Barry Bad Idea 

Until this weekend, I hadn't paid much attention to the news of Barry Bonds's deal with ESPN to do an all-Barry, all-the-time reality show. It's not something I'd watch -- for reasons beyond not having cable TV, that is -- so I figured, pfft, big deal.

I reverse course: it is a big deal. A big dumb deal. More details of the show and its convoluted arrangements were laid out in this Chron piece Saturday. Praise be to John Shea for raising some tough questions. The main one:

What kind of a distraction to the team will the 24-7 coverage of Bonds be?

Shea notes that Bonds has already gotten special privileges for his entourage to photograph and film him in places where cameras usually aren't allowed:

And last season, despite the rules against cameras, one of Bonds' many assistants, Anthony Phills, had the freedom before, during and after games to take video and still shots of his boss in the clubhouse. He also had access to the trainers' and weight rooms.

Now, as the Giants make what could be their last playoff push in several years, there could be an ESPN camera crew in everyone's face, every night. Maybe everyone's cool with it. Maybe Matt Cain, Lance Niekro, Todd Linden and other young players trying to work their way into big-league rhythms won't be distracted. Maybe the veterans are used to Barry being Barry. Maybe everyone is willing to make the trade-off: you want the world's best hitter on your team, you sacrifice some peace of mind and some sacred players-only clubhouse space.

For the record, the team hasn't protested. At least publicly. The front office is making nice noises about the show -- which, as Shea also points out, will not be part of ESPN's news coverage.

We could argue that Bonds has every right to cash in on his fame and the glow of his home-run chase. But there's two kinds of right: legal and...ethical or moral is a bit of a stretch in this case, so let's say the second kind of right is common-sensical . As in Do the Right Thing.

I'll leave the legal bits to the lawyers; they can sort out appearance waivers and privacy violations and conflicts of interest. Common-sensically, this deal is as good an idea as playing rap full-blast in Felipe's Buena Vista Pizzeria Club. The very existence of the Barry Show tells us that Barry isn't really worried how the Barry Show will affect the San Francisco Giants in 2006.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he's polled his teammates and the coaching staff and everyone gave him an unequivocal thumbs-up. Maybe he went to the front office and asked permission. Maybe he thought it was flaxseed oil. Maybe maybe maybe. Stranger things have happened.


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