Prepare yourself, Barry: Tougher questions await

It's clear now that there are so many things Barry Bonds doesn't get, it's hard to know where to start.

Updated: February 23, 2005, 2:09 PM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

We thought he couldn't get any stranger. We thought he couldn't get any more arrogant. We thought he couldn't possibly get any tougher to love, or even like.

But Barry Bonds keeps finding ways to go where even he hasn't gone before. On the field. Off the field. He's full of surprises, that Barry.

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It took a special Bonds performance up there on the podium Tuesday to make Jason Giambi look like a sympathetic figure. But Barry pulled it off.

At least Giambi says he's sorry, signs some autographs, acts like a member of the species most of us can relate to -- even if we're not supposed to be sure what the heck he's sorry about.

But the only thing Bonds seemed sorry about Tuesday was that he forgot to turn his cell phone off during his own press conference. OK, make that two things. He also seemed sorry he couldn't quote any good lines from "Sanford and Son."

Actually, if there was one moment of true, inspired clarity in this press conference, it was that "Sanford and Son" quip. We've heard a few scouts say that Barry has been moving like Fred Sanford in the outfield these last few years. So maybe there's a different reason for that than they'd suspected.

But the rest of that mumbo jumbo he fired out there? Mere media members shouldn't be allowed to analyze all that. We need to get the American Psychiatric Association working on this case ASAP.

Oh, part of it we kind of understood. It was just Barry being Barry, doing what he's done 703 million times before: Turning on his West Coast Offense before his questioners could get his defense stuck on the field.

Somewhere in there, we think he was trying to make a point about how alcohol and tobacco are the real scandals in this country, because they're documented "killers" -- so how come we have to waste everyone's time with this steroid garbage.

But before he got that message out in a manner that might actually have been comprehensible, the flames of anger engulfed his point. And the next thing we knew, he was either suggesting we look into whether Ulysses S. Grant took steroids back in the 19th Century, or auditioning for a job as program director at Nick at Nite. We're still not sure.

It's clear now that there are so many things he doesn't get, it's hard to know where to start. But we'll stick to this:

Nobody wants to hate this guy. Not the fans. Not the people asking those questions Tuesday. Not the men he plays against. Not even Jose Canseco.

Barry Bonds is the greatest player most of us have ever seen. It's human nature to want to love and admire people like that.

But he's the one who makes that just about impossible, not the people who put him through "all this rerun stuff." Yeah, he should have smiled more in his career -- but not for us. For him.

It's painful to see anyone that great who is that angry -- especially when he has spent all these years trying to make sure we knew he didn't care what the world thought of him.

Well, if he didn't like these questions, just wait. Those BALCO prosecutors have some questions waiting for him, too. In an open courtroom. Where he can't control the setting, can't filter the topics and can't wriggle out of the answers by complaining about how tired he is of the subject.

If he answers those questions the way he answered these questions, what happens next will make those 53,000 boos he hears in Dodger Stadium seem like a bigger lovefest than the Oscars.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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