“Go for it,” Bond said in an exclusive telephone interview this week from his home north of San Francisco. “The way he swings he can even hit one in a day and overtake me. I do not care. Why not?”
But Bond would like to take his seat at Oracle Park, playing judge for the San Francisco Giants next season. Discussions are currently taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area and it is entirely possible to consider Judge being a free agent after this historic season ends.
“I hope he signs here,” Bonds said. “Could it happen? I don’t know. It depends on what the Yankee payroll is. But we’d love to have that, I’ll tell you.”
Bond is an independent contractor with the Giants in an honorary role and has specifically stated that he has no input on signing or trading for players. But as the team’s biggest fan and the all-time leader with 762 homers, he certainly could be root, root, root for the home team.
At the same time chasing judge Roger Maris and the 61-homeer mark in New York, Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is on 698 homers and could become the first player to reach 700 as Bonds did on September 16, 2004.
Bond loves Pujols for what he has done. He was around when Bond last played in 2007.
“One of my people,” said Bond. “He is the master of that art.”
But Bond falls in love with a 30-year-old judge, whom he still anticipates fulfilling.
The Yankees set it all up this spring when they offered him a seven-year, $213.5 million extension. The judge turned it down. After a season spanning the ages, during which he could even win the Triple Crown in the American League, he’s approaching the prospect of Mike Trout Money: 12 Years with the Los Angeles Angels, $426.5 million.
The Yanks now say they will try to re-sign Judge in the off-season. Both he and the Giants certainly could afford him.
“We’re in the Bay Area — he’s a Bay Area guy — we hope they don’t sign him, and we can get him,” Bond said. “Me. He’s so good.”
Judge and Bond are from the Bay Area. Bond, the son of the late Giants outfielder Bobby Bonds, grew up on the peninsula from Old Candlestick Park. Judge lives in the Stockton area, 90 minutes east of San Francisco, and he was 9 when Bonds smashed Mark McGwire’s three-year single-season home run record of 70.
Judge was a big Bond and Giants fan, telling San Francisco Chronicle In a recent interview that Bond was the biggest hitter of all time, “in my opinion.”
There will always be controversy over Bond’s home record as he played during the so-called steroid era of Major League Baseball. Bonds never failed a drug test, but his alleged association with performance-enhancing drugs was well documented in baseball’s Mitchell Report.
To this day, there are some who believe that Bond’s numbers are tainted, and that it has cost him a shot at being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame so far.
Bonds said he did not wish to make detailed comment about playing in that round.
“Since I have all the records, I don’t want to be a title,” Bonds said. “Every era is different. I barely played baseball. I’ll be gone one day, and I don’t have to listen to it anymore. I have three grandchildren. I’m 58 years old. Really?”
The judge is not one to doubt. For that, the number of bonds is valid.
“This is the record,” Judge said exclusively of the single-season mark. “I saw him do it. I woke up late to see him do it. That’s the record. No one can take that away.”
The fact is, Bond is listed in the record books by MLB as the all-time leader in both categories. There is no asterisk, no ambiguity.
“It doesn’t matter what people say,” Bonds said. “In MLB it says Barry Bond. That’s all that matters, right? Anyone can have their opinion, and I respect their opinion, but MLB says 762 is the record, 73 is the record. Unless MLB changed something, they’re still there.
“So [Judge] correct. That player has a chance to break many records. Pucca.”
When he left the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent after the 1992 season, Bond could have easily landed with the Yankees. The club made a major offer to the Bonds, giving them a deadline of several hours to make a decision.
Bonds recalled being upset by the deadline and walked out of his agent’s Beverly Hills office. The deadline passed, and by that time the Giants had made their offer.
“I felt the craziest feeling in my gut,” he said. “I didn’t care what the offer was. I was going home.”
Bond expects the judge to have the same sentiment in the end.
Bonds signed for a chump change of money will now be on the table: six years, $43.75 million ($91.83 million in today’s dollars). According to the records kept by Baseball ReferenceBonds earned $188.3 million in his 22-year career, which is less than what the Yankees have already offered to judge, who is 30.
“He has a long way to go. He is still in the early part of his career,” Bonds said. “I pray that Aaron never gets hurt and has a long career. Right now, he’s still young. But does his ability sound great? Woo. Is he going to make a lot of money? Woo.
“Will I bet on that? Oh yes. It’s going to be a very interesting conversation. I hope we win.”