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Barry Bonds Throws Out Giants First Pitch, Looks Like Normal Human Being Again

Much like Rangers legend Nolan Ryan who was asked to throw out the first pitch in the ALDS for Texas, Giants legend Barry Bonds was invited to throw out the first pitch prior to Game 3 of the NLCS in San Francisco Tuesday. Bonds was in excellent spirits and received a nice welcome from his home crowd. What stood out immediately was how much different Barry looks. He’s no longer all roided up on horse pills and cow hormones and he actually looks normal. More accurately, as LBS contributor Alan Hull put it, he looked deflated (and we’re not talking about emotionally). Check out the pictures of Barry Bonds now and back when he was juiced up for comparison:

Looks a lot different now, doesn’t he? Any wonder how he bashed 73 home runs? The prosecution rests, your honor.

Photo Credit: Photo/Jeff Chiu, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Are Bonds’ 73 as Safe as DiMaggio’s 56?

You don’t need a jury, a judge, or an LBS writer to tell you that Barry Bonds’ single-season home run record of 73 is a product of steroids.  Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the other poster boys of Major League Baseball’s steroid era shattered records that we all know they wouldn’t have touched if they weren’t juicing.  Many believe that the steroid era is behind us.  After looking at the numbers and considering the amount of no-hitters that have been thrown already this year, I must say I’m starting to become a believer as well.

When the topic of untouchable baseball records arises, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is always the first one that comes to mind.  That’s completely understandable and I’m a firm believer that no player will ever surpass Joltin’ Joe’s record, but I think it’s about time we started including 73 home runs in that discussion.

Since Bonds’ record-breaking year in 2001, no American or National League player has eclipsed the 60 home run mark.  Ryan Howard came closest when he belted 58 in 2006, but that’s still a whopping 15 homers shy of Bonds’ record.  I think people underestimate how far off the record that actually is.  The last two seasons — when the perception has been that Major League Baseball is really cracking down on the use of performance-enhancing substances — home run totals have been way down.  In 2008, Ryan Howard led the NL with 47 long balls while Miguel Cabrera led the AL with only 37.  In 2009, Albert Pujols led the NL with 47 while Mark Teixeira and Carlos Pena tied for the AL lead with 39.

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Recorded Conversation Shows Anderson Injected Barry Bonds with Steroids

Anyone who read Game of Shadows and paid attention to various court documents that have come to light recently knows that Barry Bonds has admitted to taking steroids. It’s common knowledge that Bonds took the cream and the clear provided by BALCO — both were steroids. So the issue isn’t whether he took steroids, it’s whether or not he “knowingly” took the steroids, which if he did, would result in a perjury charge. We also know that the federal government is pursuing this case and that they have a ridiculously high success rate when they pursue such cases (over 90%). With some court documents being released, now we know why they’re chasing the case; one transcript of a conversation shows that Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson injected Barry with steroids. Here’s the evidence in the form of a conversation between Anderson and Bonds’ assistant, Steve Hoskins, who recorded the exchange when they were talking about cysts developing from steroid injection:

Anderson: No, what happens is, they put too much in one area, and what it does, it ‘ill, it ‘ill actually ball up and puddle. And what happens is, it actually will eat away and make an indentation. And it’s a cyst. It makes a big (expletive) cyst. And you have to drain it. Oh yeah, it’s gnarly …

Hoskins: He said his (expletive) went … that’s why he has to, he had to switch off of one cheek to the other. Is that why Barry’s didn’t do it in one spot, and you didn’t just let him do it one time?

Anderson: Oh no. I never. I never just go there. I move it all over the place.

In another part of the conversation, Anderson explains how easy it is to pass one of MLB’s administered drug tests by ostensibly using the cream and the clear (the same stuff Marion Jones used is the quote they gave). So after reading this, is there any wonder why Anderson’s in jail? Any wonder why he was refusing to speak? Any wonder why the feds are pursuing the perjury case? Any wonder if Bonds will be found innocent? You telling me he was getting injections and didn’t know it was for steroids? Uh yeah, I’m buying that like I’m buying some stock in Circuit City. Please.

Who Gets into the Hall First, Jeff Kent or Barry Bonds?

Once teammates in San Francisco from ’97-’02, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds will be forever linked. The two formed a powerful duo in the heart of the Giants order for several years, leading San Francisco into the World Series in ’02 where they got served by the Angels. Both have strong personalities and were known to fight while in San Francisco despite winning many accolades. Bonds finished second in MVP balloting to Kent in 2000 — Kent’s only MVP season — while Bonds went on to win the next four. Each player enjoyed remarkable success offensively throughout his career. Bonds’ aided statistics may only be second to one in the history of the game, Babe Ruth. Kent’s offensive statistics as a second baseman are second to none when it comes to power. Both players were standouts during their time and changed the game. But both were also undoubtedly dicks.

So that begs the question: with Bonds not playing last season and Kent set to retire, who will get into Cooperstown first? It takes five years for retired players to be eligible for the Hall. Bonds will be eligible first but the ominous steroids questions will loom and enough voters might be deterred from electing him. Heck, if they couldn’t all vote for Rickey, Cal, or Tony, how are they going to all vote for Bonds? Then the question becomes whether or not Bonds gets elected in his second year, and whether or not Kent’s poor attitude toward the press will keep him from being elected in his first year. Kent’s going to get there because he doesn’t have any steroids questions surrounding him. But will he make it on the first ballot? It will be close. So the three outcomes are: Bonds gets there first, they get elected in the same year, or Kent gets elected first. I’m going with Kent first. Who you got?

Barry Bonds Sees Himself as a College Baseball Coach

Barry Bonds was in the house at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday night for a celebration of the Giants 50th anniversary in the city. After receiving a warm reception from the fans and making a brief speech on the field before the game, Bonds ventured up to the Comcast Bay Area television booth where he joined Kruk and Kuip for a half inning. Bonds was asked several questions, and said he still misses the game. One thing he was asked was whether or not he’d eventually try to become a manager. Bonds’ response:

I think the best position for me would probably be in a college — that’s how I feel. I’d rather teach kids what they want to do and what to do to get to the major leagues. I see myself doing something like that moreso than doing something in the major leagues if that time comes for me to make that decision.

Bonds also added that coaching at UCLA seemed ideal because of its proximity to his current home, but was torn because he’s not keen on helping a team that competes against Arizona State — his alma mater. I think it’s pretty curious that Bonds made this comment. Obviously Barry still wants to be around the game and wants to help young players get better, but I have to wonder if he said he’d prefer to coach college baseball because he feels blackballed and unwanted by MLB, or because he truly would prefer to work with college kids. I think there could be some underlying reasons there. Either way, sending my kid to go play for Barry Bonds probably wouldn’t be the first choice on my list. And what prominent school would hire the guy anyway? Well, I guess there is a place for everyone.

Asterisked 756th Ball Heading to the Hall

Alternate title: 756th ball to make it to Hall before Bonds (ever does …). Perhaps it’s fitting that it’s worked out this way, given the fact that, you know, Barry Bonds juiced to get the record. Bonds is right to say that Marc Ecko is an idiot — I’m not sure what other sane person would come up with the idea to try and brand a ball with an asterisk, much less pay $752,467 for it. Now Gilbert Arenas on the other hand, who wanted to buy the ball back from Ecko, would have been an even bigger idiot for spending serious bucks to rescue the ball. Anyway, after going back and forth with the Hall, Ecko has agreed to give the ball to Cooperstown for good, asterisk and all.

I’m not one for defacing baseball history, but like I’ve said, the asterisk on the ball is a perfect reflection of the mockery Barry made of the record. You don’t just go from being a 30 and 40 home run hitter to belting 60 and 70 like nothing, even if you have matured and developed as a hitter. Whatever. I think it’s pretty comical too that the Hall is accepting the ball in whatever condition they get it. About the only thing that would make this entire scenario perfect, would be for Bonds to be picked up by some team this year for a few games and be dropped at the end of the season. Then, both Bonds and Kent would retire from the game, and five years from now, Jeff Kent would get into the Hall while Bonds would be left out. As my buddy Casey suggested, that would be the ultimate, enjoyable irony.

MLB.tv Ignoring Bonds, Sosa in Ads

I haven’t watched MLBTV since college. Man, those were the days. There were like a half dozen hardcore baseball fans on my dorm floor all playing fantasy baseball so we used to try and catch the at-bats by our players in between classes and studying. Best part was we all shared the same login info and password, and it came from some guy I had never even met whose email address was like @ wisconsin.edu. Gotta love that. One kid registers for the pass and half the dorms at a school 1500 miles away are using it. Anyway, back when I was watching, MLB.tv used to show the commercials as seen on the local telecast. Now I think they go with some generic, MLB.tv produced commercials. You would think I would know these things since I wrote for them last season, but I have no clue. Anyway, Deadspin points out to me that MLB is ignoring Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa in a commercial that promotes Ken Griffey Jr.’s pursuit of 600 home runs. Here’s how the screen apparently looks:

“Willie Mays, September 22, 1969…600.
Babe Ruth, August 21, 1931…600.
Hank Aaron, April 27, 1971…600.”

Then the screen flips to Griffey, who sits at 599, and he says, “Ken Griffey Jr…. keep watching.”

Obviously there are two other players who belong in that group — Bonds and Sosa. I’ve already shared my thoughts on Sosa — that he’s a complete fraud, and I choose not to acknowledge Bonds’ triumphs. So while I’m not buying the legitimacy of either of their records, I don’t feel MLB media should be practicing “revisionist history.” It’s not their place to be doing that, regardless of how their employees feel.