That was the end of Bonds's time in Pittsburgh. Now 28 years old, he signed a six-year, $ million contract with the Giants, setting records for the largest deal ever (surpassing Cal Ripken's $ million) and the highest average annual value (beating Ryne Sandberg's $ million). Mays offered to un-retire No. 24 for him to wear, but Bonds instead opted for the No. 25 that his father wore as a Giant from 1968 through '74. He lived up to his new contract with another MVP-winning season in 1993, hitting .336/.458/.677; he led the league in the latter two categories, as well as homers (46), RBIs (123) and intentional walks (43). San Francisco won 103 games but lost out to the 104-win Braves for the NL West flag thanks to a pair of homers by Dodgers rookie Mike Piazza on the final day of the season.
You’re 24 years old. It’s the bottom of the eighth, down 1-0, you and Clemens. ‘Visualize,’ you tell yourself, ‘visualize.’ You need this, because the fear still keeps you up at night. What if some young kid coming up takes away your at-bats, then your position, then your father’s approval? It’s the reason you watch endless hours of tape, keying in on every pitcher’s tendencies. That’s why you know a fastball is coming — inside. You can still see the threads spinning. In your darkest hours, this is what you cling to, like a child sucking a pacifier. Head down. Hips turn. Boom. Rounding the bases, your feet never touch the ground.
So here’s my advice to voters who ostensibly refuse to vote for anyone under serious PED suspicion … Get out in front of this thing, guys. Try to look ahead five or 10 years. See where this thing’s going to be. And don’t wait for that to happen. Instead of getting dragged, kicking and shouting and screaming all the while, to the inevitable conclusion, take the lead. Do some reporting. Put things into context. Celebrate the players — assuming you can find any — who spoke out against drug use within the Players Association. Write about the impacts of cheating without resorting to ill-devised moral crusades.