Special to Page 2
You can write and say whatever you want about Barry Bonds now. He's the new O.J. Simpson, on trial for threatening to murder the legacies of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron.
Even though it certainly appears Barry juiced on his way to 700 home runs, it doesn't seem fair that he's receiving the same treatment as The Juice.
But, make no mistake, with Barry on the brink of surpassing Ruth, it's time for sportswriters to cash in and crucify Barry for money. Geraldo Rivera must be livid he's a poor writer. Barry-bashing in print will get you the lead on "SportsCenter" and put you on the cover of Sports Illustrated and in ESPN The Magazine.
Two San Francisco sportswriters proved beyond a shadow of a publisher's doubt that Bonds ingested steroids and human growth hormone throughout the late '90s and early in the new millennium. Now, another sports scribe is unveiling his Barry book, and it details the motivation for Barry's love of the juice.
Can you believe this? Barry Bonds used steroids because muscle-bound bombers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa "saved baseball" by stroking 136 combined homers during a magical 1998 duel.
Not only is Barry a cheat, a boorish ass, a womanizer and a tax evader, he's also capable of being jealous.
Yep, according to writer Jeff Pearlman, Barry told Ken Griffey Jr. and several other unnamed dinner companions that he was joining the baseball arms race and was willing to stick needles in his rear end to do it.
Pearlman, who was not at the alleged dinner as far as we know, quoted Barry's message to Griffey and Co. verbatim:
"You know what? I had a helluva season last year, and nobody gave a crap. Nobody. As much as I've complained about McGwire and Canseco and all of the bull with steroids, I'm tired of fighting it. I turn 35 this year. I've got three or four good seasons left, and I wanna get paid. I'm just gonna start using some hard-core stuff, and hopefully it won't hurt my body. Then I'll get out of the game and be done with it."
Seems like a new Bonds bombshell is coming out every day, and why not? You can write or say anything about Bonds. We're 99.99 percent sure he took steroids, and we're 100 percent sure we don't want him to pass Babe Ruth on the home run chart.
Sportswriters and broadcasters want this so bad that some of them are pushing for Bud Selig to suspend Bonds this season. Not only did Bonds cheat -- just like 75 percent of the players, according to Ken Caminiti, a far more credible source than uninvolved sportswriters -- but he was driven by jealousy.
The latter crime is what cracks me up about the latest attack on Bonds.
People are genuinely upset that Bonds grew frustrated with baseball's unwillingness to address the steroid issue and sportswriters' celebration of McGwire's chemically enhanced "magical season" and basically said, "If I can't beat 'em, I might as well join 'em."
If McGwire, Sosa, money-hungry owners and spineless, jersey-chasing, look-the-other-way, hypocritical baseball writers caused Bonds to use steroids, then I feel sorry for Bonds.
He's a victim in all of this, no different than the kids who turn to steroids because they want to be just like Barry Bonds.
During the McGwire-Sosa farce, the media sent the clear message that using steroids was OK. I'll quote Pearlman's book to make my point. Pearlman quoted Jay Canizaro, one of Bonds' teammates in 1999, saying this about Bonds:
"Hell, he took off his shirt the first day and his back just looked like a mountain of acne. Anybody who had any kind of intelligence or street smarts about them knew Barry was using some serious stuff."
And I'm supposed to believe the same thing couldn't be said about McGwire?
Balls were flying out of parks at a record clip, players' biceps and shoulders were expanding at a record clip, and all we heard were a bunch of smoke-screen stories about juiced baseballs and an andro bottle in McGwire's locker.
Gimme a break.
The excerpt from Pearlman's book humanizes Bonds. He's driven by the same emotions as the rest of us. Jealousy is a vice we all carry. It's great that Ken Griffey Jr. didn't succumb to his feelings of jealousy. More power to him.
But there are reasons we establish laws and rules. It's because most of us can't control ourselves without them. If police never handed out speeding tickets, most of us would ignore the signs and drive as fast as we wanted. If there were no penalties for defaulting on a debt, many of us would not pay our bills.
Bonds watched his peers get rewarded for apparently cheating. The whole country saluted McGwire. If baseball purists, the seamheads who allegedly care about the game, called BS on McGwire and Sosa and celebrated Bonds' truly astonishing 400/400 feat, Bonds likely wouldn't be nipping at Ruth's heels today.
But we didn't do that. No one imagined Bonds' challenging Ruth's legacy as the greatest slugger of all time. So now Bonds must be vilified, disgraced and, if we're lucky, run out of baseball. He can't do what Jason Giambi and almost every steroid cheat has done.
Why can't he?
Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for The Kansas City Star. His newspaper is celebrating his 10 years as a columnist with the publishing of Jason's first book, "Love Him, Hate Him: 10 Years of Sports, Passion and Kansas City." It's a collection of Jason's most memorable, thought-provoking and funny columns over the past decade. You can purchase the book at TheKansasCityStore.com. Jason can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sound off to Page 2 here.