Courtesy of CNN-SI (via Deadspin for me), we now have the long-awaited announcement that Barry Bonds was indeed on steroids. I’m not sure if this is news or not, since he did sort of admit that he was on “the cream” and “the clear” (but he claimed he didn’t know what they were). At any rate, SI has broken this story, which is really the result of a book that’s due out on March 27. According to the book, you can add insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate, and trenbolone to the list of designer stuff Bonds was on. SI says that Bonds used the drugs in “virtually every conceivable form.”
The authors of the book completed a two-year investigation including BALCO investigators’ affidavits and other confidential sources such as grand jury testimony. They have pinpointed the beginning of his steroid use as the end of the 1998 season, at which point he was averaging a home run every 16.1 at bats. Since then, he has averaged one every 8.5 at bats. They also describe his motivation for doping, saying that he was jealous of Mark McGwire.
Bonds currently has 708 career home runs entering the 2006 season. His injury-plagued 2005 limited him to just 14 games and 5 homers, but he is currently as healthy as possible. He will need 7 homers to pass Babe Ruth for #2 all-time and 48 to pass Hank Aaron.
I’ve said before that I never really liked Bonds, and you can count me among the many who are not shocked by this news. While I won’t root for him to keep getting hurt, I think it’s unfortunate that he will likely pass Ruth and may pass Aaron, depending on how long he decides to play. Bonds has never really been a likable player and is a stark contrast to the image that Kirby Puckett kept up during his playing days. The story about Puckett’s death will likely get considerably less coverage now that this story has broken.
It’s clear that the steroid scandal will probably continue to rock the baseball world indefinitely. Today continues the persistent flow of news stories about stars, but now we are talking about the highest of high-profile players. I’ll always be a baseball fan, so I’m just rooting for MLB to put a system in place that gets drug use under control. The users may always be ahead of the testers, but I think there’s value in trying to keep up.
As a stathead, it also bothers me that it is now difficult to put the last 20 years’ stats into context, since we’ll never know everything about which players were on drugs and which were not. Despite that, it’s important to move on and accept things as they are. Bonds was/is still a great player, even if I wish I never had to see his name in the record books.