July 2006

Built on Bonds

All wheeling and dealing for Luc Longley and Bobby Hansen aside, former Bulls GM Jerry Krause never got much credit for bringing Chicago six NBA titles in the 1990s. With Michael Jordan on his roster, fans figured, how on earth could Krause and the Bulls not win?

San Franciscans might start asking such a question of Giants GM Brian Sabean.

He’s enjoyed winning seasons in eight of his nine years pulling strings for the Giants, but he hasn’t brought home a World Series crown, despite having the MJ of MLB on his roster all the while. Sabean’s Giants have been good and have gotten very close, even winning the National League in 2002. But Baseball isn’t horseshoes, and players as talented as Barry Bonds– as good as Mays, Mantle, and the rest of them– don’t come around but once every few decades.

These days, with their star on the decline, the Giants struggle to keep their record above .500. Watching this fizzle, while ex-Giants Manager Dusty Baker flails in Chicago, it’s fair to ask where these guys’ careers would be if Barry Bonds hadn’t ever decided to come home.

That was in 1993, ten years into his major league career, when Bonds returned to San Francisco from Pittsburgh and Baker became the team’s manager. Sabean arrived in town that year as well, taking the assistant GM position after seven years with the Yankees.

Thirteen years later, all three are viewed separately as men of great baseball accomplishment. Now we’ll see if two of them really deserve it.