ESPN senior national columnist Gene Wojciechowski thinks Barry Bond’s career is as good as over and his reputation permanently trashed.
In the end, there is only one question that needs to be asked:
Do you believe Barry Bonds, or the book?
If you believe Bonds, then you believe the third-leading home run hitter in the history of Major League Baseball is the victim of an unrelenting federal and media conspiracy designed to frame him for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
If you believe the excerpts of “Game of Shadows,” then you believe that
Bonds and his mind-boggling, bloated numbers of 1998-2004 (he missed most of last season with an injury) are a fraud.
I believe the book. I think Bonds is — or was — a human Walgreens, a grotesque and insulting example of better baseball through chemistry. And I think he should slither away, joining Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro in forced baseball exile.
Bonds is finished. He might play again, but there is only a chalk outline left around his integrity and home run totals. And the only way he gets into Cooperstown is if he spends the $14.50 for a Hall of Fame admission ticket.
There’s a possibility that Wojciechowski is right. I doubt it, however.
The problem is that this whole era is similarly tainted. We’re pretty sure Bonds used the juice but so did many other players without his stats. How do we know which ones are “frauds” and which are legit?
Further, how much of Bonds’ performance can be attributed to the clear and the cream? He was a three-time league MVP back when he was skinny. And, of course, his recent rash of injuries might be steroids related, helping even out the advantage. He missed almost an entire season, after all.
Like it or not, we’re likely going to have to live with Bonds surpassing Babe Ruth and going to Cooperstown. His health will likely keep him from getting to Hank Aaron.
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