08 March 2006


The saddest thing about today's revelations about Barry Bonds is that a day that was supposed to be meant in remembrance of the late Kirby Puckett has been completely sidetracked by more steroid news. A few years back I was in San Francisco on a day off from work. I happened to be walking through Union Square when I saw a ceremony was being held in the little stage area. The event was for the Glaucoma Research Foundation, for whom Puckett had been a spokesperson. He was there, speaking and accepting a check on behalf of the foundation. Puckett was embarking on a new life as a public person living with glaucoma, as well as being the public face of glaucoma research. Until details emerged about his sordid divorce and other legal troubles, it was assumed that his transition to retirement was a smooth one. Sadly, Puckett's demise came all too soon as he apparently spent that last couple of years in seclusion, irreparably ruined both mentally and emotionally.

One can only guess how Barry Bonds' retirement will look. It's hard to imagine the man getting even more crusty than he's been in the past, but if he isn't voted into the Hall of Fame, it stands to reason that he'll only get more and more bitter as time passes. I'm in no place to judge Bonds - I was there for home runs 498 and 499 and several more. I sat and stood in numerous places in Pac Bell just to find the optimal place to watch a Bonds homer. I fell in love with the Field Level seats down the RF line, near the visiting bullpen. The ball came off his bat like fireworks - I half expected each ball to explode in mid-air. I'm an A's fan, but I appreciated the magnificence of Bonds' feats. I feel somewhat complicit, but I don't feel guilty. I understood what was probably happening. I wondered when looking at Bonds' transformation just as I did when I looked at Mark McGwire's neck or Jason Giambi's arms. In the end I voted with my wallet. I may not actually be complicit, but as a fan I at least tacitly approved of it. It was the nature of the game. I won't be a hypocrite about the issue. I'm not asking Bonds to retire and renounce his records just as I'm not asking the A's to forfeit the 1989 World Series. It's easy to get on a high horse. I won't do that.

The new, heavily detailed descriptions of the Bonds routine have already stirred up the media, which was supposed to be focused on Puckett's legacy and the World Baseball Classic. From here on out, it should be interesting to see if the drug testing program is once again reopened. Bud Selig thought he put the whole drug issue to bed. Now there's another cloud over the sport. Selig has said he won't erase or asterisk the records broken and made during the recent "juiced" era. Will he now revisit that stance?