(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
If I were Bud Selig, the first thing I would do before resigning as Commissioner of MLB would be to ban Barry Bonds for life. What better way to save baseball than getting rid of its two biggest cancers?
Selig wouldn’t even have to give a reason. If he were a real commish (like the NBA’s David Stern) he would do it behind the scenes, Michael Corleone style. Bonds could be encouraged to quit rehabbing his knees and just quietly retire or wake up with Bobby Bonilla’s disembodied head under his covers.
Selig’s delayed response to the steroid problem last year went a long way in restoring the game’s image. But if Bonds came back this season, the steroid specter would loom over the game like a bad chicken salad sandwich on a hot summer day.
For one, you can’t look at the man without thinking about the juice. For two, when his game shows the inevitable slide post human growth hormone, all anyone will talk about is how steroids helped his swing.
Bonds has already started laying the groundwork for the excuses he will need once his homerun totals become pedestrian.
He said on Monday that baseball isn’t fun anymore and his knees are shot. That’s understandable since he has bled the joy from the game by wearing a constant sour puss and dissing fans at every opportunity.
And knees tend to give out when they carry more weight than they were originally designed for. Extra mass tends to be a little heavier on brittle bones decayed by foreign substances being injected into the body.
He also said that no one has ever really gotten to know him. He’s right. If he would just drop the defensive posturing every time he’s asked a question, or opened himself up more on camera, people would be tricked into thinking he’s not a jerk.
As it is, fans just think of him as a ‘roid abusing liar. Especially when he said on Monday that he’s clean and always has been. Doesn’t that directly contradict when he admitted during the Balco trial that he “unknowingly” used the cream and the clear? If he’s clean, then he’s been blessed with the body of a Kryptonian.
Most men tend to only get wider in the gut as they grow older. Barry-El’s entire musculature got bigger, as did his skull.
If brain size matters, Steven Hawking must be calling Bonds with questions on nuclear physics.
He’s issuing these caveats because age hasn’t wrecked his career, the new steroid policy has.
Any fan that follows the game knows that Bonds wants the home run record. The only way he won’t play is if he thinks he can’t do it. And if he isn’t juicing (and never has) why wouldn’t he be able to?
How did this mysterious knee injury happen in the first place? I don’t recall him injuring it in a game.
The game doesn’t need him anymore. Maybe there was a time when Bonds was welcome into parks and homes across the country that made him rich and famous. But that time is gone.
Baseball is turning a corner and is poised to become the game it once was. Having Bonds around in any capacity would be detrimental.