Major League player Barry Bonds is within a swing or two of passing Babe Ruth as the number two all-time home run slugger in baseball history. There is, however, a taint that stinks up Bonds and his run at Hank Aaron’s number one record and last week in Philadelphia, the fans told him, and the world, they know what he did to be able to challenge Ruth’s record and they refused to play along and shut up about his leading role in the Steroids Era of baseball.

Barry Bonds

There appears to be little doubt Barry Bonds and other baseball players used steroids to enhance their on-field performance. The difference between Bonds and the others is Bonds’ adamant, continued, denial he ever “consciously” took steroids to enhance his performance. In the face of overwhelming evidence against those denials Bonds claims he may have had steroids put into his body but he didn’t know at the time they were steroids. You can see wild changes in Bonds’ body over the years in the image below: On the left he’s playing in 1993; in the center he’s on his way to testify in front of grand jury concerning steroids in baseball in 2004; and on the right you can see him playing in 2006.

Barry Bonds

That sort of incredible increase in size and ferocity is not a natural process. One does not get stronger and more muscled as one ages. That is physiologically impossible unless one has some kind of help to betray the natural progression of one’s body chemistry. There has not yet been any legal action taken against Bonds — and there may never be — but there has already been a tremendous groundswell of protest in the mainstream of ordinary baseball fans against what they perceive as Bonds’ dishonoring the game to cheat history.

Fans have found Bonds morally culpable for his outrageous denials of the reason behind his superhuman feats and that allows many to find him guilty with a moral certainty. Because of Bonds’ unwillingness to face the truth of his life some believe he will be remembered more in the company of O. J. Simpson — another sports superstar who tainted his natural greatness with incomprehensible moral corruption and unfathomable denials — instead of Hank Aaron, the greatest home run hitter in history. It is Bonds’ choice how he is remembered.

Will he do the right thing and confess and seek forgiveness or will he continue to deny and retire to the rumors in shame?

16 Comments

  1. I’m not really a betting man but I would guess he’s going to go for option B. He would probably say as Nixon said, “I am not a crook.”
    Like Nixon, he will probably not be found out unless it is forced out somehow.
    This is like the third thing I’ve seen about Barry Bonds today. The first was an article about how he didn’t want to autograph his latest home run ball. The second was putting him as #1 in the biggest enemies of sports now, and now this.
    He’s probably loving all this attention – don’t they say that all media attention is good, even if it’s somewhat negatively focused?

  2. Here’s an interesting take on the issue of baseball statistics being skewed by steroids from StevenBerlinJohnson.com:

    I’d add one other point to the debate, which has no doubt been said a million times in discussing this issue: the primary reason why records shouldn’t be considered so sacred is that they don’t factor in the obvious increase in overall competitiveness in the sport.
    Barry Bonds might have used steroids to help him hit 13 more home runs than Babe Ruth ever managed in a single season, but Ruth had a huge advantage over Bonds in that the pool of pitching talent he was facing was drawn entirely from white Americans.
    No doubt there was a Pedro Martinez or a Mariano Rivera throwing rocks at 95 MPH in the Dominican Republic or Panama back in the 1920s, but Ruth didn’t have to face them because they had no way to make it into the major leagues back then.
    When Ruth played, there was a potential talent pool of about 10 million people; now, the number is in the hundreds of millions, and the system for discovering and nurturing new talent is vastly more efficient than it was then.

    Johnson argues that baseball has become more competitive and thus, even without steroids, players are better than they were in the past. Writes Johnson, “Even without steroids, I wager Bonds would have hit 73 home runs — if not more — off the pitching of the 1920s.”
    If most major league players had access to performance enhancing substances until the recent crackdown, we can’t complain that there is something unfair about players’ increased abilities to break game records since they all had the opportunity to do so using the means available to all of them. An argument could be made that it isn’t fair to players who didn’t want to risk destroying their bodies to get a listing in baseball’s books of statistics.
    Of course, using steroids is morally wrong because it sends the wrong message to society and especially our children who worship sports stars as role models. We must do what we can to discourage steroid usage.
    We need to make it clear that steroid usage involves very short-term gains at the expense of ones longevity.
    This is the reason why it is important to show a distinction between players who didn’t take substances and those who did.

  3. Hi Gordon!
    Bonds will pass Babe Ruth soon so you’ll be reading a lot about Barry Bonds in the week to come.
    I do think Bonds is considerably worried about his place in history and that’s why he’s playing dumb about it all and insulting the rest of us in the process.
    In the image- shattering new book that came out in March, Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports, you get this kind of information:

    Now, in Game of Shadows, Fainaru-Wada and Williams tell the complete story of BALCO and the investigation that has shaken the foundations of the sporting world. They reveal how an obscure, self-proclaimed nutritionist, Victor Conte, became a steroid svengali to multi-millionaire athletes desperate for a competitive edge, and how he created superstars with his potent cocktails of miracle drugs. They expose the international web of coaches and trainers who funneled athletes to BALCO, and how the drug cheats stayed a step ahead of the testing agencies and the law. They detail how an aggressive IRS investigator doggedly gathered evidence until Conte and his co-conspirators were brought to justice. And at the center of the story is the biggest star of them all, Barry Bonds, the muscle-bound MVP outfielder of the San Francisco Giants whose suspicious late-career renaissance has him threatening Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record.

    I think Bonds will have a hard time living in peace if he passes the Babe. Many people say once he passes The Babe he’ll retire due to “health reasons” and not even try to beat Hank Aaron’s record. People hope he’ll just quietly fade away and go away. I don’t think so. I think he’ll play as long as he can so he can pass Hank and set the new record.

  4. Hi Chris —
    I find the theories of the fellow you quote to be quaint, but not terribly engaging.
    The Babe set those records while those around him didn’t. It is a specious argument to talk about pitchers he didn’t face while discounting those he did.
    Bonds will also have 700 more at-bats than Ruth (while Hank Aaron had 4,000 more than Ruth). Ruth started his career as a pitcher. When it comes to comparing who is the greatest baseball player you can’t even put them in the same league. The Babe crushes Bonds.
    Today, the game is focused on Home Runs. The more the better. The ball is more lively. Bats are lighter. The gameplay is skewed to the big hit instead of the outstanding catch. MLB wants lots of runs not 1-0 games.
    Here’s an interesting site on bat weight:
    http://www.kettering.edu/~drussell/bats-new/batw8.html

    Past players tend to have used heavier bats than do today’s players. Baseball’s “king of swat” Babe Ruth reportedly began his hitting career using a 54 ounce (1.5 kg) hickory bat, and is known to have used a 40oz bat in 1927 when he hit his 60 home runs.[1] Ty Cobb and Joe Di Maggio both played with 42oz bats and Rogers Hornsby used a 50oz piece of lumber. George Sisler, playing for the St. Louis Browns in the 1920’s, made his bat heavier by hammering Victrola needles into the barrel of his bat.[2] In the 1950’s Cincinnati Reds’ Ted Kluszeski hammered tenpenny nails into his bat to make it heavier.
    Other great hitters including Ted Williams, Rod Carew and Stan Musial used much lighter bats: 31-33oz.[1] Roger Maris used a 33oz bat to hit his 61 home runs in 1961. Many players have tried to make their bats lighter by drilling a hole in the barrel and filling it with cork. Detroit Tigers’ Norm Cash admitted to using a corked bat in 1961 when he won the batting title with a .361 average (though he slumped to .243 the next year with the same corked bat).[2]
    Mark McGwire used a 35oz bat to hit his 70 home runs in 1998, and Barry Bonds used a 32oz bat to hit his 73 home runs in 2001. Most of today’s major league players typically use 31-35oz bats.

    Here’s what George Vecsey said in the Times on May 2, 2006:

    HERE’S a modest proposal for Barry Bonds’s next career move: Affix a toe plate to his shoe and try pitching.
    That’s right. It’s one thing to pass Babe Ruth in home runs, but Bonds might like to emulate the Babe’s pitching record — 94 victories, 46 losses, earned run average of 2.28. Even at this late date, the Babe’s pitching numbers still boggle my mind.
    I know, I know, Bonds’ body is wearing down as he approaches his 42nd birthday on July 24, and Ruth did almost all his pitching between 18 and 24. But that’s my point: before Ruth became the most important player in baseball history, he was already a great pitcher, who might have matched the longevity records of Cy Young, Warren Spahn and Nolan Ryan. We will never know.

    http://select.nytimes.com/2006/05/02/sports/baseball/02vecsey.html

  5. Barry Bonds has tried to push attention of what he did and blame the attention on him on his race. He feels it is because he is black that he is not being honored as Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire were in their day. It was Bonds’ jealous competition with McGwire that some people think led him to jack up his steriod use. It’s sad to see a giant fall.

  6. Hey Karvain —
    I, too, have heard it suggested that Bonds’ sticky situation is caused only because of his skin color and that to be against him is the same as being a racist. It is unfortunate the discussion of his accomplishments has to travel down to that level.

  7. Like it or not Bonds is a role model. He may not be a good one or one worthy of modeling but he is one just because of what he does for a living and so many kids get to see him play. He has a responsibility to live up to his actions and to play and live with honor. I hope he after he passes Ruth that he will be man enough to tell us what he knows about steroids in baseball.

  8. It’s a hard thing to have others look up to you — especially when you look down on yourself — but sometimes good things come out of bad and everything will get set right by Bonds in the end. Then he’d truly make history worth noting.

  9. I hope he just goes away.
    I do not think Major League Baseball — or its pitchers — will allow Bonds to pass Hank Aaron because they cannot replace a hero with a fraud.
    Bonds will be indicted or he’ll be hit in the head with a baseball — something, anything — will happen to him on the field that will force him out of the game forever if he doesn’t willingly do the right thing and go away on his own.

  10. People do alot of crazy things to make themselves better as they age. There is a great fear for human beings to lose their youth. Plastic surgury is a good example and there are many others. When it is all said and done, one has to look at oneself in the mirror and realize that God is the one who gives us our youth and it will be served if it is God’s will. For those of us lucky to realize that aging is a natural process and that we will eventually get old, those people can age and get old with grace, realizing that it’s a natural part of life. For those not that lucky, they will pay to hold on to their youth via plastic surgury or in Bond’s case, steroid use (if he used them) to hold on to his youth or (career). Bond’s will have to look at himself in the mirror and if he used steroids to help him with this record, he will have to answer to his own soul. If he did use steriods, than his record is tanted. For the sake of his soul, if he did use them than he should get up and say that he did to the world. I can’t respect him untill he does.