(In honor of the end of the Barry Bonds trial, I’m posting this vintage column on another outrageous, but overlooked chapter of the Steroids Era.)
Culture Schlock – By Darren Garnick
March 16, 2006
Forget Paula Abdul. Barry Bonds is already on his way to a career as a
cheap Jose Canseco impersonator.
With 708 career home runs, the steroids-disgraced Bonds is only seven
dingers short of passing Babe Ruth and 48 from topping Hank Aaron as
the greatest power hitter of all time. Yet, he’d be doing us all a
favor if he immediately fulfilled his true destiny – joining the next
cast of VH1’s “The Surreal Life.”
After writing his best-selling steroids confessional, “Juiced,”
Canseco shocked his fans by prancing around as a lingerie model on the
washed-up celebrity show. As a pre-emptive strike before this month’s
release of “Game of Shadows,” the steroids expose by San Francisco
Chronicle reporters, Bonds allegedly put on a dress to divert our
I say “allegedly” because every written account of the Giants’ spring
training spoof of “American Idol” mentions Bonds wore a skirt or a
“sleeveless dress.” Yet, the pictures all look like he ripped apart an
oversized Giants t-shirt and wrapped it around his torso like a halter
A man with Bonds’ power and resources could have hired Abdul’s
personal designer to craft him something more stylish and authentic.
As the Associated Press put it, “Paula Abdul probably could hit a
fastball about as well as Barry Bonds could impersonate Paula Abdul.”
Of course, the current furor surrounding Bonds has nothing to do with
fashion. Major League Baseball is about to knowingly allow the
“Cheaters Never Win” doctrine to be shattered forever.
Yes, steroid-infused frauds Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa already
tarnished the Roger Maris legacy with their phony home run race in
1998. And fellow fraud Jason Giambi was named Most Valuable Player in
2000. But those records at the time were only sullied by rumors and
innuendo. The evidence from the congressional hearings is now so
overwhelming that baseball officials can’t play stupid anymore.
Who’s refusing to take off their blindfolds and call a cheater a
cheater? Plenty of people are still bidding on Barry Bonds items on
eBay. Plenty of apologists on talk radio keep stressing how steroids
only enhance results for talented athletes – and how Bonds was already
one of the greatest hitters and fielders in the game before he took
More baffling: The Topps Company still proudly hails Barry as their
spokesperson for baseball cards. In 2005, Topps issued special cards
celebrating each one of Bonds’ first 660 home runs with the date,
place and pitcher who gave up the blast. The new 2006 cards continue
with homers 661-708, with plans to issue additional cards this year as
Hopefully, there’ll be no need.
Ironically, Topps is now pushing a “Topps of the Class” promotion to
reward students for earning good grades in school. Students who bring
their report cards to participating hobby stores are given free
baseball cards as promised by their slogan “Work Hard, Get Cards.” No
word if academic cheaters are eligible, too.
Richard Maris, Roger’s youngest son, told the Orlando Sentinel last
week that he believes his father’s single season home run record of 61
is still the legitimate record. Not Bonds’ 73.
“The only enhancement Dad used (in 1961) was cigarettes,” Maris said.
“He smoked Camels, and I doubt they helped him hit any more home
According to allegations in “Game of Shadows,” what helped Bonds hit
more homers include human growth hormone, women’s fertility drugs and
a bovine steroid used to beef up cattle.
Maybe I’m a loser, but I’d rather hit all singles and be ninth in the
batting order than inject myself with women’s fertility drugs. Yikes!
No wonder Bonds felt an urge to put on a dress.
For the record, columnist Darren Garnick doesn’t inject himself with
bovine enhancement drugs either. “Culture Schlock” runs every
Thursday in Encore.