In case you haven't been watching sports news, or news in general, over the past few days, here's a quick recap of the recent steroid revelations:
- Jose Canseco: admitted steroid user, MVP
Ken Caminiti: admitted steroid user, MVP
Jason Giambi: admitted steroid user, MVP
Gary Sheffield: unknowing steroid user, so he says, MVP runner-up, batting champion
Barry Bonds: unknowing steroid user, so he says, 7-time MVP
And they will all have a valid point. Perhaps instead of pleading the fifth, a new colloquial phrase of 'pleading the Barry' will creep into the national lexicon. Better still, when people ask if you can keep a secret, a commonly wry response may become, "A Barry Bonds secret, or a secret?" Or after hearing some private information, we can respond with sarcasm, "I'll keep it Barry secret," just to add a playful hint of the mischief to a promise.
It's tough that the legal system has to take it on the chin for this. However, we all knew that the legal system had its flaws, just as we all knew that Bonds was taking some kind of illegal substance to enhance his performance.
No one can deny that Barry Bonds has hall-of-fame caliber statistics over his career. But, never in his prime years of his 20's did he come close to the achievements of the past few in his late 30's and 40's. He has seemingly thwarted the effects of time, and speculation naturally followed as to how he was able to do this. If he had merely kept hitting the ball as he had for the first 15 years of his career, there wouldn't be as much question as to his methods. But his power and hitting over the last few years has been nigh unbelievable. Especially for a guy who is now in his 40's. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post lays it down more succinctly:
- The jaw-dropping irony of Bonds is not that he used steroids to improve himself or slow athletic aging, but that the particular cocktail Anderson handed him actually worked too well. While other cheaters merely prospered, he rose to the skies like a god. He became so great so suddenly and stayed so young so long that his lie became larger and easier to read than the 25 on his back.
- I don't cover much baseball anymore, but I have had a couple of extended social interactions with Bonds. I've spent enough time with him over the last couple of years to know that he's too narcissistic, too smart, too hands-on and too curious to put something into his body without knowing what it is. His body is his temple. Bonds can tell you how many grams of fat are in a 10-ounce filet mignon and how many teaspoons of sugar are in one 16-ounce serving of Coca-Cola, so while he might have thought "the cream" was some kind of miracle salve to help fight arthritis, I'm struggling to believe he wouldn't know every single thing about "the clear" before he put it into his mouth. The only way Bonds didn't know is that he didn't want to know, that he wanted some kind of plausible deniability if it was found out he took the stuff. The notion that he flat-out didn't know what he was doing just strains credulity.
So, where does that leave us? Well, I think that Maris' record of 61 in '61 still stands as the modern-day mark to beat, and Ruth's 60 in '27 as the 152 game mark. That only two people in the history of baseball achieved 60 home runs (Hank Aaron never did it) in 80 years and then three players crushed the record in the last 8 should have been indication enough that the wax in these players was soaring them inhumanly high.
Of course, my twisted brain functioning as it always has, immediately thought of an appropriate comedy sketch to encapsulate the controversy. If Saturday Night Live or South Park doesn't do something with a certain film, I'll be sorely disappointed. My own brief interpretation:
- INTERIOR: BASEMENT - WELL
Barry Bonds sits in the pit of a stone well, reading his player statistics. Subtitles read, "2001". A bottle on a string appears above him, dangling in front of him.
Barry: What's this?
Voice: (offscreen) It rubs the lotion on its skin.
Above Barry, holding the string, is his buddy, Greg Anderson.
Barry: What's in it?
Greg: It rubs the lotion on its skin.
Greg: It rubs the lotion on its skin, or it doesn't get more 'dingers'.
Barry pauses, thinking
Barry: So it helps with arthritis?
Barry: (applying liberally to his body) Great!!!