The big hubbub, or so they would make you think, had to do with Barry Bonds responding honestly when asked if Albert Pujols could be the next incarnation of the sole member of the 500 homerun/500 stolen base club.
In last week's San Francisco Chronicle, Bonds was quoted as saying that Pujols "doesn't have good speed" and "hasn't settled on one position." This drew the ire of rabid Cardinals fans and anyone else who enjoys sullying Bonds' reputation if he so much as sneezes in their general direction. Bonds maintains his comments were misconstrued. Whether or not his remarks were taken out of context is beside the point because his statements as they stand are one hundred percent correct.
At the onset of Bonds' career, the man truly did it all and only recently have some of those skills diminished. He stole bases, threw with pinpoint precision and fielded immaculately.
And he could hit occasionally, too. Some say he still can.
By using the logic of the Chronicle and all those who are spewing venom at Bonds for brushing aside the Pujols question, hitting is apparently enough to share the marquee with a player like Barry. What is Pujols' position, anyway? Third base? Left field? First base? Buck short?
I apologize if I'm not lining up to anoint Pujols as the king of baseball but he's only played 2-plus years. It's taken Bonds nearly 18 years to be given the respect he's deserved by the national press, and his world-crushing 500 HR/500 SB stat still went by with a collective ho-hum. Sportswriters and networks would rather bury Bonds for his lack of PR skills and/or placate east coast fans with extended Mets coverage. When asked about how Albert Pujols compared to him, as far as I'm concerned Bonds would not have been out of line by responding, "Albert who?"
Pujols' auspicious beginning to his big league career does not yet warrant the suggestion of him assuming Major League Baseball's throne. Doing so is getting dangerously close to the mentality of those throwing themselves at and all over LeBron James. If Pujols continues his torrid hitting, starts stealing bases (since he only has 3 thus far) and emerges as a defensive presence to be reckoned with, then he'll earn the mad love that too many are already willing to give him.
In short, relax people. Ask the question in 5 years when it doesn't ring as nothing more than speculative tabloid fodder. That goes double for media people with an agenda to knock Bonds whenever they can.
If you're searching for credible, worthwhile water cooler topics, there are loads of them. Will Arizona catch the Giants? Does Brain Sabean have a little magic left to steal a power pitcher from another unwitting team? Can Damian Moss get his act together and help shore up the rotation? Will health determine the Dodgers' fate? Those questions, alone, could easily gobble up an hour or so of your workday (and can carry the discussions well into your lunch hour). Now there's time well spent! But let's not get our panties all in a twist over a guy who has obvious talent but has yet to string together an entire career, let alone one that is worthy of comparison to Bonds.
As you celebrate the Fourth of July tomorrow, do me one favor: Don't compare Albert Pujols to Benjamin Franklin. He'll never have Ben's bat speed.
Keith Larson writes for SFDugout.com because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at firstname.lastname@example.org, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.