Ron Cook certainly isn't happy about Barry Bonds' presence in Pittsburgh today.
He also doesn't think Pittsburgh fans think too highly of another former local sports icon.
The veteran Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports reporter said as much in his Monday column that was primarily spent bashing the Pirates for including Bonds in the team's Opening Day festivities this afternoon. Bonds-who won the National League MVP Award during his time in Pittsburgh from 1986-92, will help present current Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen with his first NL MVP award before the opening pitch.
Cook stated that Bonds inclusion is ridiculous given that he is one of the most "detested" athletes ever in Pittsburgh, even more detested than former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart.
I feel that Cook is off base on both accounts. First, I think it is commendable that the Pirates organization wants to welcome back the only other living Pirate to have won the NL MVP award twice. It's time to start celebrating what the early '90s Buccos were able to accomplish: Three consecutive trips to the NL Championship Series while averaging 97 wins a year from 1990-92. It's also good for the current crop of Pirates players to first hand the history that this great organization has. If Bonds and other fellow Pirates want to support the current group, they should be welcomed with open arms by the organization. Bonds included.
The comparing Bonds to Stewart is where I really get perplexed. Cook must be alluding to Bonds and Stewart's inability to get it done in the post season. Bonds hit just .191 with one home run in 20 post season games in the Black and Gold. Stewart threw six interceptions in two AFC Championship losses.
The difference between the two, however, is the attitude of both men when they played in Pittsburgh. Bonds was a moody diva in Pittsburgh; a recluse to the city and the fans. His tirade with former manager Jim Leyland is now a YouTube classic (I'm not linking the video due to it's language).
I can certainly see why Bonds may be detested by some Pirates fans of that era, and I do understand the boos that shower over him this afternoon.With that being said, the man was the lynchpin of some great Pirates teams that brought the city many enjoyment moments. That shouldn't be forgotten.
Stewart's character? By comparison, Stewart was a saint in Pittsburgh. Yes, he may have struggled in both championship games, but by all accounts, Stewart was a great teammate and citizen during his time in the Steel City. In a city where the fan base values the character of their athletes, Stewart more than passed the bar in that category, and therefore, I don't think he is detested at all in Pittsburgh. Certainly not the way Bonds is. I'd say a better comparison to Bonds would be Neil O'Donnell, who threw two awful interceptions in Super Bowl XXX only to leave town for greener pastures months afterward. But even O'Donnell had a better reputation (as an person) than Bonds. Bonds simply is just in a class all to himself.
While Bonds will surely get boos today, here's hoping Kordell Stewart never receives the same treatment upon his future return to Heinz Field.