Barry Bonds: Guilty until proven innocent*

Who doesn’t love the asterisk when it comes to records or feats accomplished in the sporting world?

It’s not like there is a lack of usage for the asterisk.

Many put an asterisk on the two NBA titles the Houston Rockets won in the mid-’90s when Michael Jordan retired for a couple of seasons.

Phil Jackson labeled the San Antonio Spurs’ title in the lockout-shortened year with an asterisk because the team did not have to go through a full season in its title run.

But they got the asterisk removed after last year’s championship and proved they could win in a full season.

Just two nights ago, Atlanta Hawks guard Bob Sura was going for his third-straight triple-double and purposely missed a layup in the closing of the seconds to accomplish the feat.

The NBA did not count the rebound. However, if the league had counted the rebound, then even that accomplishment would have an asterisk on it-that is, if anyone cared. It is the Hawks.

There is one feat, however, that many people do care about and at some point in the future, it might have an asterisk placed on it.

It may be the most hallowed record in the American sporting world: the all-time career home run record.

Barry Bonds hit his 661st career home run Tuesday night, passing Willie Mays for third on the all time homer list, and he is on pace to break the all-time career home run record in the 15th game of the 2006 season.

There will already be a smaller asterisk placed on any batter of this era who breaks the record, considering the excess of home run balls, the smaller parks and the possible conspiracy of a juiced ball.

But with Bonds, it obviously goes deeper than that and with every home run he hits, the thought of the steroids he may have taken probably creeps into every knowledgeable fan’s mind.

Major League Baseball ruled drug-testing labs could not test the urine samples that were taken last year.

So, in the end, we will never know if Bonds took the supplements, even though there are many signs pointing toward him taking steroids.

The man gained 35 pounds of muscle in the twilight of his career and he claims to have done that without the help of performance enhancing drugs.

But who knows, right?

He may have just really trained hard.

In any case, it doesn’t even matter at this point because the way things are going, we will never know.

But even if he did take the drugs, will it make enough of a difference in terms of how many home runs he will ultimately hit?

Do performance-enhancing drugs allow athletes to have quicker reaction times?

In the past, many players were dissuaded from lifting too many weights and getting bigger because it slowed reaction times.

Bonds has amazing bat speed and it certainly wasn’t steroids that helped him gain that ability.

Did it give him the power to launch the balls out of the park?

I doubt it, considering the fact that the man is launching the balls out of the stratosphere.

But the one thing it may have done is allowed his body not to break down, which has helped his body not disintegrate, so to speak, like many other ballplayers’ bodies have.

That issue may be the biggest one in the end, in terms of the reasons why steroids really propelled him to break the record.

But then again, he really may not have used them and been on a strict training regimen, which allowed him to stay in such good shape.

I am not even being sarcastic. There is a chance and nothing has been proven up to this point.

But just as everyone knows in the public world, there is no such thing as “innocent until proven guilty.”

The motto is truly, “guilty until proven innocent.”

And until it’s proven that he is innocent, then the asterisk stays on the record.

The asterisk is clearly not something that will be put in the record books if and when he breaks the record, but it will be in the mind of every journalist along with every sports fan out there.

It will be sad to see when he does break the record, considering how hallowed the record is.

If anything, baseball would want the greatest record in its sport to not have any doubt.

At this point not only is the asterisk placed on Barry Bonds, it is placed on the sport itself.

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