Realizing that just the title may evoke strong reactions for this review, I will start with this disclaimer: I am in the camp that believes Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame and like the book and this review states, the book did not change my mind nor is that an objective of the book. I do believe this is worth reading whether or not one agrees with this author. Here is my review of "The Case for Barry Bonds."
Title/Author: "The Case for Barry Bonds in the Hall of Fame: The Untold and Forgotten Stories of Baseball's Home Run King" by K. P. Wee
Rating: 4 of 5 stars (very good)
Review: Barry Bonds is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of Major League Baseball for many reasons. Of course, the main reason is the allegations of his use of performance enhancing drugs while setting the all time record for home runs – one of the most hallowed records in all of sports. Add in his personality and his frequent disdain of the press and you have a few of the main reasons given why as of this review, he has yet to be elected by baseball writers to the Hall of Fame. This book by K. P. Wee tells many reasons why he should be enshrined.
To Wee's credit, he realizes that many people are already set in their minds about Bonds and his worthiness to be enshrined or to hold the records that he does. He also acknowledges at the beginning of the book that he very likely will not change the minds of those who have such strong beliefs about Bonds, either way. Instead, he states that the book is written to tell about relationships with former teammates, stories and statistics that have not been widely reported.
To that extent, the book does do what it sets out to do, although there are several stories that are repeated many times during the book. One example of this is that despite the coverage of the argument between Bonds and his manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time (1991), Jim Leyland, the two men have a strong friendship that endures to this day and the argument was something that was blown out of proportion. This is one of many repetitive points, some of which come about because some of the players interviewed are quoted multiple times in different chapters.
Speaking of the chapters, each one is about either a reason that voters may cite in order to not vote for Bonds or reasons that the author believes are used in order to withhold a vote for Bonds. Wee will either point to double standards with these reasons (why is so-and-so given a pass while Bonds is criticized for it?) or will provide evidence that disputes the claim. This makes up the bulk of the book and even though Wee may have stated that he was simply trying to set the record straight, it comes across as either excuses to those against Bonds being inducted or items that Bonds supporters will gleefully use without careful thought.
In the end, it was a book that I thought tried to carry out its mission and was substantial but missed its mark on trying to be objective. Not that there is anything wrong with that and even if more people disagree with Wee than agree, he at least accomplishes one goal of presenting a case for Bonds to be included in the Hall of Fame.
I wish to thank Riverdale Avenue Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.