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Bonds saga bound to get ugly

Poor Barry Bonds - bless his little steroid-laden heart. Nobody likes Bonds anymore. The fans are booing him. The press is picking on him. Even in laid-back San Diego, they are throwing syringes and other things onto the field, and I bet the other kids never invite him to their birthday parties.

And why all the fuss? All the guy is trying to do is play baseball - and hit home runs - and break the records of a couple of immortals named Ruth and Aaron. Of course, they were clean when they hit their home runs. Unless beer, in the case of the Babe, is ever proven to give a ballplayer a competitive edge.

Bonds, however, is as dirty as yesterday's underwear. That is if you believe his former trainer, about 2,000 references in a new tell-all book, your own eyes and the logic of his own manager.

In case you have been too busy to pay attention to the latest outrage surrounding the San Francisco Giants slugger, I will try to recap the whole thing for you.

Bonds, you see, hits baseballs for a living. He hits them hard and often. Always has. Until about eight years ago, however, he didn't hit them spectacularly far - at least not as often as a couple of his National League counterparts, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

But after the summer of 1998 - a summer which saw McGwire and Sosa stage the greatest seasonlong home run derby since Maris topped Mantle in 1961 - Bonds decided, according to "Game of Shadows," the aforementioned tell-all book, that he wanted to play long ball, too. Seems he was jealous of all the attention the homer hitters were getting.

So what's the easiest way to put on 25 or 30 pounds of muscle, particularly when you are a grown man and already giving your body as much strength work as it can humanly handle.

Well, maybe you do what lots and lots of other players are said to be doing. You take something. Something that will make your muscles bulge like Popeye's after a case of spinach. Something that is dangerous and risky and against the rules of baseball, and maybe even illegal - but something as effective as, well, spinach is for Popeye.

Next thing you know, Bonds is as bulked up as the Incredible Hulk with a mad on, and balls are flying out of parks from the Golden Gate Bridge to Peachtree Street. And here we are at the start of a brand new season and Bonds is just a hot homestand short of Babe Ruth's 714 and a normal post-supplement season short of Henry Aaron's all-time record of 755 - the most revered statistic in a sport that is all about statistics.

And most true baseball fans are outraged. They are outraged because they don't think a player - any player - should receive the accolades that will come with the home run crown if he didn't play by the rules. They are outraged because Bonds continues to insist that he didn't knowingly take anything. (His former trainer has testified under oath that he shot Bonds up, but Bonds says he didn't know with what. Right.)

They are outraged because the player's union continues to block any real attempts to deal with the steroid issue in general and Bonds' run at the record book in particular. They are outraged because baseball commissioner Bud Selig doesn't have enough of what is hit and thrown every night on the diamond to stand up to the players, ala Kennesaw Mountain Landis, and clean up the game.

And they are outraged because once a home run is hit and recorded in the box score, it can never really be taken back. There will never be an asterisk big enough to cover up Bonds' name in the books.

And, so the fans are prepped to take the only recourse left open to fans. They are coming to the ballparks, if this week's opening series in San Diego is any indication, to boo Bonds off the field. Poor Barry.

After opening day, he said the fans "embarrassed themselves" by the way they acted toward him, and said their behavior was "all on them," whatever he intended for that to mean.

But his manager, Felipe Alou, made the most astute comment I have heard yet on the issue. Speaking of the fans in general, and the person who tossed out the giant syringe, I suppose, in particular, Alou said that the only fans who should boo and heap verbal abuse on Barry Bonds are the ones who "are clean themselves; who have never taken anything or done anything wrong."

Now this is an obvious paraphrase of the story of Jesus and the adulteress who was about to be stoned by an angry mob. You remember how the story goes. That's the one in which Christ said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

But if you remember your Scriptures, the woman in that story was as guilty as sin: "caught in the very act."

I think Felipe Alou must know his Bible pretty well.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and high school history teacher who lives in Rockdale County. Visit his Web site at www.darrellhuckaby.net. His column appears on Saturday.