- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

Barry Bonds was up to his swollen neck in steroid use, as an excerpt from “Game of Shadows” reveals in riveting detail in Sports Illustrated.

Bonds was a walking laboratory of performance-enhancing drugs, according to the two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who have confirmed what has been an open secret for years.

The depth of their reporting is so persuasive that Bonds would be wise not to try to spin it with the race card, the martyr card, the victim card or any other card that is deployed to silence the questioner. He would be wise not to address it beyond what he already has said, which is he has no desire to read the book.

“For what?” he said.

And so we have the beginnings of the final word on Bonds. He made a mockery of the game. He lied. He cheated. And that will be in large measure his legacy.

He will come to be the face of baseball’s synthetic age, when the game’s lords ignored the home runs of Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa because of their restorative and financially beneficial effect.

Commissioner Bud Selig says he plans to read the book before making any pointed comments or decisions.

You go right ahead and read the tome, Commissioner. Your tacit approval is all over this scandal. Baseball was hurting until the home run chase of McGwire and Sosa. And it behooved you and the owners to go along with the sham in 1998.

And it was the sham aspect that played on the mind of Bonds, say the authors. His competitive spirit could not accept the acclaim being lavished on McGwire and Sosa, not when he knew an insider’s truth. He was a far more accomplished player than them. And yet, in the McGwire-Sosa summer, Bonds felt diminished by them, an afterthought.

You would think he would have liked being out of the spotlight, given his long history of trouble with the media hounds. But that is often the conundrum of the famous and gifted. They covet the adulation that they cannot accommodate, that they ultimately find intrusive and destructive.

And so it was with Bonds. He took up with Greg Anderson and a black bag and remade his physique at an advanced age. He did the impossible. He defeated Father Time. And he eclipsed McGwire’s single-season home run mark, giving the lie to his charge in 1998, when he said “they” never would allow Sosa, a black Dominican, to hit more home runs than McGwire, a white American.

By the time Bonds toppled McGwire’s record in 2001, “they” apparently were much more racially enlightened.

Alas, that is the nature of Bonds, who lives in a delusional world of massive conspiracies and infinite personal slights, without realizing that sometimes you get back what you dish out.

And Bonds always has dished out a heavy dose of surliness, only to be rankled if that surliness found its way into newspapers and onto television.

It also escapes Bonds that Americans want to see a sense of joy from athletes who traffic in an appealing kind of escapism.

That just isn’t in Bonds. That is just not him.

And he will fight this book for as long as necessary, the same as Pete Rose fought the findings of the Dowd Report before conceding the obvious in the hope he would secure a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Bonds will hunker down in his me-against-the-world bunker and not realize that most Americans are too busy with the demands of their lives to be overly concerned with his.

This one is on him, not on anyone else, not on all the one-time enablers in his midst who jumped on his command.

Bonds cursed himself the day he elected to go on the juice.

Bonds is contemptible, is what he is, and his place in the game will be forever tarnished.

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