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xml [LEMONS]


3.02.2004

Say It Ain't So, Barry

Bonds got steroids, feds were told

I used to detest Barry Bonds. I grew up a Braves fan, and one of my favorite moments in major league baseball was watching Barry--then a Pirate--sitting cross-legged in the outfield as the Braves celebrated a NLCS win. Barry was arrogant, cocky, not a nice guy.

But here, I watched him play. Season-by-season, I went from antagonism, to grudging respect, to admiration. Power, poise and grace. It isn't just his ability to smack the ball out of the park, it's how he moves. How he seems to play without effort. The more I saw him, the more I became convinced that he is the greatest player of his generation. Just like he always said. Somebody get this man a Series ring, nobody deserves it more! Slowly, and against my will, he became my favorite player since Greg Madddux, and before that Dale Murphy. I love to watch Barry play.

Don't you?

I've always defended Barry. Even during this BALCO catastrophe. Sure in my heart that, despite his massive gains since his early days, here was a man who cared too much about The Game to juice. Barry is too smart for that, I'd say. He has too much pride, I'd maintain. His off-season weight training program is legendary, I'd argue. He's got a better sense of the history of the game for that to be possible, I'd posit, wishfully. And in my heart, did I know the truth? No. No way.

. . .


When I was a little kid, my favorite player was always Pete Rose. Wasn't yours? Of course he was. He was everything the game should be. He was magic. He was fast. He was a piece of iron. Fuck you, Pete. You smashed my dreams, when dreams were still important to me. You deserve the hall, but I hope it never happens in your lifetime. Charlie Hustle was my hero. But today, Pete, you don't mean shit to me.

And today, this morning as they eat breakfast and get ready for school, there are thousands of kids reading the newspaper, reading the sports page, reading the allegations about Barry. I hope it isn't true Barry, I'm still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I'm still willing to defend you, to stand by you. Because I still need heroes. I still need to watch ordinary humans do extraordinary things.

But I don't give a damn about cheaters. And if it's true, Barry, if it's true--and I hope against all hope that it isn't--that's what you have become. And if it is true, I hope they kick you the fuck out of the game. Giambi too. If it's true, well then... Fuck you, Barry. You don't mean shit to me.

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