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Bonds receives Wild offer

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By The The Tribune-Review
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007

The Washington Wild Things want to give home run king Barry Bonds a chance to finish his career near the major-league city where it started.

On the first day of MLB's free-agency period, the Frontier League's Wild Things provided Bonds his first contract offer.

Of course, it's more of a publicity stunt than a genuine contract proposal. But, with the Pirates showing no interest in bringing Bonds back, the Wild Things' offer is the closet thing to him returning to Pittsburgh, where his career began in 1986 and ended in 1993 when he fled to San Francisco.

In their press release promoting the offer, the Wild Things even included a picture of what Bonds might look like in a team uniform.

Forget that the Frontier League has a maximum age limit that, unless waived, would prohibit the 43-year-old slugger from participating. Or that the league has a maximum player salary of $1,200 a month that would be quite the comedown for Bonds, who earned almost $16 million last year with the Giants.

The contract offer, however, does include incentives that would inflate its value.

"He will have the opportunity to meet certain bonus levels based on breaking any Frontier League single-season offensive record," Wild Things general manager Ross Vecchio said.

Those include Bonds setting the Frontier League mark for home runs (35, by Morgan Burkhardt in 1998), RBI (100, by Pete Pirman in 2005) and walks (86, by Burkhardt in '98). Other incentives would be forthcoming if Bonds set a single-season record in batting average, games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, hit by pitch and/or stolen bases.

Other perks Bonds would get in the contract offer include:

• A single king-sized room when the team is on the road, a luxury for minor-league players.

• Fifty-percent of the proceeds from Bonds-related Wild Things memorabilia.

• A host family for Bonds to live with so he wouldn't have to rent an apartment in Washington.

Vecchio obviously had fun putting together the pseudo proposal.

"Many of the great ones eventually returned to where their careers began," Vecchio said. "Babe Ruth began his career with the Red Sox and then finished with the Boston Braves, Willie Mays started with the New York Giants and finished his career with the New York Mets. And, of course, Hank Aaron began and finished his career in Milwaukee. ... This contract gives Barry the opportunity to play once again in Western Pa., as he continues his career."

The Wild Things also would give Bonds the chance to win an elusive ring, although it wouldn't be for the World Series. The Wild Things are the only independent league team to have advanced to postseason play in each of the past six seasons, losing in the Frontier League championship round last year.

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