Monday, August 21, 2006 Updated: August 24, 1:11 PM ET
Barry, it's time to tell the truth
By Jeff Pearlman Special to Page 2
I've had it.
I've finally had it.
For the past four months, my life has been all Barry Bonds, all the time. That's what happens when you publish a biography, as I did, about one of America's most fascinating figures. You talk and talk and talk and talk and talk some more, finding every two-watt radio station and middle-of-nowhere book shop and six-hits-per-week baseball blog to pitch your wares. You answer questions upon questions, hoping praying someone will be intrigued enough to fork over $25.95 ($33.50 in Canada!) for your words.
In promoting "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds and the Making of an Antihero," I've done my best to paint the portrait of a conflicted, misunderstood character; of a man who isn't always what he seems and who -- beneath the layers of hostility -- possesses a decent dose of humility. Was I lying in such efforts? Not at all. I honestly believed that, despite the hundreds of former teammates and friends who relayed stories of Bonds' monstrous disposition, there was some good.
Barry, a nation turns it eyes away from a lonely you.
Again, no more.
Barry Bonds is an evil man. A truly evil man. As a husband, he has cheated on both his wives. As a father, he has been absent and indifferent. As a role model, he has spit at autograph seekers and directed kids to "f--- off." As a Giant, he has held a franchise hostage and refused to help teammates in need. As a blatant abuser of steroids and human growth hormone, he has deprived the game of integrity and turned its record books into mush. For all of those transgressions (and the 1,241,971 others I'm leaving out), Bonds deserves to reincarnate as Buddy Biancalana. In drag.
Amazingly, things have become significantly worse. Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, the two San Francisco Chronicle reporters responsible for "Game of Shadows," are doomed to go to jail if they refuse to spill the beans on the source of Bonds' leaked grand jury testimony. In other words, they will be locked up for presenting the world with the truth about baseball's biggest fraud; about a man willing to pass Willie Mays and Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron by any (illegal) means necessary. Perhaps the two
scribes will share a cell with Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer, who -- as a reward for being the slugger's longtime friend -- had also served time for refusing to speak, and is facing more.
I am not writing this column to sell books. I'm writing it to tell Barry Bonds -- to beg Barry Bonds -- to finally do something selfless and righteous:
Heck, your reputation is already dead; your Hall of Fame candidacy as listless as a Hall & Oates chat room. Why not at least preserve some dignity by stepping up and doing your best to keep three men -- one who has dedicated his life to you, two others who have dedicated their lives to bringing you down -- out of prison? Hold a press conference tomorrow. No, today. Tell the world that, yes, you cheated and yes, you set records that rightfully belong to others. "I have been a horrible ambassador for baseball," you'll say, "but that's about to change. I'm planning to dedicate the rest of my life to keeping kids off of drugs. Beginning in 1999, I used performance enhancers to sustain my career. During that time, my forehead grew, my testicles shrunk and I was angrier than a ferret on spin cycle. Don't do it -- never, ever, ever. It's wrong, and I was a fool.
"Furthermore, I would like to urge the government to release Greg and leave Lance and Mark alone. I was the one who cheated and lied, and I'm the one who deserves to be punished. A free press is vital to democracy. Don't blame the messengers -- blame me." (Cue: tears)
Will this get the two scribes out of doing time? Maybe, maybe not -- it depends on the thoughts and interpretations of a grand jury. But it sure wouldn't hurt.
Having interviewed 524 subjects on Bonds, I am convinced beyond a doubt that this press conference will take place as soon as Smurfs rule the world and George Allen is named NAACP Man of the Year. Until then, I beg you, the American sports fan, to fight against the grave mistreatment of two Pulitzer-worthy reporters who committed the awful crime of doing their jobs.
Confession: When "Game of Shadows" first hit the bookstores, I was, uh, not happy. It was released three weeks before "Love Me, Hate Me," and soared to the top of the New York Times' Best Sellers list. Fainaru-Wada and Williams were my rivals, and they presented me an old-school thumping.
When push comes to shove, however, we are brothers of journalism and survivors of the warped world of Barry. Mark, Lance and I have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours researching, clip-digging, transcribing, hearing the stories, shaking our heads, wondering, "Is he really that bad? Can anyone really be that bad?"
Bonds is a terrible person, but one with a golden opportunity.
Step up, Barry. Be a man. Take responsibility. Set things straight.
No, this truth might not set you free.
But it will surely liberate three others.
Jeff Pearlman is a former Sports Illustrated baseball writer and the author of "Love Me, Hate Me: Barry Bonds & the Making of an Antihero."