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Thursday, February 26, 2004
Updated: March 2, 1:09 PM ET
 



TAKING STOCK OF BONDS: DOES HE ... OR DOESN'T HE? IS HE ... OR ISN'T HE?


Once again, the nation's sporting press is all over Barry Bonds' case, this time for his presumed steroid use. Words like "asterisk" and phrases like "steroid abuser" are dropping from the sky like a nuclear rain. David Schoenfield thinks this is ridiculously unfair and is supported -- after an idiosyncratic fashion -- by several other members of the Writers' Bloc, some of whom still reserve the right to think of Bonds as an ... well, read on and weep.

Guilty before proven innocent | From David Schoenfield

The implications are as clear as the fear in Turk Wendell's eyes when Barry Bonds steps to the plate.

Bonds is big, strong and lethal at the plate, Bonds takes steroids, Bonds is a fraud, Bonds' records should be wiped from the books and Bonds should just go to hell because we never liked him in the first place anyway.

Wendell -- a man who wears a chain of animal teeth around his neck, mind you -- says Bonds is a steroid user. Wendell may be an active player, but he's just the latest to join the Bonds-bashing bandwagon. The Bonds-on-steroids issue isn't about presumption of innocence before guilt. It isn't about steroids. It's not about putting an "asterisk" next to Bonds' 73 home runs. I don't even think it's an issue of race.

It's really about another chance for the media to jump all over a man they love to hate and a player they love to discredit.

Food for thought: Barry Bonds is listed at 6-2, 228 pounds. Brett Favre is listed at 6-2, 225. I'm sure both totals come in a little light.

Barry Bonds
Maybe it's time to blow up all the Bonds criticism.

Yet, as one columnist wrote a couple week ago, after suggesting the Bonds "story" can no longer be ignored: "It's the drugs, stupid. It's always been the drugs."

More food for thought: You know how many times Bonds has hit 50 home runs in a season? Once. You know how many times he's led his league in home runs? Twice. You know how many writers suggest Bonds is the smartest hitter in the game, that he knows which pitch is coming, that his eyes and patience allow him to wait for exactly the pitch he can drive out of the park, that what makes him superman isn't all the home runs he hits, but the way he does it, despite drawing all those walks, which puts him on base a must-be-a-misprint more than 50 percent of the time? Very few.

But of course, nobody likes Bonds anyway -- writers or opposing pitchers. So bring him down when you can. Say that he's nothing without the drugs, nothing but a cranky, sour SOB, that deep in his soul he's not this good, because nobody can really be this good, nobody can put up these softball numbers in the major freakin' leagues.

Freak? Yes, Bonds is a freak.

Steroids? Maybe. Or maybe it's just a man who regulates his body to optimal performance by staying away from those In-N-Out burgers that Jason Giambi craves so much. We don't know, and surely Turk Wendell doesn't either. Bonds has sculpted himself to his current frame from a lean 185 pounds as a rookie, and thus must be using steroids, as writers and talk-jock hosts love to point out? Means nothing. Look at Henry Aaron. When young, he was built exactly like a young Barry, long and lithe; by the time he was hitting No. 715, he had expanded and added bulk. All I know is that pitchers feared both Henrys.

Asterisks next to all those records? Don't even bother humoring us with that.

Race? Maybe, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

Bigger, stronger, still an ... | From Alan Grant

The hatred for Bonds, this burning, seething bile-laden tempest that envelops your soul when you hear his name, or witness an at-bat ... that isn't about race.

It's about him being an ass----.

If you hate Barry Bonds you aren't a racist, you're just someone who hates ass----s. I hate ass----s too. I hate George W. Bush and his daddy. In fact, I hate all conservatives whose speech and action suggest: "You can be successful in life provided you look like me, dress like me, speak like me, act like me, and have nothing to do with anything too 'different' from me. Actually. I more than hate them. Sometimes I'd like to ... wait, what were we talking about ...?

Oh, yeah. Barry Bonds.

I'm pretty sure he took steroids. And those steroids helped him hit home runs. But I don't think anyone hits 600 home runs without some hand-eye coordination, or at least some trace amounts of intellectual prowess. But maybe that's just me.

I know this whole steroid epidemic has folks in a sportswide panic. They're all wondering: What's real? What accomplishments really count and which ones don't? How ever will we vote for the All-Star Game, or the even more sacred Hall of Fame?

It's hard for me to discuss such things, because I know sports people see things in terms of absolute truths. If an athlete takes steroids, then nothing else about him is real, right? He's not really fast, he's not really strong, and he's not really coordinated. There is no athletic ability involved; it's all due to drugs!

I just don't buy that. I don't think steroids alone made Barry Bonds into a home-run hitter, nor did they make him an ass----. Just a bigger, stronger one.

The baseball epidemic | From Dan Shanoff

There's an exploding epidemic in baseball, and, yes, it's 'roids-related:

"Have you ever used steroids?" has quickly become the sports reporters' version of When did you stop beating your wife?

Player denials are manipulated into misleading "Athlete X denies he ever took steroids" headlines. Thank goodness the majority of fans -- if not sports-writing hysterics -- seem to be immune.

Baseball vs. football | From Jim Caple

230-pound baseball players are on steroids. 260-pound linebackers are just strong.