Former San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds told USA Today on April 13 the New York Yankees should celebrate returning designated hitter Alex Rodriguez tying Willie Mays for fourth in MLB's all-time home runs. Rodriguez is just five homers away from tying Mays.
If it were up to Barry Bonds, the New York Yankees ought to celebrate Alex Rodriguez tying Willie Mays for fourth in baseball's number of all-time home runs.
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According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Yankees "have no plans to celebrate" Rodriguez's impending accolade. They even refuse to list it, he adds. This is ironic considering the Yankees are well aware of Rodriguez needing one more stolen base to tie Bert Daniels for 16th in franchise history.
The team also knows A-Rod is just three RBIs short of tying the now-retired Derek Jeter for ninth in their illustrious history, per USA Today.
With these, Nightengale explains the Yankees side when it comes to Rodriguez's gaudy home run totals:
"The Yankees insist it's not a milestone, saying any historic home run is tainted. They told Rodriguez they won't pay the $6 million bonus for tying Mays, as written in his 2007 contract, saying his year-long suspension eradicates any milestones.
"And as long as the Yankees don't declare it a milestone, they can't market it, with an independent arbitrator likely making a final ruling this summer."
Bonds, baseball's all-time leader in home runs with 762 in his career, told Nightengale in an exclusive, one-hour telephone interview on Monday baseball fans should be happy for A-Rod once he ties Mays:
"My godfather (Mays) means the world to me, I love him to a T, but when Alex hits No. 660, I'll be happy for him. Willie will be happy for him. Everybody should be happy for him.
"Any time anybody in the game does something that's a great accomplishment, the game of baseball should celebrate that.
"No matter what. Baseball is benefiting from that person's hard work, so baseball should at least celebrate.
"Why the hate? Why hate on something you're paying to see? I don't understand it. He's entertaining us.
"I wish life wasn't like that."
Nightengale stresses both Bonds and Rodriguez have gone through intense scrutiny during their major league careers. The former was forced to testify before a grand jury in Oct. 2003 regarding his ties to BALCO and pefromance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
On the other hand, Rodriguez's alleged involvement in the infamous Biogenesis PED scandal in 2013 resulted in the league suspending him for the entire 2014 MLB season, per USA Today.
Nightengale reveals the two spent a week together this past offseason, working on Rodriguez's hitting. During that time, A-Rod told Bonds he plans to beat his record of 762 homers. Bonds laughed at the notion, but says it is possible:
"I told him he better get to work. I'm not saying it's not possible. I just don't know if he can do it or not. But he's capable. And being a DH (designated hitter) is a good situation so you don't have to beat your body up.
"I do like what I'm seeing. He looks better. I like where his head is at. He'll make the corrections he needs."
For his part, Rodriguez told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch after the Yankees' 6-5 road win over the Baltimore Orioles on April 13 he appreciates the support he's been getting:
"Anyone that supports me at this point, it's well-appreciated. It's not taken for granted, that's for sure. But my focus continues to stay between the lines.
"I'm so focused on baseball. One day I'm at third, one day I'm at first, maybe tomorrow I'm at DH. I have a lot on my plate right now, and I'm having a lot of fun doing it. Tonight was a big win."
When Rodriguez signed his mammoth $275 million deal with the Yankees eight years ago, it included a marketing agreement which stipulates a $6 million bonus for tying each of the next four leaders on the all-time home run list: Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Bonds (762), per MLB.com.
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