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The Ramble: Is Barry Bonds Throwing In The Towel?

On Sunday April 23rd Barry Bonds said “Heck no!” when asked if he thought that he had a chance to catch Henry Aaron and become Major League Baseball’s all-time home run king. His oft-repaired right knee and his bone chip-laden left elbow are acting up and will more than likely make the 2006 season Bonds’ last.

Actually, his right knee has never “acted down” since the initial injury, an injury that was no doubt brought about by his trainer Greg Anderson’s pre-historic approach to training. To make matters worse, Bonds suffered an infection in this knee after one of the surgical procedures. The damage done by this infection could provide the coup de grace to Bonds’ career.

Last year on ESPN Radio, after it was announced that Bonds had an infection in his right knee, former Atlanta Brave and two time National League MVP award winner Dale Murphy was interviewed about Bonds and his injury. Murphy recounted his experience from suffering a similar knee injury, and how he also suffered from a post-operative infection in the knee. Murphy said that it was the damage to his knee from the infection — and not from the injury that necessitated the surgery — that effectively ended his career.

The problem with the kind of infection that Bonds and Murphy suffered in their knees is that the infection damages the cartilage — hyaline cartilage — that surrounds the bone in the joint, also know as articular cartilage. Once this cartilage is damaged there is no way to repair or replace it. As a result, you get a “bone on bone” situation, which leads to chronic pain, inflammation, and swelling. All of which Bonds has suffered from for the past year or so.

Murphy’s stellar career ended on a sour note. In 1992, his second to last season and the season after his surgery, he appeared in 18 games and had 62 at-bats. In his last season Murphy only played in 16 games and was limited to 42 at-bats. Last year Bonds played in 14 games and had 42 at-bats and is off to a slow start this year despite resting his knee during the off-season. So far this season Bonds has appeared in 15 games and has 35 at-bats.

Since Bonds has now admitted to his advanced state of physical deterioration can the end be very, very near? Using Murphy’s two post-infection seasons can we infer that Bonds is pretty much done? Worth mentioning is that Bonds is 4 years older than Murphy was at the end of his career. And Murphy didn’t have an upper-body injury to contend with either.

Since Bonds’ knee became an issue and caused him to miss almost the entire 2005 season, I’ve been of the opinion that he would never catch Aaron. Given Bonds’ most recent comments on the state of his body he may not even catch Babe Ruth.

About Sal Marinello

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Did you read Chuck Klosterman’s feature story on Bonds in the latest ESPN the Magazine?

    The link’s page is kind of broken but the story’s all there.

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and repeat a prediction I was making before reading this fine piece about Bonds’ knee problems:

    Barry Bonds will not break Hank Aaron’s recod of 755 career home runs. He’ll *probably* pass Ruth’s 714, but the 2006 season is going to be a bust, and he may well not be back for 2007… 50 homers even over two seasons is a tough order for a man Bonds’ age, especially when the knees go.

    Dale Murphy may turn out to be an apt comparison; Murphy was considerably younger than Bonds too, as you noted.

    In which case, we can put the asterisks away; second place doesn’t need them.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    He will not pass Aaron’s mark, not in his condition.

    So, the big question is, will he pass Ruth’s mark? Sadly, Bonds will probably stick around just long enough to beat Ruth’s total, and then retire…

  • sal m

    if you saw bonds hobbling around the bases and in the field last night you have to wonder how much more he has left…he’s one misstep from blowing that knee out for good.