The Original Bad News Barry

Bobby Curran
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Friday - March 17, 2006
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We should be getting ready for the joys of another major league baseball season. We should be enjoying all the stories out of spring training, analyzing our favorite teams, evaluating the new players and rookies, gauging pitching staffs and looking over the rosters of our least-favorite rivals. Our appetites should be whetted by the World Baseball Classic, where a glance at the rooting sections of the teams from Latin America reminds us of the passion people have for this game.

But we’re not, and we won’t be allowed to anytime soon.

On March 27, a book will hit the store shelves on the one nightmarish topic that won’t go away: Barry Bonds and steroids. Excerpts from the book by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters have already been released. There is nothing new in the allegations about the Giants’ slugger and steroid use. The devil is in the details.

The book was well-researched, containing the results of 1,000 pages of documentation and 200 interviews.

Bottom line: No reasonable person could still be under the delusion that Bonds was drug-free, but even his long-time accusers have to be surprised at the extent of his commitment to chemical enhancement.

In addition to the usual array of steroids such as DecaDurabolin and human growth hormone, Bonds was apparently ingesting Trenbolone, a substance designed to stimulate muscle development in cattle. Sort of gives a whole new meaning to the question “Where’s the beef?”

Bonds also was shortening the recovery cycles, periods without taking steroids, to about a week. The result was Bonds was essentially all steroids, all the time. Steroids work, and Bonds packed on the muscle until he began to resemble a comic book superhero.

As his near-perfect swing began to reap the benefits of increased power, the home run totals jumped, and more and more of them were tape measure blasts. When the drug questions began to be raised, Bonds was emphatic in his denials.

He was not alone in this. Before a congressional committee, Mark McGwire lost his ability to answer a direct question, Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English and Rafael Palmero resorted to a finger-pointing never-ever defense just prior to testing positive.

Yes, it’s true that plenty of players took advantages of baseball’s lax rules during the steroid years. But they’re not the record holders. Baseball is more stats happy than any other sport. And of all the records, perhaps the most prestigious is Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs.

Bonds already has the single season mark, and is apparently determined to catch Hammerin’ Hank. He must be stopped. The record would have no meaning.

And, quite simply, Bonds doesn’t deserve it.

Rarely have we seen an athlete lie with such impunity. People who know him say he will never fess up or apologize; it isn’t in him.

It’s a given that he’ll surge by Babe Ruth, but perhaps age and health will conspire to prevent him from passing Aaron.

Despite Bonds being a miserable example of a human being, it shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame. He’s the best player of his generation, and was before the drug use started. And Ty Cobb was no better a man than Bonds.

But I hope that vote happens soon, like about five years from now, the minimum passage of time required after retirement.

That would be good. So we can all go back to the important stuff at this time of year, like figuring out if the Mets will have enough bats to finally unseat the Braves in the NL East.

Play ball!

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