Wednesday, March 03, 2004

And a Drunken Idiot Shall Lead Them

JB’s recollection earlier today of the facts of the incident at Pac Bell Stadium are substantially correct. Accusations were shouted by me, at times quite vociferously, regarding Barry Bonds’ use of chemical agents to enhance his athletic performance.

Maniacal and boorish as it was (and it was), I want to state for the record, my motivations went beyond the gallons of Anchor Steam consumed that night. Primary among them was my outrage at the willful mass denial being engaged in by the SF faithful in attendance that night. Before us stood this freakishly bloated ball player (Bonds), exhibiting feats of unprecedented power in regard to smacking a baseball, doing violence to the cherished baseball record books and the legacy of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, et al, and all amid a swirling firestorm of rumors and whispers that he’s been juicing for years.

Yet the fans were cheering and ululating and celebrating him like he was the second coming of Jesus Vega. I sensed smugness in the air as well, people congratulating themselves for their great lives. Not only do they live in beautiful San Francisco and can afford Giants tickets on a regular basis, they also get to act like they’re special enough to be present to watch one of the great historical achievements of all time. And on this account, they HAD to be challenged. They were living a lie which none of them were willing to admit. So, when Bonds hit another home run, I let my thoughts be known in a vehement, yet non-obscene, fashion.

Things didn’t actually get maniacally boorish until the beginning of the next inning. At which point Barry Bonds trotted out to take his defensive position in left field, which just so happened to be directly in front of the seats we were occupying. The crowd in our section again roared their tacit approval of his illegally enhanced accomplishments, men holding up their young sons and saying “see little Trevor - now that’s a role model.”

Needless to say, that was more than I could stand. And I realized at that moment I had the opportunity to not only confront those celebrating this man, but also to confront the man himself. What the celebrity sportswriters and broadcasters in town refused to do, this citizen-drunken journalist could now accomplish. At the very least I thought, it would be interesting to see how Bonds reacted.

We were sitting pretty high up in the bleachers, so he was a good 80 yards away. Meaning I had to put every ounce of lung capacity and vocal chord musculature into my yelp. So I inhaled deeply, slugged down a couple of mouthfuls of brew, and let it fly:


Variations of this theme lasted for the entire half inning. And let me tell you, there were some uncomfortable moments. Not just because a man was shouting like an idiot in public. More so, because of what this idiot was saying. I could tell those words were taboo in the friendly confines of the stadium where Bonds was on his way to remaking himself as the greatest slugger of all time.

No doubt the fans had heard the rumors before, the more discerning ones probably knew they were true. But no one had any interest in saying anything - because that would spoil the party. And to let the truth come out, shouted within earshot of Bonds himself (and I’m sure he did hear me, although there was no reaction), well, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

In retrospect it still does. Here’s a reminder of the lies everyone at Pac Bell were willing to blithely accept a couple of years ago. It’s from something called SNAC (Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning), the then official story on Bonds’ radical body transformation:

Bonds' imposing musculature reflects this new dedication to the physical arts. Working with personal trainer Greg Anderson, the superstar slugger has refined his weight training and nutrition regimens, and it shows. "Definitely, my improvements as a player are down to training and nutrition," Bonds tells MUSCLE & FITNESS. "Without a doubt. It has made me a better athlete than I was before."

But Bonds' rejuvenation owes itself to more than sets and reps. He's now calibrating his athletic performance at the cellular level. Since winter of 2000, Bonds has worked closely with San Francisco-based nutritional consultant Victor Conte of Balco Laboratories. Conte precisely measures the nutrient levels in the outfielder's blood, and then prescribes specific supplemental regimens to correct imbalances. Like the managers of every National League team, Bonds has noticed the difference. "I'm just shocked by what they've been able to do for me," he says.

And now a report from Fox News from a few weeks ago. The veil begins to lift:

Baseball power house Barry Bonds' personal trainer was charged Thursday with running an illegal steroid racket. A world-renowned track coach and top executives of a San Francisco-area nutritional supplements lab were also charged in a 42-count federal indictment returned by a grand jury in San Francisco.

The indictment names as defendants Victor Conte Jr., 53, the president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Lab Cooperative, or BALCO, and its vice president, 49-year-old James J. Valente. Also indicted were Bonds' personal trainer, 37-year-old Greg F. Anderson, and Remi Korchemny, one of the world's top track coaches.

The charges include conspiracy to distribute steroids, possession of human growth hormone, misbranding drugs with intent to defraud and money laundering.

Yes, at the time of the incident at Pac Bell, I was scorned, sworn at, and despised (and that was just by JB Doubtless and TRAH). Now that the truth is out there, am I looking for vindication? Not really. I’m happy just to know that my efforts to expose the lies were not in error. And if somewhere, somebody is thinking back to that night and saying “you know, that drunken assh*le was some kind of a crazy prophet. Why didn’t we listen to him?! Why!? Why!?” then so be it.

1 comment: