- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

The personal trainer of Barry Bonds has admitted to being a slime ball who lurked in the shadows of baseball.

Greg Anderson concedes he was the candy man to a number of baseball players, the names unknown at this point, after first trying to lie his way out of the federal investigation.

You are permitted to connect the dots however you see fit between the dirty trainer and the biggest star in baseball.

Hmm.

Bonds, in his old baseball age, has come to have the muscle-bound body of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and a logic-defying bead on Hank Aaron.

The unexceptionally built player who was with the Pirates early in his career hardly resembles the behemoth who bashes home runs at a startling rate with the Giants.

The before and after photos have been placed in the file of suspicions trailing Bonds’ best work.

Bonds was a gifted player, the son of Bobby, long before he reinvented himself and tested America’s reasoning power with a record-breaking 73 home runs in 2001.

He made it look easy, too easy, in fact. He might have hit 90 homers in 2001 if pitchers had not come to accept that a walk was preferable to a potential base-clearing swing.

His assault was cloaked in statistical implausibility, just as it was with Mark McGwire, another thick-necked basher who was found wanting around the smell test.

McGwire, along with Sammy Sosa, eclipsed a mark that Roger Maris held for 37 seasons. The record was not merely broken. It was obliterated.

Baseball wanted to believe in the sin-washing undertaking, as did America, even if it seemed almost too good to be true.

Baseball needed the home-run drama of McGwire and Sosa in 1998 after squandering a century’s worth of goodwill with an endemic case of avarice. The game embraced this soothing reprieve, with the stipulation that no one look too hard in the carry-on luggage of the principals.

The case against Anderson could turn in a number of directions, none of them good for Bonds.

The damage to Bonds already is considerable. It could get worse. The best he can do is stick to his pill-popping contention of ignorance and deny, deny, deny.

Bonds, so the story goes, placed his trust in his personal trainer. The trainer was a good guy. They were buddies. How was Bonds supposed to know the contents of each and every item he put into his body? He is not a nutritional expert. He is a ballplayer.

That claim just might satisfy the game’s truest believers, depending on the quality of Anderson’s singing ability before John Ashcroft’s investigators.

Bud Selig and the game’s barons certainly do not want to know what is what.

They have a number of conflicting interests, the financial health of the game being one. In a way, they are presiding over a professional wrestling-like enterprise, only with no truth in advertising.

If they had their way, this whole process would go away, and everyone could get down to the serious business of hating the Yankees and monitoring the curse of the Red Sox and Cubs.

However it goes down, the whole thing reeks, from Bonds, McGwire and Sosa to the general acceptance that the game has been tainted by the feel-good black marketers on the periphery.

You are entitled to believe what you want, because it is doubtful we’ll ever know the full scope of wrongdoing.

Understandably, the high-profile players generate the most discussion. But how about the 20-homer guy who suddenly goes into the “weight room” one winter and becomes a 35-homer guy?

He is flying beneath the national radar screen, stealth-like, but he, too, is out there, in sufficient quantity, as several ex-players have pointed out in recent years.

To look at it another way, the collapse of the Berlin Wall eventually revealed the depth of East Germany’s corrupt sports system that ruined the lives of the unknowing.

Going back to the Seoul Games in 1988, all too many of East Germany’s female swimmers came with a gender-bending feel about them. Their athletic excellence, coupled with their incongruent look, just did not feel right.

This is where an element of baseball is now.

None of its home-run premise in recent seasons feels right.

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