The Greatest Player Ever?

It’s that magical playoff time in Major League Baseball again, and “The Tenth Inning,” the new sequel to Ken Burns’ baseball documentary, just came out, covering the sport’s last 16 years. Burns quotes baseball gurus about the game’s rogue superstar Barry Bonds, and the statement is made in the film that Barry Bonds may well have been the greatest player in the history of the game.

No player in 140 years compiled 400 homers and 400 stolen bases, as Bonds did by 1998, before he allegedly started using steroids. I think that there is little doubt that Bonds was disgusted with the spectacle of Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa hitting 70 and 66 homers and “saving the game” with the aid of the syringe, while he was dazzling in the field and at the plate in relative obscurity. So Bonds made his own deal with the devil and bulked up.

Question: Do you think that Barry Bonds was the best player you ever saw play the game? If not, who was better?

Or, are you still so angry with the obnoxious, cheating Barry, that you want to write him off as unworthy of being considered a terrific player?

George Will and others debate the logic of using an asterisk for controversial baseball stats

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10 thoughts on “The Greatest Player Ever?

  1. AvatarRich Gorecki

    My vote goes to Cal Ripken due to his longevity for breaking Gehrig’s consecutive games record and his clean-cut, fan-friendly image. He was the antithesis of Bonds in these categories. A close second is Babe Ruth for his versatility first as a very good pitcher and then as perhaps the greatest power hitter of all time. I have a hard time including players who only pitched (i.e. Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Koufax) but you can also include Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Ty Cobb in the discusssion.

  2. AvatarBud Moore

    Admittedly I am a partisan, but I think that it is a mistake to count Albert Pujols out of this conversation. He is the first player in basebal history to hit 30 home runs and plate at least 100 RBI’s in his first 10 years in the league. He also posesses a career .624 slugging percentage (compared to Bond’s .607), and has a .331 career average compared to Bond’s .298. One last point…Bonds hit 310 home runs in his first 10 years: Pujols now sits at 408 after his first 10 years. I’m just sayin’

  3. AvatarCharlie Kerr

    It is easy to say a player from one era is better than players from another because they never were on the field at the same time against common opposition. If I were building a baseball team and could draft any player from any era in the prime of their playing career, Barry Bonds would not be one of my picks. If they were available, Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Kirby Puckett and Pete Rose would be drafted long before Barry Bonds was even thought about. Bonds was a good player. He was also a terrible teammate. That’s why I have low regard for him.

  4. AvatarBrian Meyer

    I don’t believe that anyone deserves the title of “Best Ever”. The age of baseball has seen many “engineered” improvements. Barry is the most recent player able to take advantage of technology embraced by the sport. What if the same things were available to past players? Would Barry still be trying to catch their records? Then there is the dark cloud over his record of steroid use which should always keep him from exceeding those that cleanly proceeded him. Maybe Barry should just be called a great baseball player.

  5. AvatarDoug Sons

    No doubt about it…Bonds was good. But hardley the best. Lots of players were great, but overall, as a player and a man, you got to go with the Say Hey Kid! Wilie Mays!!!!!!!!

  6. AvatarDonald Green

    I agree with those who say it’s impossible to truly compare players from different eras, and especially difficult when you have to think about what if those who used PED’s, hadn’t, and if those who didn’t, had..

    That said, what do people think of a great who was both physically handicapped, and actually inhibiting his own performance? Mickey Mantle may not have had the largest numbers in every stat, but I think most baseball fans consider him one of the Greats. He managed this while suffering from osteomyelitis which caused him great pain in his legs, and while being an alcoholic (I doubt it had the same effect as steroids).

  7. AvatarLarry A

    I think there are many players who have exceptional talents in the game for various reasons. This is why we have the Hall of Fame. As for Barry Bonds, I’ll give him credence for his accomplishments in the game when Pete Rose is inducted into the Hall of Fame. If cheaters are going to be allowed into the Hall of Fame, then induct them all, not just some. Then again, I haven’t seen any proof that Pete Rose cheated…only that he gambled on the sport and his own team. I recognize any player who used steroids as a cheater and therefore unworthy of any Hall of Fame mention unless there is at least an asterisk by his name as a steroid user.

  8. AvatarDan DeBurr

    Barry’s arrogance and bad attitude can not exclude him from being considered “one of the greatest” of all time. Nor can we exclude him simply because he “made the deal with the devil” as so many of his contemporaries were doing at the time.
    Is he greater than Ruth, Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Pujols, A-Rod and many others?…..hard to say, but probably not.
    He is in an exclusive club with those mentioned above and he has paid dearly for his drug use. It was a great lesson when the program showed the public apathy after 9/11 toward his home run record.
    I know Ruth hit 714 and Aaron 755 but I ‘m just not sure how many Barry would have hit without the steroids.
    Of course Barry was faster, and as good a defensive player as anyone in the game.
    I’m just not ready to accept him as “the greatest ever”.

  9. AvatarDon Rozino

    Roberto Clemente would never have missed a throw to the plate from shallow out field to nail a painfully slow Sid Bream who scored from 2nd base to send the Braves to the World Series.

    In fact Barry couldn’t hit worth a lick in the playoffs.

    Bonds was good, but not great!

    That was the last time the Pirates were ever any good and Bonds blew it!

  10. Avatarwidds

    I kinda agree with what Bonds said….I want to be the best ever…Clemente has right field, Mays has center and I want left field. Interesting how Sabermetrics doesn’t agree with him about his choices….but then he was JUST a ballplayer!!


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