Banish Barry Bonds to baseball purgatory with Rose
Published 12:22 am Monday, March 13, 2006
I remember Barry Bonds as a young Pittsburgh Pirate and wince at photos of him today as the Michelin Man and the trashing he and his cohorts gave baseball's sacred records.
I don't need a book like “Game of Shadows” or “THE TRUTH” excerpted in Sports Illustrated ahead of its March 27 publication to know about the Giants slugger and steroids.
Despite his outlandish proportions, he is revealed as an even smaller man than I ever imagined in SI, from his racist attitude toward white stars to his shabby treatment of women.
But to credit journalism with destroying his reputation is a reach.
Bonds did that himself repeatedly, banishing himself in the process to a special purgatory with Pete Rose, whose 4,256 hits counted for nothing when he lied about betting on baseball for 17 years.
Apparently the proud Bonds snapped in 1998 when his 37 home runs were barely half of Mark McGwire's record 70 and all but ignored by media swarming the chase of Roger Maris by McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
I'll always remember McGwire's 62nd because it came on my birthday.
Bonds absorbed the unspoken message that the owners were content raking in riches from home run derbies rather than rocking their bulging boat by reining in blatant steroid abuse.
That off-season, authors Mark Fainaru-Wade and Lance Williams, San Francisco Chronicle reporters, claim, Bonds went on a doping tear that would eventually encompass 10 performance-enhancing drugs, in the process going from a home run every 16.1 at-bats to almost twice as frequently - every 8.5 at-bats - at a point in his career most players are producing less and sliding toward retirement.
In fact, his seven best home run frequency rates coincide with the seven seasons the book taints with steroid use.
Baseball finally banned performance-enhancing drugs after the 2002 season, when the 38-year-old Bonds won his first batting title by hitting .370.
Bonds that summer reportedly used Clomid, a drug doctors prescribe to women for infertility.
Bonds swatted a ridiculous 73 in 2001, when he reportedly even tried trenbolene, a steroid created to improve muscle quality in beef cattle.
He needs seven home runs to pass the immortal Babe Ruth and four-dozen to eclipse my man, Hank Aaron.
I cherish the autographed baseball card I have from writing to Hammerin' Hank in 1972.
Like his total, I believe it to be authentic.
If Bonds, 41, passes Aaron, he will have hit 345 homers beginning with the season he turned 35 - 26 percent better than anyone else in history.
Put another way, those 345 home runs are the equivalent of Joe DiMaggio's career (361) on top of a career that by 33 already rivaled Frank Robinson's.
In 2005, three knee operations limited him to 42 at-bats in just 14 games, yet the seven-time National League MVP still smacked five round-trippers to reach 708.
He has repeatedly denied using steroids, including in testimony before a California grand jury.
Bonds is entering his 21st big-league season, last in a five-year, $90 million contract.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “I do have some sad news to report. Bjork couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her.”
Anniversaries: “South Park” starts its 10th season on Comedy Central March 22.
How conservative are the childless creators of the foulmouthed Colorado kids?
Matt Stone, 34, and Trey Parker, 36, liken George W. Bush to Homer Simpson because “he's harebrained sometimes, but he's got a good heart.”
Also, according to Parker, “We still believe that all people are born bad and are made good by society, rather than the opposite.”
Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet Union president, 75.
Cartoon of the week: The San Diego Union-Tribune showed the FEMA parade float showing up in New Orleans days after Mardi Gras ended.
The estimated $400 billion by which Americans will underpay the IRS this year would cover the projected $360 billion U.S. budget deficit, according to USA Today.
Most financially savvy people, according to Forbes.com: Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Milton Friedman, George Soros and … Anna Nicole Smith, who ended up before the Supreme Court with her probate fight for an $88.5 million inheritance.
Sentenced: Randy “Duke” Cunningham, 64, the California Republican who quit Congress and pleaded guilty last fall to taking $2.4 million in bribes, got the harshest term ever doled out to a congressman - eight years, four months in prison.
Obits: Dana Reeve, 44, wife of film “Superman” Christopher Reeve, died of lung cancer March 6 in New York, though she didn't smoke. Her husband died Oct. 10, 2004. The couple had a son, Will, 13.
Kirby Puckett, 45, the youngest deceased Hall of Famer except for Lou Gehrig, 37, died March 6 after a stroke at his Arizona home.
The Chicago native carried the Minnesota Twins to World Series titles before glaucoma cut short his baseball career, which he spent entirely with the Twins.
I was at the playoffs in 1987 when the Twins took out the Tigers. Their other title came in 1991.
Puckett, who played from 1984 to 1995, batted .318, won six Gold Gloves and made All-Star 10 times.
Darren McGaven, 83, who played a reporter in the 1970s TV series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” died in Los Angeles.
He won an Emmy in 1990 for his portrayal of “Murphy Brown's” dad.
He also played Ralphie Parker's father in 1983's “A Christmas Story,” which I've still never seen.
Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic was found dead from a heart attack in his prison cell at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.