BARRY BONDS AND THE MLBPA

Friday, March 18, 2005

Donald Fehr

Barry Bonds, one of the best hitters of all time, has drawn criticism from just about everywhere: steroids, his relationship with the media, his relationship with his teammates, just to name a few. But somewhere you wouldn't expect him to draw critcism is with his dropout from the MLBPA licensing agreement. You may have noticed Bonds' absence from baseball video games or wondered where his jersey was in athletic stores. This is because Barry Bonds is the first baseball player in the 30 year history of the MLBPA to strike out on his own, much like former Bull Michael Jordan did with the NBAPA.

But is Bonds' decision to remove himself from the MLBPA driven by greed? He did, after all, leave the MLBPA to get more money. Is it greed to want more money when you're already being paid millions? Lots of hard-working, red-blooded Americans will answer yes to both questions, but they fail to realize that baseball is a business, which is being manifested a little more every year when players sign rediculously large contracts. It is a business decision to drop out of the MLBPA and market yourself around, and making more money is the result of that for Bonds.

Now, you've probably heard of, and even seen counterfeit money. But counterfeit Bonds memorabilia? It's true, people have been circulating items supposedly signed by Bonds, but are little more than mundane items with a sullied signature on it. When Bonds got knowledge of this, it sparked his decision to opt out of the MLBPA, they weren't doing enough to protect the players. As part of his own marketing ventures and his website, he is guaranteeing that every item you purchase from him will be 100% authentic, and has even devised his own security labels to verify it.

Barry Bonds

If you're still set on Bonds' greedy motives, just think back on your own life for a minute. You've probably made one decision based solely on the premise that you would get more money. It's a little hypocritical to criticize Bonds for opting out. The MLBPA does all of the marketing and contract signing for the players. For instance, if Dick's Sporting Goods wanted to buy 150 Jim Thome jerseys, they would call up the MLBPA and strike a deal, rather than calling Thome or Thome's agent, going through a large negotiation process, and then having Thome or his agent meet and sign the contract. If anything, Bonds took on a larger workload by his removal from the MLBPA.

So, in the end, I think people are calling Bonds greedy just because they don't like him. Bonds has never had a strong relationship with the media and the fans, and it shows. The media will do anything to paint a picture of Bonds as a steroid user, a bad teammate, and a bad person, all because he doesn't want to answer the same questions over and over, or take time out of a game to do an interview. In SportsCenter reports on Bonds, they repeatedly show his dugout confrontation with former teammate Jeff Kent or his admission to using steroids, although unknowingly. What they don't show you is Bonds helping young players with their mechanics or signing autographs for fans before a game. So, base your opinions on something more than what the media tells you about Bonds. The most prolific hitter in baseball probably has a better motive than greed to be the first man out of the MLBPA.