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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Padres, Wednesday 3/8

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Since BCB started in February 2005, the three topics I've written about that have generated the most commentary by you, gentle reader, are:

  • the winter meetings last December;
  • the first day of Cub ticket sales last month, and
  • Barry Bonds.
The article in this week's Sports Illustrated setting out the damning evidence in the new book "Game of Shadows", to be released March 27, that appears to give definitive proof that Bonds not only used steroids, but probably used more of them for a longer period of time than any other player, has created loud and long commentary:

The bottom line appears to be that Bonds was jealous of all the attention that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa got during the HR chase in 1998, and began doing various 'roids during the subsequent offseason. The difference in HR totals is obvious; Bonds hit 34 in 1999, but in only 102 games. That projects to over 50 in a full season, which would have been a career high for him at the time.

You can read much about this elsewhere, so let me make two personal points:

  • About the numbers. You can't change them. You can't simply choose to ignore the homers that Bonds, or McGwire, or Sosa, or a confirmed steroid user like Rafael Palmeiro hit. If you negate them -- that calls into question the results of every game they played in; might have changed the 1998 (and other) playoff race; and would undermine 100 years of baseball history. Every single one of us will know that these numbers are tainted. It was said on one of my SABR mailing lists today:
    The numbers are the numbers are the numbers. How they are interpreted and regarded is what makes what we do interesting and worthwhile.

    Hear, hear. My personal opinion is that now that these revelations are public, Bonds may just decide that he's had enough; maybe he'll "try" to slog through a few more exhibition games, and then retire "because" of his knees. We'll all know the real reason. And if he doesn't, as I wrote last week: walk him. Every time he comes to the plate.

  • And the real shame of all of this is -- he didn't have to do it. Check out his career stats. He had 411 HR and 445 SB after the 1998 season -- on pace to hit well over 550 career HR in a normal progression. He was a Hall of Famer before he ever injected any foreign substance. He didn't have to do it. What could have been an admired career of a grudgingly admired player (since he never has had much of a cuddly image), is ending in disgust.

There is other news today. The Cubs face the Padres; Woody Williams will throw against Glendon Rusch.

There are five more WBC games today, including the featured USA/Canada matchup on ESPN2 at 3 pm CT. Cuba/Panama is the other TV game, on ESPN2 at noon CT.

Well! That ought to be enough. Discuss amongst yourselves.