This story in the Miami Herald about Barry Bonds reminded me again how complicated and massively frustrating the steroids era has been on baseball fans like me and my son. I LOVED watching Bonds hit in those early years of this decade, when he was by far the best hitter in the game and was doing things that nobody had ever come close to doing before. Basically, if they pitched to him, he was likely to knock it out of the park. His swing was short and fast, his power amazing. When he hit the homer to break Aaron’s record and a reporter asked him if his totals were “tainted,” Bonds looked shocked and defiant when he said, “This record is not tainted at all. Period.”
I wanted to believe him. But now the best I can believe is that maybe Bonds really didn’t know that his body had bulked up so much, his head expanded, his chest thickened, from stuff his trainers gave him. And HE DIDN’T KNOW (he claims) that it was steroids. How this could be true is just awfully difficult to fathom, and that he got that big just from rubbing steroids cream on his legs defies credulity.
The bottom line for me is that Bonds has never come out and told my kid that taking drugs is wrong, whether he knew he was taking them or not, and playing ethically and within the rules is more important than bashing a lot of homers.
But boy, what a ballplayer he was. We may not see a swing like that again for the rest of our lives.