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Barry Bonds...Fair of Foul?


Braves fan

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Foul. Although there were no steroid bans in place during his peak years of production, I saw last week's episode with Bob Costas on HBO as he read down his numbers from the time he and Mark McGwire were cranking them out. It was astonishing.

His slugging % went from like .350 to over .800, .750, etc.. all in the upper 7's and 8's in his LATE 30's! His home run production went from around 30 plus per year to the 60's and 70's, just ridiculous. It's hard to accept this record as being 'valid' as sports has once again turned a blind eye from an obvious fact that he was using and won't admit it. And why are all his suppliers/trainers doing time in prison, some even have served and gotten out and he has still yet to be questioned in a court of law? Sadly, baseball is just going to let this thing pass without any investigation and just let it go away and we'll all probably have to settle on the explanation of Bonds saying he thought he was taking flaxseed oil... yeah right..

But then again, Gaylord Perry is in the HOF with over 300 career victories and everyone knew he loaded up the baseball.

Unfortunately, with the NBA's scandal going on now, I have almost completely lost faith in pro sports as an honest, fairly contested business where athletes are extremely overpaid and the fans are the ones who will get screwed in the end. We pay for their greed, we pay for our loyalty to the game, and we ultimately pay for the corruption. Yet, we will still go out and support our teams with the notion and belief that it is a fair system where all teams are equal.

Also in the Costas piece was the fact that the home run chase between McGwire and Sosa was aided by Latino pitchers serving up gopher balls to Sosa so he was right behind McGwire in the race, keeping it exciting. Pretty alarming but highly believeable.

Paul

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On top of that, when I played sports as a kid and through high school, my father instilled in me some things I will never forget and always abided by.

First, I should start off by saying that he could have been a pro ballplayer. He was so touted in high school that in his freshman year, he replaced the starting senior first baseman who hit cleanup in a move by the coach that didn't sit well with some of the upper classmen. He was a natural if there ever was one. He was a left-handed first baseman who hit with power and had an incredible eye for hitting a baseball and fielded with the best of them. I'm always reminded of this when we happen to be at a mall and would run into old classmates of my dad's.

His very first at-bat, he hit a three-run homer over the right field fence. By the time his senior year came around, his coach would really push him to get the most out of him. Unfortunately for my dad, he took the constructive criticism too close to heart and ended up quitting the team. All my life, since I was a child, he instilled in me to never give up on my dreams and continue to pursue them no matter what the cost and that both of my parents would be there every step of the way. They are so tremendous in many ways and that is one of them.

What I'm getting at is my dad always told me there are things he would never allow me to do when I played sports. Never throw your helmet or bat, or argue with an umpire. If you struck out, you head back to the dugout and think about what you could have done better. Everytime you hit the ball, run the play out full speed. No exceptions. Never get in a fight with the other team and show good sportsmanship during the duration of the game, shake hands with the other team and congratulate them if they won. And under no circumstance were I to ever showboat. Spitting was also inexcusable.

Which brings me to Bonds and others like him. It truly disgusts me to watch them hit a 'homerun' ball and stare at it for 10 seconds and jog to first. You watch replays of last nights' 755 and it reeks of 'I, me, my'. Values are sorely lacking in todays' sports but most recently I was completely impressed with a guy who 'got it', Cal Ripken, Jr. During his HOF induction speech, he spoke of a time when he was in his second year and he threw his bat and helmet after a strikeout. He was thrown out of the game for his actions. Orioles player, Ken Singleton, got a videotape of that the next day and said, "Cal, is this really the kind of impression you want to make?" He also heard of a little boy and his family coming down to the game to specifically see him play and he was thrown out in the first inning. He said from that point on, he realized he had a responsiblity as a professional athlete and a public figure to lead by example on the field.

You hear that, Pacman Jones?

Paul

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Paul I don't disagree with you at all about Bonds, and in fact I am in the Aaron camp. My point is, before we crufcify Bonds, let's remember that he's not alone in this cheating game. It's only because he's at the 755 level that he gets the extra attention. No one makes a big deal of the sub-par cheaters, because no one cares. I will never understand how people like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb are idolized when they were in fact probably worse people than Bonds.

Marv

p.s. I have a sports writer friend who has covered baseball for 35 years. In his list of most rude and arrogant people he's ever met, is Cal Ripken.

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I believe Bonds is a liar and a cheater. Be a man like Jason Giambi and come out and say, "I'm sorry I did this junk and it shouldn't have happened". But he won't because it will forever tarnish his career and make him even more villified and get him prosecuted for perjury. Everyone is getting on Bud Selig for not acknowledging it sincerely. How can you? He knows the truth but his hands are tied and has been mum on the whole subject. Costas asked him at least half a dozen times in different ways and he said, "It's up to the public to draw their own conclusions".

And that's all I have to say about that...

Paul

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Foul!

Paul - I couldn't agree more with all of your points. To me, Bonds is just an f'n punk. I was kind of hoping that every pitcher the rest of the year would either bean him or walk him. I can't wait until he retires after this year. It looks like it will just be a matter of time until A Rod, or "Stray" Rod as some call him with blow past Bonds record... btw I am not a Yankee fan.

I have been an Orioles fan my entire life, and it was a joy to watch Cal get inducted into the Hall of Fame. He and Tony are the last of a breed of great athletes, loyal athletes, and all around great people. I am proud that the licence plate on my car reads ORIOLES!

Tim

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Until Bonds is proven guilty, the rest of us can make all the assumptions that we want. The only thing I'll agree about is, he certainly doesn't give off the impression that he's a nice guy, but heck that didn't stop Cobb, Ruth, Carlton, Schmidt and many others from getting into the HoF.

Marv

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"It looks like it will just be a matter of time until A Rod, or "Stray" Rod as some call him with blow past Bonds record... btw I am not a Yankee fan."

Just wondering why anyone would think you might be a Yankees fan because of your saying something positive about A-Rod.(?) Most of us serious, old-time NYY fans have no use for Rodriguez, even if he is having a great season....(Personally, I wish Boston had gotten him in '04...I suspect they'd still be in a now even longer championship drought- would it be 89 years now?)

Regarding Bonds - I have very mixed feelings. He was headed for the HOF anyway prior to juicing up starting in '99 or so. Based on his previous HR rate/outputs, he certainly wouldn't have caught Aaron, but would have likely finished in the 600s anyway. I think MLB puts way, way too much emphasis on statistics anyway. While, as Tim states above, A-Rod's likely to overtake Bonds if he stays healthy, baseball fans who are too hung up on stats should sit back and contemplate stats/records which will certainly never ever be broken....in our lifetimes or beyond! (Example - Anyone ever gonna top Cy Young's 511 wins? Howsabout Hack Wilson's 190 or 191 RBI in a season? Rogers Hornsby's .424 in season? I doubt it!)

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One thing else about Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmiero, etc. While everyone's so bent out of shape over real or presumed steroid abuse that may have racheted up their performance....let's sit back and see if they suffer any long-term damage. For example, in bodybuilding and pro wrestling, where 'roid abuse has been running rampant for decades, there have been tons of former participants dying incredibly young - in their 40's or very early 50's mostly. If, let's say, one of the aforementioned alleged abusers above dies at a very young age of heart failure,.....well, they certainly didn't get away with much in the long haul!....and were the records worth it? It's extremely scary seeing what some athletes will do to enhance their performances, knowing about both short and long-term risks.......

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Today seems like a good day to vent about sports as I watch the PGA tournament at Firestone in Akron, OH. Golf is one of my favorite things to watch because of the skill, the beautiful scenery of a golf course, and how the outcome falls solely on the individual.

I grew up watching it with my dad. The greats like Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino all played with such class, dignity, sportsmanship and such respect for the game.

When I see the path it's heading down, I fear we will lose our last pure platform of sportsmanship and reverence for the game. Although I love to see a player of Tiger Woods' ability shattering all these records (deservedly so, he's an amazing talent), I hate to see things like throwing clubs and mouthing obscenities in a game that is a 'gentlemen's sport'. All the "get-in-the-hole!" comments from the gallery has gotten so out of hand, I guess I long for that time when it was all about class and grace.

Thank goodness for guys like Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples who are such wonderful athletes who even on bad days won't display overly visual frustrations. I'm also a sucker for poignant moments such as the one where Phil and Fred were battling it out on the back 9 and walked side by side, chatting, laughing, patting each other on the back amidst a fight to the finish for a major championship. You'd never see Tiger do that but to each his own.

I'm off my soapbox today... I'll watch some thugs hash it out in the NFL HOF game tonight too. I'm a glutten for punishment.

Paul

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Ha! I'm watching the golf too...Woods is absolutely amazing...if he continues at this pace he will pass Jack as the greatest ever in a couple of years.I also enjoy watching Daly ...who can be lights out one day...and play like a hack the next...no dicipline.Yes Tiger not going to do much back slapping...but what a hard worker...He also look like a football player now.

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I hope Paul Sidoti has kids, or at least is in a position where he has influence over kids. We need more guys like him in positions of influence. And we need less from the rancid apologists for guys like Bonds, Pacman etc etc..

Paul articulated my thoughts exactly, so I'll spare you guys a long post by me. I'll just say that Grant Hill's philosophy of sports hits the nail pretty square on the head. He got it from his dad, Calvin Hill, and it goes something like this: "Respect the sport, respect your opponent and respect yourself".

P.S. For those jonesing for a good clean sports fix...I've gotten into Division III football over the last few years and I love it. It's kinda like a throwback to 1900 as the athletes are not on scholarship, generally have no chance to play pro football..and thus play only cuz they love the game. There's no taunting etc and the guys exercise real sportsmanship. And the competition is fierce and a blast to watch!! I'm a Wisconsin Whitewater fan, but for those of you in northeast Ohio, Mount Union is local to you...and they're kind of the 60's Celtics of DivIII college football.

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I took a class last week "counseling the student athlete" for my masters. It was all about the NCAA rules,regulations and admissions requirements for Div I, II and III and the challenges these athletes face.

Paul, your dad's story is so similar to ones I heard all week. As a coach myself, I cannot abide and will not tolerate verbal abuse designed to "toughen up" a player. Inspiration is far more effective.

As far as the juice scandal, we discussed that at great length because we needed to know what to look for in steroid abuse. It's mostly NONATHLETES using in junior and high schools.

The grand jury that investigated Balco pharmaceuticals revealed through testimony that several athletes, including Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield, used steroidal precursors including a cream rubbed on the thighs and a subingual (under the tongue) called "The Clear" that will not show up in drug tests. Hence the name. The key to these steroid precursors is that you must have the workout to have the conversion within the body to testostone to build and repair the muscle tissues.

Does steroid use improve ability? No. The natural ability MUST be there to being with - steroids enhance performance. What you will see down the road is liver disease, homicidal rage if they don't stack (combine various steroids) and pyramid (build up and taper down) correctly. Heart disease, genital atrophy. What a future. The late Lyle Alzado attributed his brain tumor to the juice. His head size had grown larger just like Barry's. You can make your own conclusions.

Grant Hill's philosophy should be the standard.

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I watched ESPN last night....it showed the milestone homers for Bonds....I watched carefully to see if I could see a "bulking" up...like suddenly...I noticed that he got "gutty" somewhere around homerun 500-600... He was a SKINNY thing when he started. I do think it's a milestone to be celebrated....and I pray it's not tarnished by doping. Hanks success will never be matched IMO....but records will be broken. And until it can be 100% proven that he is guilty...then he's innocent...right? Very confusing....and sports ain't what they used to be!!

I coached my sons team for a season....lil league...and all you asked of them was their best and that they be good sports....just didn't happen with some kids....because the parents weren't exactly setting the greatest examples...and later on, the coaches would pull a kid if he missed a ball...or dropped the ball....my son was fed up with it...he quit...and I wanted him to quit.

Ronda

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I have been coaching soccer for 11 years and my worst experiences have been with parents. You're being very nice and diplomatic, Ronda!!

The burnout rate for kids is very high in sports and it happens very young as well. Kids who have talent are sometimes pushed too hard. The kid doesn't have any fun, too much stress, and loses the love of the sport. They start the "screw you" factor aimed at the parents and THAT is pretty ugly to watch. They fake being injured or sick. They "dog' it on the field, all the while staring at the parent who is screaming at them to MOVE. Drugs, alcohol, and suicide are the severest back lash.

It's got to change. Professional athletes didn't choose to be role models but they are, whether they want to be or not.

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The burnout rate for kids is very high in sports and it happens very young as well. Kids who have talent are sometimes pushed too hard. The kid doesn't have any fun, too much stress, and loses the love of the sport.

Two years of coaching Evan's Little League team, and I am astonished by the lack of respect some coaches have toward their players (9 and 10 year olds), or the mental abuse some parents put onto their children.

Marv

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Sure, in generations gone by you had your Denny McClains, Ty Cobbs, Jaun Marichal and others who displayed bad behavior at times.Its part of life as a whole but its the frequency of the bad behavior, both in baseball and in other sports, that gets me down these days. It seems like a week cant go by where someone is involved in a shooting, domestic violence, dog fighting, hand gun possession. Bad behavior seemed to be the exception years ago, now its the norm. But I would also say that todays media driven world plays a role. I am sure there were situations and items in the past that simply were not reported or exposed. Its a different world today. I dont like Barry Bonds, his egotism and attitude. Hank Aaron was someone everyone could be proud of in holding that record. Especially in terms of how he had to conduct himself and what he had to suffer with in his career. Sadly, I dont think the steroids in question were banned at the time Bonds is alleged to have used them. This is relevant and cannot be ignored. This is why they were trying to nail him on other charges, such as perjury. But the steroids problem goes beyond Bonds. McCguire, Canseco, Rodriguez etc. It starts with a system and culture that tells minor leaguers and high schoolers you wont make it if youre not big enough. You wont make it if you dont develop some more power. You wont go to the majors at 5 feet nine inches. There are many stories of guys hitting over .300 in the minors who simply wont make it cause they cant show they can hit enough homers. Its interesting because many greats from Cobb to Shoeless Joe from Rose to Ozzie Smith didnt hit a heck of alot of homers but now "showing power" means so, so much these days. It says alot about our culture and the way the game has developed within it. So much so that many major league teams are incapable of playing small ball or putting together a few basehits consecutively. For me its a sad moment to see Aaron losing this record. And losing the record to a tubby cloud of suspicion is even worse. I look back fondly on the feelings of baseball associated with my youth. Before greed and media exposure and bad behavior tainted the game. Bud Selig will tell you the game is in great shape. Sure, in terms of economics. But what of the soul of this game? Its become wounded in its ever growing emphasis on money and selfishness.

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Foul. Aaron did it in a shorter time period than Bonds, and without 'assistance'. 'Nuff said.

Glad to hear Paulie and others vocalize true sportsmanship. It's a shame that is rarely taught these days, but hopefully Paulie and the rest of us can try to imprint those values on the youth of today.

Anne

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