$0.02: Barry gets buried | SummitDaily.com

$0.02: Barry gets buried

Devon O'Neil

As excerpted in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated, a pair of San Francisco Chronicle reporters have written a book, Game of Shadows, that is as detailed a display of reporting as the sports journalism world has ever seen.

In it, authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams do more than renew questions of whether Barry Bonds’ unprecedented home run paces and totals over the last seven years warrant skepticism. They bury Bonds. They give day-by-day accounts of his steroids use. They explain how he came into contact with each of his suppliers, how and where the drugs were injected into Bonds’ body, what Bonds and his trainers did to mask the use.

Bonds, who is 48 home runs short of passing Hank Aaron’s alltime record, is portrayed as a dangerous and intimidating figure during the five seasons the book covers in depth, 1998-2003. The authors allege that he threatened to kill his then-mistress, a woman named Kimberly Bell, multiple times.

Most notably, however ” the reason that everything about Bonds these days is such compelling information ” the authors paint a damning picture about the way the drugs catapulted into new territory Bonds’ statistics and, thus, place in history.

They allege that he turned to steroids after hitting 37 home runs in 1998, at the age of 34. That was the same year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled to the wire with record-setting home run totals of 70 and 66, respectively. Bonds got jealous, the book alleges, and decided to do something about it.

He began a comprehensive doping routine that included cycles and rage. Until the 1998 season, Bonds averaged one dinger every 16.1 at bats. In the time since then, he has hit one home run every 8.5 at bats.

The authors use once-sealed BALCO documents that have been unsealed since, as well as court documents, affidavits, grand jury testimony, more than 200 interviews, etc., to source their information.

What do we take from all this? For starters, a bit of irony: It comes at Bonds’ expense that a pair of dirt-digging reporters ” the profession that has so irked Bonds over his heretofore-magnificent career ” elevated themselves to a historic level of their own.

For decades America’s Nordic ski racing community waited and hoped for the announcement that came last week, when the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) pledged significant additional financial support to its cross country program. Seriously, decades.

There has always been an internal resentment of sorts that the U.S. alpine program gets so much more money and support than the rest of the USSA’s seven programs (this season, for instance, there are 45 alpine athletes on the U.S. Ski Team, and only five cross country athletes ” all of whom are male). At least in a small way, this announcement changes that perception.

Leadville’s ski joring competition is one of the last remaining sporting events that represents true Western roots ” which, lest we forget, included cowboys before skiers.

In parting, I figure the only way Barry Bonds can defend himself in light of the book detailed above is to sue the writers, claiming libel. But when Bonds was questioned about the book by reporters on Tuesday, he said he wouldn’t read it. “For what?” he said. “There’s no need to.”

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