Barry Bonds has never met Aaron Judge. Like everyone else, he’s watching from afar as the New York Yankees star makes a potential run at the record 73 he hit in 2001.
“Go ahead,” Bonds said this week in an exclusive phone interview from his home north of San Francisco. “The way he swings he might as well hit one a day and pass me. I do not care. Why not?”
More from Sportico.com
But Bonds would like to be in his seats at Oracle Park next season, watching Judge play for the San Francisco Giants. It’s the talk of the San Francisco Bay Area right now, and it’s entirely possible considering Judge is a free agent after this historic season.
“I hope he signs here,” Bonds said. “It might happen; I do not know. It depends on what the Yankee payroll is. But we would love to have him, I’ll tell you that.”
Bonds is an independent contractor with the Giants in an honorary role and specifically said he has no input on signing or trading players. But as the team’s biggest fan and all-time leader with 762 homers, he can certainly root, root, root for the home team.
At the same time Judge is chasing Roger Maris and the 61-year-old in New York. 2004.
Bonds loves Pujols for what he’s done. He was there when Bonds last played in 2007.
“One of my men,” said Bonds. “He is a master of this art.”
But Bonds loves the 30-year-old judge for what he is yet to achieve.
The Yankees fixed it all this spring when they offered him a seven-year, $213.5 million extension. The judge dismissed it. After a multi-year season in which he could also win the American League Triple Crown, he’s closing in on Mike Trout money: 12 years, $426.5 million with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Yanks now say they will try to re-sign Judge in the offseason. They and the Giants could certainly afford him.
“We in the Bay Area—he’s a Bay Area boy—hopefully they don’t sign him and we can get him,” Bonds said. “I will. He’s so good.”
Judge and Bonds are from the Bay Area. Bonds, the son of the late Giants shortstop Bobby Bonds, grew up across the peninsula from the old Candlestick Park. Judge hails 90 minutes east of San Francisco in the Stockton area and was 9 years old when Bonds obliterated Mark McGwire’s three-year-old single-season home run record of 70.
The judge was a big fan of Bonds and Giants, saying so San Francisco Chronicle in a recent interview that Bonds was the greatest winner of all time, “in my opinion.”
There will forever be controversy surrounding Bonds’ home run records because he played during Major League Baseball’s so-called steroid era. Bonds never failed a drug test, but his alleged association with performance-enhancing drugs was well documented in baseball’s Mitchell Report.
To this day, there are those who believe that Bonds’ numbers are tampered with, and this has so far cost him induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bonds said he didn’t want to comment extensively on playing at the time.
“Because I’ve got all the records, I don’t want to be in the headlines,” Bonds said. “Every season is different. I played hard baseball. I’ll be gone one day and I won’t have to hear it anymore. I have three grandchildren. I am 58 years old. Really?”
The judge is not one of the disputants. To him, Bonds’ numbers are legit.
“That’s the record,” Judge said specifically of the single-season mark. “I watched him do it. I stayed up late watching him do it. This is the record. No one can take that away from him.”
The fact is, Bonds is listed in the record books by MLB as the all-time leader in both categories. There is no asterisk, no ambiguity.
“It doesn’t matter what people say,” Bonds said. “In MLB it says Barry Bonds. That’s all that matters, right? Everyone can have their own opinion, and I respect their opinion, but MLB says 762 is the record, 73 is the record. Unless MLB changed something, it’s still there.
“So [Judge] it’s correct. This guy has a chance to break a lot of those records. For sure.”
Bonds very easily could have landed with the Yankees when he left the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent after the 1992 season. The club made Bonds a huge offer, giving him several hours to decide.
Bonds recalled being upset about that deadline and storming out of his agent’s office in Beverly Hills. The deadline passed and by that time the Giants had made their offer.
“I had the craziest feeling in my gut,” she said. “I didn’t care what the offer was. I was going home.”
Bonds hopes Judge will eventually feel the same way.
The bonds signed for chump change compared to the money that will now be on the table: six years, $43.75 million ($91.83 million in today’s dollars). According to records it maintains Baseball referenceBonds earned $188.3 million over his 22-year career, less than the Yanks already offered Judge, who is 30.
“He has a long way to go. He’s still early in his career,” Bonds said. “I pray Aaron never gets hurt and has a long career. At the moment, he is still young. But does his potential seem great? Make love. Will it make a lot of money? Make love.
“Would I bet on him? Absolutely yes. It will be a very interesting negotiation. I just hope we win.”
Click here to read the full article.