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Bonds needs to just go away

By Chris Ruddick
MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If there was anyone left on the planet who thought Barry Bonds had not used steroids, those beliefs were likely eliminated this past week when excerpts from an upcoming book were released detailing in unbelievable fashion how much and how often he actually used.

In typical Bonds fashion he has shrugged off the new allegations, but what will Major League Baseball's reaction be to the latest claims? Bonds has never failed a drug test, nor were steroids illegal in the game when he supposedly started using.

Commissioner Bud Selig now has quite a dilemma on his hands, as Bonds, with 708 career homers, approaches two of the most cherished numbers in baseball history - Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's marks of 714 and 755 home runs, respectively. Baseball usually celebrates feats of that magnitude on the grandest of all stages, but with the steroid suspicions pretty much becoming fact, MLB is in quite a predicament.

Unfortunately, Selig is in a no-win situation here. He, as the commissioner, does have the right to investigate Bonds and could ultimately suspend him. However, I don't think that would go over too well with the Players Association since technically he has yet to do anything wrong.

So, MLB will continue to treat Bonds as if nothing has happened. There will be fireworks and a huge ceremony the moment No. 715 comes off his bat. Hopefully, though, it never comes to that. Maybe between now and the start of the season someone will get in his ear and convince him to get out now and save the game that made him and his father famous any more embarrassment.

To Bonds, though, that would be admitting guilt and that is not happening anytime soon. I think he almost enjoys going out there everyday acting as if he is above everyone and everything.

What a public relations nightmare it will be for not only Bonds, but all of baseball, if he passes Ruth on the road. It could get ugly. Bonds will almost have to be protected to ensure he hits No. 715 in San Francisco, where the milestone will be treated as if he never heard of any human growth hormones.

By the way, Bonds plays in always visitor-friendly Philadelphia the first weekend in May. I am almost rooting to see him go past Ruth there. That should be a nice reception, as he rounds third and heads for home. The boos that greeted Michael Irvin as he was carried off the field on a stretcher will seem tame compared to the "hero's welcome" Bonds would receive.

According to San Francisco Chronicle writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams's book, Game of Shadows, Bonds began using steroids after the 1998 season because he was jealous of the attention that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa got during their epic home run battle.

I guess being a three-time MVP and already considered one of the greatest ballplayers in the history of the game at that point was not enough. It is not like steroids made Barry Bonds a Hall of Famer. He was already a five-year lock before he ever injected any needle into his ass.

Bonds loves to play the race card - which is the reason he has always said Ruth's number is more important to him than Aaron's - and it has to drive him crazy that he is under this cloud of suspicion as he approaches baseball immortality, while the white McGwire was treated as a king when similar questions could have been raised at the time of his record.

The thing with Bonds is that he is just so damn smug. He continues to deny, deny, deny. It is obvious to everyone that something is going on. Take a look at some of his baseball cards while he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates, heck check out his first few years with the Giants. He looks like a completely different person now.

As most players begin to decline in their mid-30s Bonds has produced some of the best years ever to be seen in major league history. Since he reportedly started using steroids, Bonds has homered 397 times, has four more MVP awards and two batting titles to his credit. Now you tell me if something is going on.

McGwire's no-comments last year at the Steroid Hearings before Congress were as good as an admission of guilt and it will probably cost him entrance into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot. Bonds is different, though. I don't see how he does not get in, even if he came out tomorrow and admitted to the stuff in the Game of Shadows book.

The best thing for Bonds to do is just retire. He has plenty of excuses he could use - age, his knees, his family, mistress, whatever. Just go away and come back in five years when you are inducted into the Hall.

Sports fans are a fickle bunch. Their memories are real short. If he disappears for a while and reappears in Cooperstown, he will be celebrated as one of the greatest of all-time. If he continues to play this charade and passes Ruth, people won't be so easy to forgive and forget.

Sure Bonds is a creep and will always be remembered as one, but he is the best player of his generation and he was before he ever decided to put anything into his body.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.
Chris Ruddick


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