Barry Bonds-Yankees marriage would’ve altered the best of Red Sox history
The New York Yankees of the 1990s were a force to be reckoned with.
Between 1990-99, they clinched two Wild Card berths and won the World Series in each of the three years that they won the division.
Now, imagine if the 90s Yankees had Barry Bonds.
According to Bonds himself, it could have happened. When the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees played their season series finale on Sunday night, the controversial hitter disclosed that he could’ve signed with the Yanks when he became a free agent after the 1992 season:
"“It was very close, for about 15 or 20 minutes,” Bonds said. “Because, what happened was, and I tell people the true story, the Yankees offered me the same contract I think Ryne Sandberg had at the same time, or a little bit more than that. And, unfortunately, they said you have until 2 o’clock this afternoon to make a decision and my agent said, ‘I’ll get back to you about it.’”via Sports Illustrated"
Bonds went on to say that he went to get some lunch before his agent called back with a new offer from the San Francisco Giants, which he took, instead.
As a 27-year-old in his final season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bonds had won his second NL MVP award in three years, and his third consecutive Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. He’d led all of MLB in on-base, slugging, OPS, and OPS+.
In the 15 years he spent with the Giants, Bonds hit .312/.477/.666 with a 1.143 OPS. Over 1,976 regular-season games, he collected 1,951 hits, including 381 doubles, 42 triples, and 586 home runs. He scored 1,555 times, drove in 1,440, and stole 263 bases. He drew 1,947 walks and only struck out 949 times.
Bonds on the Yankees? With the short porch in right field? Other teams wouldn’t have even dared to show up.
And how would his presence on the Yankees have affected the Rivalry?
Barry Bonds choosing the Yankees in the 1990s could have destroyed the Red Sox
Since regular-season inter-league play didn’t come into effect until 1997, Bonds may as well have been on another planet than the two American League rivals. He only played three career games at Fenway Park, though he did collect three hits there, including a home run. The same three-game sample size applies to Bonds’ time at Yankee Stadium. He had four hits, including a home run, scored twice, drove in three, and stole a base. While that power was on display in the old Yankee Stadium, the new version that replaced it in 2009 has similar outfield dimensions. Bonds’ penchant for hitting homers to deep right (341, to be precise) could’ve been amplified even more in the Bronx.
The Sox and Yankees met in the postseason three times during Bonds’ career. In the 1999 ALCS, the Yankees beat the Sox 4-1. In the 2003 ALCS, they triumphed again, but this time, it took seven games and a walk-off homer Aaron Boone’s been coasting on ever since.
And of course, in the 2004 ALCS, the Sox completed the greatest comeback in baseball history when they roared back from a three-games-to-none deficit to win the pennant and subsequently, their first World Series in 86 years.
Bonds actually struggled a bit in the postseason, especially compared to his regular-season dominance. Between 1990-2003, he played 48 playoff games for the Pirates and Giants and only collected 37 hits, including eight doubles and nine home runs. In 2003, the Giants faced the then-Florida Marlins in the NLDS and lost 3-1. Bonds only managed a pair of hits in the series, however, the Marlins also intentionally walked him six times in four games. Altogether, he got intentionally walked in more than 43% of his postseason games.
Still, Bonds versus the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ era Sox on a regular basis is almost too terrifying to comprehend. With him in pinstripes, it’s fair to say that the Sox would’ve struggled even more against their biggest rivals than they already did in the 1990s and early 2000s. Just one example: Bonds homered off 449 pitchers in his career, never more than eight times against any of them. Curt Schilling, whom the Sox acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead of the 2004 season, is one of the five pitchers who allowed eight homers to Bonds.
While the shoe is on the other foot since 2004, that’s really only because the Sox won and finally toppled the Evil Empire. Had that not happened, all subsequent success may never have come to be, either. The ripple effect of Bonds in the Bronx is incalculable.
In other words, thank heavens for the San Francisco Giants.