King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

Barry Bonds in drag: Is this what it takes to create "team chemistry"? We'll see. Plus: A Buck O'Neil petition.

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You may have seen tape of Barry Bonds in drag at San Francisco Giants camp Tuesday. He was impersonating Paula Abdul for “Giants Idol,” a spring hazing gag in which rookies must sing for a panel of judges.

“Giants Idol” was conceived by well-traveled veteran first baseman Mark Sweeney, a newcomer to the team, with an eye toward improving team chemistry, which was lacking last season as the Giants struggled.

“When things are like this, I swear to you, you play better as a team,” outfielder Moises Alou told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Several other reports from Giants camp have noted the improved team chemistry as well.

All right, game on. We’ll watch the Giants this year and see if that improved chemistry, should it hold up, has a positive effect.

Readers with long memories and no lives to occupy them will remember that previous chemistry experiments in this column have confirmed the importance of team chemistry for people who already believe in its importance, while also validating the feelings of those who, like me, think it’s a lot of hooey, that it’s a product, not a cause, of winning.

Chemistry’s funny that way. It’s like religion. Whatever you believe, you believe the evidence backs you up.

The Giants’ apparent improved chemistry seems to be flowing from Bonds, who as manager Felipe Alou told Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck, “has loosened up for whatever reason.”

Schmuck points out a probable reason: Bonds is being followed around by a camera crew that’s set to record every move of his season-long chase of Hank Aaron’s career home run record for a documentary or reality series. Negotiations are underway between the independent production company doing the filming — which Schmuck speculates is owned by Bonds — and ESPN.



So Bonds’ newfound loosey-goosey happiness may just be an act, a product of Bonds making nice for the cameras in hopes of polishing his image through a TV show he controls.

Shouldn’t matter. Whatever his motivations, he seems to have helped make camp looser, improved the chemistry. Is acting upbeat even when you might not feel like it not an important part of team chemistry anyway?

Full disclosure: The Giants are No. 1 in the Complicated Calculus of Teams I Root For, and I think they’re going to be lousy this year.

A lot depends on Bonds of course. If he’s not able to come back from his knee surgeries and play like Barry Bonds, the Giants will be hideous. If he’s able to put together another incredible season despite the injuries and his 42nd birthday at midseason, they have a shot at mediocrity.

So if they win 100 games I’ll have little choice but to consider the role of team chemistry. After all, it couldn’t be that I’m just lousy at predicting what’s going to happen in a long baseball season, could it?

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Induct Buck? A petition [PERMALINK]

At least one supporter of Buck O’Neil’s failed Hall of Fame candidacy has taken matters into his own hands by launching an online petition to lobby Cooperstown.

Charles Margulis, 45, of Oakland, Calif., reports that he’ll forward a list of signatures to the Hall every week in hopes that O’Neil, a star player and manager in the Negro Leagues who became a scout and coach in the integrated major leagues, will be reconsidered before the July induction ceremony of 17 deceased Negro League players and executives.

I don’t think it’ll work, and it probably shouldn’t. The Hall of Fame is a lot of things to a lot of people, but a popularity contest it shouldn’t be.

“I don’t necessarily think the petition will ‘work’ either, in the sense that it will get Buck in the Hall,” Margulis writes by e-mail. “But after all Buck has done to keep the history of the Negro Leagues alive, and make that history come alive for folks like me, it seems the least we can do is have a space to show our support for him.”

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Math correction [PERMALINK]

I made a mathematical error in Monday’s Olympics wrap-up column.

I wrote that seven athletes had tested positive for drugs in 700 tests in Salt Lake City, and one had turned up positive in 1,200 tests in Turin. “So, thanks to the crackdown by world anti-doping forces, we’ve gone from 1 percent of the tests coming up positive to 0.0083 percent,” I wrote.

Extra zero, as many readers pointed out. It should have said 0.083 percent. The original story has been fixed.

This is the kind of thing that led me to only get six out of 50 questions right on my Wonderlic test. No wonder I didn’t get drafted by the NFL. I only got half the answers correct!

Previous column: Negro Leagues Hall of Famers

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