Pat Calabria
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March 21 - What An Ass-terisk

This is the second time I am writing about Barry Bonds, and I hope it's the last,
and that Bonds will inexplicably vanish like a breath in the wind so we can all go
back to loving baseball and arguing over statistics and telling the umpire to get in
the game. I don't know what major league baseball is going to do about Bonds,
but I know what I would do.

If any evidence emerges that Bonds ever used steroids - and let's just say, that
doesn't appear to be a stretch - then Bonds should be suspended, his home run
total should not be recognized once he inevitably, but sadly, passes Babe Ruth
and Hank Aaron, and he should be excluded from the Hall of Fame. Maybe this is
a harsh sentence, but Bonds has done far more damage to the sport of baseball
than his bat could ever do to one.

His home run total should be recognized at that point from when it can be reasonably established he
began to take steroids. Sportswriters may argue that Bonds has not been convicted in a court of law,
but this case isn't being decided in a court of law and is not bound by legal rules of evidence. The law
isn't concerned with what's right or wrong, just what's legal.

I'm concerned about the right and wrong.

It was wrong of Bonds to use steroids, if he did, no matter what other home run sluggers were doing.
It was wrong for him to deny the use of steroids, if it turns out he used them - a lie that would put him
on the same planet as Pete Rose's refusal to admit he gambled. It was wrong for him to pursue the
most important record in baseball, and maybe in all of sports, under the spell of steroids, if he did
that. He may have done more than cheat; he may have ruined the delicate balance of the sport's
legacy and personal achievements.

Put it this way: is Bonds is established as a cheater, does he deserve to be recognized as the
greatest home run of all time? I don't think do.

If Bonds is proven to have been a liar, is that a characteristic that should get him voted into the Hall of
Fame? I don't think so.

It's not that Bonds is rude and snarly and egocentric even on his best days. It's that, it is alleged, he
pumped up his body with a banned substance, and kept doing it, because he was fueled by jealousy
and greed. And we want to give an athlete like this the benefit of the doubt?

Because of Barry Bonds, a whole era of statistics may need an asterisk beside them. The
achievements were made, yes, but not within the limits of the rules. Cheating diminishes the sport
and the players, and it's too bad Commissioner Bud Selig and the Player's Association doesn't yet
see that. I'd love to see some outrage of indignation from today's stars and yesterday's heroes,
because if Bonds cheated then he diminishes them, too.

Bonds may wind up with 800 dingers, but if it can be established that he took steroids beginning in
1998, then his total of home runs since then, according to me, would be this:

None.