The man on the left is Barry Bonds. The real Barry Bonds as he looked in 1987, when he hit a very mortal 25 home runs, 54 RBI, had 54 walks and a .261 batting average. His weight at that time was around 180-185.
The man on the right is Super-Bonds as seen in 2002, when he hit 46 home runs, 110 RBI, had 198 walks and a .370 batting average. At this point he was tipping the scales at a very buff 245.
For the first 14 years of his career, Bonds averaged just under 32 home runs. In the past 5 seasons, he’s averaged just under 52 home runs per year, including the record-breaking 73 in ’01. Now I’m no statistician, but something just doesn’t seem right. Did he read Ted Williams book on hitting? Or hit the batting cages a little extra during those years? My guess, and I’m not alone, is no.
Performance enhancing drugs. Bonds takes, or has taken them in the past. It doesn’t take Sherlock friggin’ Holmes to close this case. You have the physical evidence – just look at the pictures. You have the statistical evidence clearly documented. You have BALCO. And now you have his trainer on tape saying not only did he take them, but that he knew in advance when testing was to take place so he could avoid detection.
The bottom line is, Barry Bonds is cheating. He is in the record books, and will be again in the very near future for one of the most coveted records of all: career home runs. And if nothing is done, he will continue to belittle all that his predecessors have done to make the game of baseball great. The truly commendable feats of men like Ruth, Mays, Aaron and Maris, already overshadowed in the record books by names like McGwire (admitted to taking Androstenedione) and Sosa (he of the corked bat), are at risk of falling further down the ranks.
And what of today’s real greats? How many MVP’s should Albert Pujols have? But he plays the game as it was meant to be, and gets penalized for it. Bonds just collected his seventh MVP, in my opinion another stain on the game that I love.
Who will make it right? Bud Selig? Not a chance. Gene Orza and the Player’s Union? Nope. Old Gene doesn’t see steroids as being any worse than cigarettes. The owners? The clean players? No sign of it yet. The Baseball Writers made their position clear when they handed him another MVP, which came with a cool $500,000 bonus. And finally, the fans? Perhaps more disappointing than the rest, the answer is still no. Bonds was voted to participate in his 13th All-Star game this past season, placing second in the NL voting with just under 3 million votes.
It seems the masses are content with the success of players like Bonds. As long as they get to see their 500-foot home run or chase a ball around in their kayak with dreams of selling it on eBay, who cares?
::steps carefully down from soapbox and starts the long hike down from the moral high ground::