Paul O'Neill over Barry Bonds for a World Series Winning Yankees Team

Harold FriendChief Writer IJanuary 26, 2012

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29:  Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees greets former teammate Paul O'Neil prior to him throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in Game Two of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on October 29, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

When he learned that he had been traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right fielder Paul O'Neill, Roberto Kelly wasn't surprised.  He had his theory about the trade.

"If you look at it, left field is open," said Kelly.  "I think they're looking to build up the team and win right away. Left field is open and I think they can afford to buy Bonds. He's out there for them."

Kelly wasn't alone. Many in the media held the same position.

The Kelly for O'Neill trade occurred on Nov. 3, 1992. That year, the New York Yankees had finished tied with the Cleveland Indians for fourth place in the Eastern Division.

The year before, they had finished fifth. In each season, they were 20 games behind the division winner.

Bonds, considered the best player in baseball, said that the Yankees hadn't contacted him. On Dec. 8, 1992, he signed with the San Francisco Giants.

No one in her right mind would conclude that O'Neill was a greater player than Bonds, but neither would anyone in his right mind take Barry Bonds over Paul O'Neill in October.

Bonds only outstanding post-season series was the 2002 World Series. The Giants' problem was that Bonds made a crucial error that contributed greatly to the Giants losing that Series.

Bonds never played on a world champion.

Paul O’Neill is almost synonymous with clutch, despite never having a hit World Series home run. He was involved in one defensive and one offensive play, without which, the Yankees would not have won two World Series.

In the fifth game of the 1996 Series against the Atlanta Braves, a hobbling Paul O’Neill made an outstanding catch on Luis Polonia’s bid for a game-winning hit in the ninth inning.

In the first game of the 2000 World Series, O’Neill battled New York Mets closer Armando Benitz. After falling behind in the count, no balls and two strikes, O'Neill eventually walked.

Luis Polonia, the same Luis Polonia that O’Neill had robbed in 1996, singled him to second. Former Met Jose Viscaino singled to load the bases, and Chuck Knoblauch’s sacrifice fly scored O’Neill with the tying run.

While Roberto Kelly never reached his potential, everyone knows how Barry Bonds allegedly attempted to outdo Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and everyone knows about Paul O’Neill.

Thank goodness Kelly was traded to the Reds and Bonds signed with the Giants.


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