By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
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By Erin Sherbert
He's the least likable superstar in sports! The grouchiest home-run hitter in history! The man who makes President Bush look like a media-management expert during times of scandal! Yes, he's San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, and as every local baseball fan knows, his name has surfaced in the federal investigation of an alleged steroid-distribution ring run out of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, or BALCO. Since he appeared before a San Francisco grand jury in December, Bonds -- who, when he's not snarling at the media, remains on pace to break Hank Aaron's all-time record for home runs -- has been the subject of endless speculation and debate, and the steroid issue has all but overshadowed the other story lines of spring. Though the groundswell of public opinion is pushing Major League Baseball to act against steroids, Bonds' budding legacy has largely gone untarnished and most tough questions have not been asked. Indeed, the majority of fans, media, and baseball officials seem willing to overlook yet another unsightly aspect of Bonds' character simply because he hits the ball out of the park.
Are you a Barry Bonds apologist? Take the Dog Bites quiz and find out!
1) With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Bonds comes to bat at SBC Park. He belts the first pitch he sees deep into the right-field seats. As No. 25 lingers at home plate to admire the towering 500-foot blast, you:
a) Remain glued to your seat, lamenting softly to your friends that your enjoyment of Bonds' heroics will be forever dampened because of the steroid question.
b) Stand and clap, politely saluting the ballplayer who has just won the game with a dramatic grand slam.
c) Rise as one with the crowd, whipping your Giants cap over your head, and scream through an orange-colored bullhorn: "Does it look like he needs steroids? I don't think so!"
2) You describe yourself as a:
a) Baseball fan.
b) Giants fan.
c) Barry Bonds fan (add two extra points if you're Willie Mays).
3) In a front-page story on March 2, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that, according to information given to federal investigators, Barry Bonds received steroids and human growth hormone from his personal trainer and longtime friend, Greg Anderson, who obtained them through BALCO, the nutritional supplements lab at the center of the government's investigation into a steroid-distribution ring. You read the revelations and think to yourself:
a) "Well, we will probably never know the whole truth, but this is the clearest sign yet that Bonds may have taken steroids. It certainly creates doubt in my mind about Bonds' achievements."
b) "Well, we may never know the whole truth, but the one thing we must avoid, at all costs, is speculation. Besides, why would Bonds want to take steroids?"
c) "Well, of course he received steroids. I mean, how do you know to avoid them unless you know what they look like?"
4) Your daughter is a budding sports enthusiast, and plays softball in a grade-school league. As you drive her to practice one afternoon, she tells you that some of her teammates have been teasing her because she wears No. 25 in honor of her favorite player, Bonds. They accuse her of admiring a "cheater." What do you tell her?
a) "Honey, Barry Bonds is a human like anyone else, and there are legitimate questions about whether he and other superstars are following the rules of fair play. It's good to have role models and people you look up to, but it's equally important to be honest with yourself about their fallibility and flaws. In fact, that might be the most valuable lesson heroes can teach."
b) "Hey, look at Kobe Bryant. Now there's an asshole."
c) "Your friends are saying what? I want names. Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player who ever lived -- just ask the life-size cutout in the rec room."
5) What's the best way to fix baseball's steroid problem?
a) Bust the superstars who are using. If baseball is serious about ensuring fairness and protecting its future, it needs to send a message that it will punish even its most beloved and iconic offenders.
b) The owners and the players' association must strengthen baseball's anti-steroid policies and grant oversight to an independent, third-party testing agency.
c) Legalize 'em!
6) It's a mild summer evening at SBC Park. You're hoping for a laid-back dose of the national pastime, but a nearby fan in a Dodgers cap won't be dissuaded from screaming taunts at Bonds. Even when the aging left-fielder slaps a double into the gap, the Dodgers fan leaps to his feet and yells, "Let's see you hit without the elbow guard!" You turn around and respond thusly:
a) "Tell me about it. As if Bonds needs anotherunfair advantage. And didn't he used to struggle with inside pitching?"
b) "Pipe down, sir. The protective guard is approved by Major League Baseball, and several other players wear similar shields."
c) "Stuff it, Lasorda! When you make $16 million a year and talk to God after home runs, you can wear whatever you want."