- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Barry Bonds says he never inhaled.

He says the dog ate his homework and his cat died.

He says he was late because of a 10-car pileup on the interstate and because his alarm clock, the darn thing, did not sound as set.

He says he is not in the mood because of a headache and has a black eye because of a door.

Bonds has descended into the laughable depths of plausible deniability.

He has admitted to using two substances known as “the cream” and “the clear,” while claiming not to know what was what with them.

You know what they used to say at BALCO?

A little dab’ll do ya.

The last refuge of Bonds, of course, hardly passes the smell test, no more than his incredible home-run surge at an advanced age.

Bonds said he thought one of the substances was flaxseed oil, which worked in antithetical proportion to snake oil.

Perhaps he thought “the cream” was a newfangled skin moisturizer of the aloe vera family and that his ever-expanding upper torso and neck evolved from following the tenets of an old Charles Atlas guide.

Perhaps all this BALCO-inspired mess depends on the definition of “is.”

Bonds is part gag line and part bane, as a synthetic-enhanced fabrication who is destined to eclipse Hank Aaron as the game’s all-time home run leader. He will do so with a well-deserved asterisk, symbolic or otherwise. He will do so amid the holding of noses and the wringing of hands.

Baseball revels in its numbers, if not held hostage by them at times.

Baseball is forever threatening to make a statistic out of who bats what under a full moon against left-handed pitchers.

That makes the ascendancy of Bonds even more problematic, assuming baseball does not fashion pre-steroid and post-steroid sections of the record book.

If so, that would restore the legitimacy of Roger Maris, surpassed as he was by the ethically challenged trio of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Bonds.

As it is, you can throw the record book, context and Bonds out the window.

A discussion of Aaron, Ruth and Bonds — one of the pastimes within the erstwhile national pastime — is moot.

Let the record show that Ruth was the anti-Bonds.

His performance-enhancing regime featured alcohol, cigars, fast women and hot dogs in copious amounts. Let’s see Bonds try reaching 700 home runs with that workout plan.

Baseball is now in the company of track and field, which is one step up from Vince McMahon’s freak show. In fact, the word freak applies to all three endeavors. The only oddity missing is the bearded lady, and that is only because the women of track and field are smart enough to shave their faces and wear pancake makeup, if necessary.

At least with track and field, unlike baseball, there is a suspicion that they all cheat.

Baseball geeks, officials and commentators are apt to debate the question of Bonds until they are blue in the face, for there are no satisfying solutions. The damage has been done, and all the principals have profited immensely, starting with Bud Selig and the owners.

It is not just the chicks who dig the long ball, as the game’s rising turnstile count confirms.

The rub before baseball is not everyone was under the “nutritional care” of Victor Conte and Greg Anderson. There are probably an awful lot of pitchers muttering under their breaths this offseason.

Bonds has denied, obfuscated and trotted out his lawyers, while knowing, in his grand jury testimony last December, he played the oops card.

Now his attorney is playing a variation of the oops card, making the unequivocally correct assertion that Bonds is not a chemist and thus somehow free of taint and contempt. His attorney might as well have said, “My client did not mean to back up over the little old lady and then run over her in the parking lot.”

Bonds probably should have gone the performance-enhancing route of Rafael Palmeiro.

Viagra allows Palmeiro to be a hit in the bedroom, too.

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