August 15, 2005

What will Barry Bonds do?

The 41-year-old slugger who has won the National League MVP award four years in a row has conveniently missed the entire season having his knee tinkered with, thus avoiding the chance of being caught like Rafael Palmeiro for steroids. So, what will Bonds do next year?

- If he comes back and stays on steroids, he runs a fair chance of being caught, which would make the Palmeiro story look like a small town zoning meeting for news value. (Of course, Bonds can afford the best masking agents and biochemical advice, so he might risk it.)

- If he retires now, his reputation is toast.

- On the other hand, if he comes back with 30 pounds less muscle and hits only 15 homers next year instead of his usual 45, he will have as much as admitted he was cheating.

- So, here's what I expect. Secretly, Bonds will go off steroids, but will use Human Growth Hormone, which is officially banned, but for which baseball doesn't test. (It requires a blood test rather than a urine test, and blood tests aren't in the players' union's contract.)

Publicly, Bonds will announce that his knee is now too delicate to support all that upper body mass he innocently built up through his dedicated pumping of iron, so he's switching to a lighter, more flexibility-oriented exercise regimen. He'll talk a lot about how how his weakened knee can't let him drive his lower body through the ball anymore, so he's relying more on his wrists, etc. etc. so don't expect tape measure homeruns from him anymore.

He'll return, pass his steroid tests, and play maybe 15 pounds lighter next year. Pumped up on HGH, he'll still hit about 30 homeruns, which is tremendous for a player who turns 42 midway through next season.

Sportswriters will, on the whole, proclaim that Bonds's successful, even heroic, return from his knee injury vindicates him and all those smear artists should just shut up. Granted, sportswriters all know Bonds is a jerk, and when they stop and think, they all know it's physically impossible to do what he has done for the last four seasons without cheating. But, spectator sports and sportswriting are fundamentally driven by hero worship, not cold-eyed analysis.

We'll see.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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