17 Walking Barry Bonds:
The Ethics of the
R. SCOTT KRETCHMAR
Imagine, if you will, a variation on the well-known final stanza of Ernest Thayer's “Casey at the Bat.” This is where we learn that the Mudville hero had struck out.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere chil-
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey was inten-
While my changes may have ruined both the story and the poem, the fact remains that since first base was open when Casey stepped to the plate, he probably would have been given a free pass. As we all know, the intentional walk has been around a long time, and it's generally regarded as a legitimate competitive strategy. It is often used to set up force outs and double plays or produce better pitching match-ups (righty-righty or lefty-lefty combinations). It might also be employed to avoid mythical sluggers like Casey, or real ones like Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.
The employment of the intentional walk to circumvent star players appears to be increasing. In 1927, the season during