Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Barry Bonds: Hall of Famer?

Barry Bonds has long been suspected of using steroids after his sudden power surge beginning in 1999 when he hit 34 homers in just 102 games and then just two seasons later hit a record breaking 73 home runs despite being 37 years old, an age when most players see a decline in their power numbers. Much of the evidence to date on Bonds' alleged long-term steroid use has come from leaked grand jury testimony where Bonds alleged that he unknowingly used a steroid cream called the "Clear" and the transformation of Bonds' body from a stick figure during his days with the Pirates to a guy looking like he's training for the World's Strongest Man competition.

Now it appears that there is some new and very damning evidence in a new book set to come out at the end of the month called: Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports. The authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams are two San Francisco Chronicle writers who allege that Bonds began taking a wide range of performancing drugs beginning in 1998, in part, out of jealousy of the attention given to Mark McGwire during that time. The book also alleges that Bonds is a tax cheat, an adulterer and a man who has wild mood swings (due to the steroid use) including incidents where he threatened to kill his mistress, Kimberly Bell. To support these allegations, the authors did a two-year investigation, compiling court documents, affidavits filed by BALCO investigators, confidential memoranda of federal agents, grand jury testimony, audiotapes and interviews with more than 200 sources.

On its face, it sounds like the authors have done their homework and if these allegations are true, I think Bonds' Hall of Fame chances have taken a very significant hit. I know if I had a Hall of Fame vote and I believed these allegations about his rampant steroid use were true, I would not vote for him. That being said, I need to read the whole book before I can make a fair evaluation of the author's evidence. Sports Illustrated is publishing excerpts of the book in the March 13 issue, which are accessible here. I plan on getting the book when it comes out on March 27th and I hope to have a post on the book within a few weeks.