Barry Bonds. Will you remember his name? Twenty, 30 years from now? How about 100? Will someone read up on Bonds and find his surly and arrogant personality wildly entertaining? Will his accomplishments blossom to mythical proportions? Will they do a movie about him and grow his legacy of malcontent into something of an eccentric hero or tortured soul?

The answer to all these questions is up in the air with those 450-foot blasts Bonds is still managing to hit, albeit not at such a ridiculously rapid pace as five years ago.

Bonds destroyed his reputation early in his career by being terse with the media, haughty to the public, and selfish with his teammates. The steroid scandal that he is by now more than allegedly tied into, is closure for a lot of baseball fans. You see, Bonds had an opportunity, like Jason Giambi, to come clean with the allegations. Giambi held a news conference apologizing for what he had done in the past, and while his lawyers advised him to keep it vague, we got the gist of what he was sorry for. If only Giambi were approaching Babe’s record or had surpassed the mark, then we could see just how far our angst over cheating could be squeezed and transformed into compassion.

Such an admission, even an inexplicit one, might have shed Bonds of his detractors, allowed his legacy, although tainted, to blossom into something noble and proud. With the breaking of the Balco grand jury testimony by San Francisco reporters, he was given a golden opportunity. But he swung and missed horribly. Instead Bonds has remained silent, which means he’s keeping to the cockamamie story that he took steroids unknowingly?#34;which he is reported to have testified to under oath. It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It was a missed opportunity to set the record straight.

What could baseball have done if Bonds came clean? A big-time player admits regretfully that he took performance enhancing drugs during a period of time when over half of major league baseball players may have been taking some sort of illegal stimulants. So baseball tightens up on its rules, and we all carry on with the game. Remember, we’re a very forgiving society.

Now we watch as investigators are hired, the media blitz over the Bonds/Babe record chase escalates, and major league baseball tries to clean up a dirty spill. It’s really quite sad that it has come to this.

The best that can be done at this point is to make Bonds an example. Records won’t stand up on their own if you’re not a standup athlete. This can’t be stated with a mere asterisk. Baseball breathes only through its fans, and it is the fans who need to show how unremarkable or insignificant Bonds’ recent success has meant to them.

Barry Bonds. Let the man, the name, be a lesson.


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Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...