This has been a pretty special season for me. For reasons I can’t really explain, I’m hitting home runs like I’ve never hit them before. I’m on a pace to challenge Mark McGwire’s season record of 70, and because of that it seems like every writer, radio and television reporter in America wants a part of me.
The Giants have been great about it, setting up press conferences so I can take care of the media in groups instead of taking on individual writers in piecemeal fashion at my locker. Hitting homers is fun, I’m enjoying myself, and it shows.
I’ve never been very accessible to the media. Now I am, and it seems like the cliché that best applies is “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver was on me like a cheap suit, saying that it was a phony act that all of a sudden I’m nice with the media after years of being a bogeyman. Then I got it from David Halberstam on ESPN.com’s Page 2 web site. Halberstam compared me to a Yankee player in the 1920s, notoriously unfriendly with writers, who when his career started to go downhill started to cheer up with the press. He needed them to write nice things about him so he could hold his job a few years longer. Halberstam said my cooperativeness was just public relations spin, that none of it was me, just my handlers.
Getting a full frontal assault from David Halberstam is pretty tough. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, the author of some of the most important books of the past 20 years, and a respected reporter who is credited with changing America’s attitude about Vietnam. What do you say to somebody like that?
Well, for one, I might say that he never came to me. He doesn’t know me, he just knows what he’s heard. I also might point out that I’m having my best season, so I don’t exactly need to beg people to like me to keep my job.
Okay, fine. I’m sorry. I once did tell a writer speaking to my father to “get the hell out of here.” I’ve snubbed writers, brushed ‘em off, and been rude. I’ve not run out every ground ball, either. I should, but I haven’t. For all of this, I apologize. I was wrong.
I grew up feeling like the sun rose and set on me. I had talent for baseball, and since I was a little kid I got to hang out with big leaguers. My dad, Bobby Bonds, starred for the Giants. Willie Mays is my Godfather. Reggie Jackson is my cousin. Dusty Baker changed my diapers. I was always a star. How many people growing up like that wouldn’t have some attitude? That’s not an excuse, it’s just the way it is.
I was immature, but I was in the spotlight early. I made a lot of money and had fame at a time when others my age could make their mistakes away from the glare of publicity. I talked to the writers in Pittsburgh, but Jim Leyland told me to do less of that and concentrate on my job more. I was criticized, and did all I knew. I stopped talking to writers.
Some guys are better at it than I am, for whatever reason. I wish I had Tony Gwynn’s knack for it. I wish I had the kind of personality that Willie has, where people thought of him as the happy-go-lucky “Say Hey Kid”. I just don’t.
But I’m older now. I’ve been through a divorce, and I have kids of my own. I’m getting a dose of what I gave my folks. My wife tells me to be nicer, and I suppose I’m becoming an elder statesman of the game. I’m thinking about my legacy, I care what people think, and I want to be loved like any other human.
I did things I shouldn’t have done, but I can’t change that, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. I also don’t mind pointing out that nobody ever hears about my being arrested, having children out of wedlock, hitting women (or men), or getting into scandal.
I’ve had a great life, and I have no right to complain, but I would like to say to David Halberstam, or Tim McCarver, that I’m embracing what’s happened to me, and I think I deserve a second chance as much as the next guy. That’s what makes America great, isn’t it?
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism