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Sports on Earth: A Closing Tribute
May 13, — Bonds is charged in superseding indictment with 15 felony counts alleging he lied to a grand jury when he denied knowingly using PEDs and that he hampered the federal government's doping investigation. June 11, — A three-judge panel of the 9th U. Schroeder and Stephen Reinhardt voting to uphold and Carlos T. Bea dissenting. Each count carries sentence of up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Federal sentencing guidelines indicate recommended sentence of to months if convicted on any of the counts. March 31, — Former Bonds personal shopper Kathy Hoskins becomes the only person to give eyewitness testimony that Anderson injected Bonds.
April 6, — Illston agrees to prosecution motion to dismiss one of the counts accusing Bonds of making a false statement. October, batting around. Three things turned me into a diehard Bonds fan: Watching the loving way he treats kids as opposed to adults, especially sportswriters ; watching him play through pain; and finally, Rick Reilly's Sports Illustrated hatchet job last August, in which the Giants' star second baseman, Jeff Kent, blasted Bonds for not being a team player. Or anybody else," Kent told Reilly.
I was raised to be a team guy, and I am, but Barry's Barry. The Reilly article forced me to a conclusion I'd been resisting for years: that race plays a small but sorry role in the negative way Bonds gets treated by the media. And no amount of arguing, even with black friends who don't like Bonds, will ever convince me otherwise.
Barry Bonds steroids timeline
Watching the often-sullen Kent get off without a sports-world raspberry for ripping his teammate in the middle of a pennant run -- not to mention the home run chase -- convinced me there's a double standard for black and white prima donnas. And pardon this digression, but it's hard not to feel vindicated by the recent incident in which Kent claimed he broke his wrist washing his truck, but did it doing wheelies on his motorcycle, a contract no-no. Before the truth came out, "team guy" Kent blasted folks who scoffed at the truck-washing story with a little swipe at his teammates: "People making fun of a guy who washes his own truck, that's sad," Kent told reporters.
I don't have maids, I don't have car-wash guys. I don't have nannies. He'd had a great run until then: He hit a home run on Opening Day, -- the third straight year he had homered in the season opener -- but with only five home runs to go to join the club, he fell into a slump. He went 0-for on a swing through Los Angeles and San Diego, and told reporters he was having a hard time with the spotlight. The spotlight.
It's tough," he confessed, with disarming but unnerving honesty which didn't bode well for his breaking the home-run record. Then the slump ended and the McGwire chase really began: He hit five home runs in five days, including No. We didn't know it then, but a dazzling history-making season had begun. Still, he was streaky all year long: Hit in the hand by a pitch in early May, he went into another mini-slump, going about a week without a homer.
I got to talk to him in that period, for the first time ever.
My secret for keeping my Bonds love alive has been never to talk to him as a reporter. I've criticized sportswriters who repay Bonds' rudeness with nasty coverage, but I worry I'm not a big enough person to handle a Bonds brushoff any better. But that May afternoon I was on the field for another assignment, and Bonds actually struck up a conversation with me, so I asked him about his injured hand. He took off his batting glove to show me how much tape he was wearing on the injured fingers, as if grateful for the attention. Then he shrugged. This was a humble, friendly Barry I hadn't seen before, but it turned out it wasn't my charm alone -- he actually mellowed in the course of the season.
He was chummier with his teammates and nicer to reporters, scheduling press conferences in many cities as the home run chase heated up, which it began to do in late May. He hit a National League record nine home runs in five days, including three against Atlanta May 20, and another two the next day he'd have 10 multi-home run games in the course of the season, and 17 in May alone.
By mid-June, he'd already tied the record for most home runs before the All Star break, with an astonishing 37, though he would only hit two more in the next three weeks, his longest silent stretch of the season.
Barry Bonds Fast Facts
But it wasn't just home runs. He'd finish the season batting. In the midst of the crazy second half, he faced the Rick Reilly story, and the local media firestorm that followed, handling it with newfound grace and equanimity, suggesting it was possible Kent had been misquoted. He hadn't. I was sure the momentum was over. The season was interrupted for a week, and when it resumed, Bonds didn't seem ready to carry on as before.
The night the Giants played again, during the pre-game ceremony, he looked stricken, drugged, despairing. He had tears in his eyes. I knew he wouldn't hit No. Andres Galarraga, though, hit the longest home run in the short history of Pacific Bell Park, the Giants' new downtown stadium, and that made sense: Galarraga, always a baseball mensch, survived cancer two years before, and he has the heart to defeat anything.
But then Bonds began to rally.