Barry Bonds 1992

Thanks to an overwhelming amount of requests (actually just one: from my good friend Jamie Davies) it’s time take a quick glance at the 1992 season of Barry Bonds. Just to note: this isn’t to put the guy on trial for what he did or didn’t do. What really interests me is how good he was before getting really really massive. His last season in Pittsburgh was in ’92, and he had a beast of a season for a 96-win Pirate club.

Bonds 1992: In only 140 ballgames Bonds hit .311 with 36 doubles, 39 steals, 127 walks, 34 HR’s, drove in 103 runs, his on-base % was .456 (100 points higher than any other Pirate) while striking out just 69 times. Oh and he won a Gold Glove. And an MVP. That’s basically dominating every facet of the game. All before getting massive, and dominating with a lean physique. The guy was likely on his way to Cooperstown before 1998 happened.

What happened in 1998?

Bonds was having another year like the one above, but no one was really paying any attention because of the McGwire/Sosa home run chase. Ken Burns majestic “Baseball: The 10th Inning” addresses this topic and states that Bonds was raged and jealous over Sosa/McGwire and this eventually led him to have the feelings of: “Oh, yeah? You think that’s great? Watch this!”

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My Friends: Joe Ford and the Drive By Truckers

I moved to Seattle in 2003 with every intention of seeing every band I’ve ever been into at least once. It’s now 2017 and I can honestly say that U2 is really the last on my list that I made years ago. I can proudly say I crossed Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Springsteen off this list most recently.

Rewind to early 2004 and my buddy Jared called me and said “The Drive-By Truckers are playing at the Tractor Tavern tonight. I know you don’t know them but they are awesome and we need to go.”

So of course we went.

It was great, and should’ve been at Key Arena instead of a tiny bar. When we arrived, I noticed that Peter Buck from REM was in attendance. I couldn’t imagine he wasn’t into great music so I knew this was likely a good sign for whats to come. It was a phenomenal set and Jared and I were front and center and afterwards we saw one of their guitarists, Jason Isbell. I went up to him and shook his hand and told him “hey man amazing show” and he replied in the heaviest Southern accent I’ve ever heard:

“Yeah that was about the best show we ever played.”

Really great to hear that, especially since we were there. So I was instantly hooked. And for several consecutive years the Truckers returned to Seattle and each time they did I’d see Jason before the show and tell him “Hi I’m Joe, not sure if you remember me but I saw you after the Tractor Tavern show years ago and said hello.” And he would tell me every time:

“Yeah I remember you, Joe. That was the best show we ever played!”

One of the times included me buying him a shot of Jack Daniels, and he took it with me. This may have not been such a good thing, because rumor has it that a big part of Jason leaving the band in 2007 was because of his drinking. But he’s proudly stopped drinking and now today is one of the most renowned recording artists in all of music.

But following that first show in 2004, I called my best friend Joe Ford back in South Dakota and really was jacked up to tell him about the Drive By Truckers and that we really needed to dive into their catalog. And boy did we ever as Joe and I have shared a great bond over Isbell and the Truckers and their music over the years. To me, the Truckers truly hit home that small-town rural Americana sound and to someone who grew up in a small town it’s easy to relate. It’s as easy as breathing.

Yesterday when I texted Joe that I got the Town Mile site up and running he responded: “You should do one about the first time you saw DBT and called your buddy back in SD and the band you recommended was so profound in your buddies life that he named his first born son after the lead singer.”

This is true: Patterson Joseph Ford was born March 12, 2015. He’s named after Patterson Hood, the founder of the Truckers and a guy who I’ve also had the pleasure of running into a few times throughout the years. To me that’s the beauty of rock and roll music, is the time stamp it places on lives and the great connection it helps solidify between friends. It’s a deep, powerful thing. And Patterson Ford will more than likely end up with bowed legs and be really really fast like his dad was. This is him recently at age 2, already training:

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Barry Bonds 2001-2004

One thing I find myself almost unconsciously doing over the years is visiting and looking through the career numbers of Barry Bonds. Whatever your opinion of Bonds, some of his metrics are just mind-numbingly awesome and hard to believe. I’ll save a rant on 1992 Bonds for a later time, but just take a look at the peak of his head-growth and Bio-genisis mechanical swing:

2001 Bonds: 153 games, 73 HR, 177 walks, 32 doubles

2002 Bonds: 143 games, 46 HR, 198 walks (not a typo, really walked 198 times), 32 doubles

2003 Bonds: 130 games, 45 HR’s, 148 walks, 22 doubles

2004 Bonds: 147 games, 45 HRs, 232 FUCKING WALKS!!(120 intentional), 27 doubles

**So to summarize: Barry Bonds for four consecutive seasons either hit a home run, a double, or walked in EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. For four straight years.

Paul O’Neill gets off the bus

It was May of 1993. My dad had started a yearly spring tradition the year before of going to Minneapolis to watch the Yankees play the Twins in the Metrodome. The Twins still had a strong core of players from 2 championship teams, and at this time had consistently more success than NY did in the decade leading up to this May series. My cousin Brad came along for this trip and my dad (Stick) figured out what hotel the Yankees were staying at. I was in 7th grade, Brad was in 8th. I remember getting to the hotel and before long we started to see our diamond heroes make their way through the lobby. We saw Don Mattingly. The Real Don Mattingly. Yes him: Mr. 6 (SIX!) Grand Slams in 1987. He signed our baseballs for us and this still stands out as an all-time moment. He was wearing a leather Planet Hollywood jacket. That is not a joke, I couldn’t make that up.

We ended up getting a few other players, and before long were out in the car pick-up area watching them make their way to the Metrodome. We said hello to Danny Tartabull, and as we did saw that Paul O’Neill quickly entered the bus behind him.

“Danny can you see if Paul will sign our baseball?” I asked him, and he answered “Yeah.”

Sure enough a moment later, Paul O’Neill got off the bus and signed both of our baseballs. Now O’Neill hadn’t been with the Yankees for too long, and at that time had not yet become “The Warrior” and the heart and soul of four World Series Championships in the Bronx. He had won a previous title with Cincinnatti in 1990, and now as I think back the trade straight-up O’Neill for Roberto Kelly ¬†seems like one of the great steals in the last 30 years of baseball. But on that day he listened to his teammates’ request for a couple young kids asking for him, and came off the bus. He did it for Cousin Brad and I and it was pretty awesome. Paul O’Neill got off the bus.

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