all, Bonds is the same guy who said, “Boston is too racist for me” in 2004 — not exactly the kind of statement that will endear him to the Fenway crowd.
Barry Bonds will be booed loudly and repeatedly when the Giants come to Boston for three games June 15-17. If he breaks the all-time record during that series, there might not be such a kind reaction to that either.
Curt Schilling, on the other hand, expressed pretty much the opposite view from Ortiz about Bonds in his appearance on the Dennis and Callahan radio show this morning. Schilling said he didn’t want to be the guy to give up the record-breaking homer, and he noted that the Giants will probably try to have it happen in San Francisco anyway so as to minimize the awkwardness.