An open letter to Barry Bonds ...
Tough times bro. It seems like just yesterday you were San Francisco’s favorite son and baseball’s greatest star. Now the Feds are swarming over you like an al-Qaida operative.
Maybe you should avoid the waterboarding-style treatment you are sure to get in court and cut a deal.
Perjury won’t be an easy thing to acknowledge, but it sure beats a daily parade of former friends publicly dissing you. Besides, who didn’t lie about juicing back in the day? Everyone knows Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa couldn’t carry your jock, yet their steroid-fueled 1998 home run chase elevated them to cult hero status. If baseball was going to turn a blind eye, why should you get the stink eye and possibly prison time for following their lead?
Greg Anderson was only trying to level the playing field when he brought you all that BALCO stuff. One can only imagine how intoxicating it was to hit those mammoth splash-hit homers in front of roaring sold-out crowds as incredible new power surged through your massive muscles. Besides, Victor Conte’s chemical concoctions that morphed you into a real-life Incredible Hulk were thought to be undetectable.
Unfortunately, what you didn’t anticipate is government investigators and journalists digging deeper and deeper into the sordid world of performance-enhancing drugs.
Perhaps if you hadn’t broken those hallowed home run records, you wouldn’t have become such a lightning rod for IRS agent Jeff Novitzky and “Game of Shadows” co-authors Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada. But you did and you are. If you would have treated your inner circle with more respect they too wouldn’t be so eager to take you down, everyone except Anderson, of course, who should be knighted for his loyalty.
Look, everyone knows how hard it must have been growing up with an alcoholic father who rarely offered any praise. As gifted as you were on the field, the blessing of being raised around Giants baseball royalty also came with the burden of great expectation. Ultimately, you were derailed by an all-consuming quest to be the best. Now deal with the fallout as boldly as you did while playing the game. I remember a confrontation we had in the Candlestick clubhouse before the 1995 season when I asked whether you and other major leaguers owed anything to the fans for the players’ strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series. You angrily answered, “I don’t owe anybody nothin’.”
A few minutes later you apologized saying racial abuses and biased reporting you faced while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates made you sensitive to criticism from the media. You then talked about keeping a scrapbook of damaging stories you hoped to one day show your kids. The defining Bonds headlines are about to be written.
Your daughters and son will read those too.
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.