T Nation

The Case For Barry Bonds

Early in the 1999 season, a 6-2 roughly 200 pound Barry Bonds was injured for the first time in his prolific career. Despite this, he would go on to be named TSN’s player of the decade-an honor which he deserved fully.

He came back ahead of schedule that year from an injury that some thought was the beginning of the end to his career. For the rest of the season, he struggled a bit with timing, but was hitting home runs at the highest pace of his career (about 1 per 11 at bats). The next year hit hit a career high 49, then 73.

Here’s my best guess, as well as comments about the issue.
Barry Bonds started taking steroids in 1999 and I suppose he probably almost legitimately justified it as a medical need in coming back from an injury. He quickly added 25 pounds of muscle.

Now, I am not a particular Barry Bonds fan, nor do I idolize any pro athlete, but I want to point out a few things.

  1. Barry Bonds was bordering on becoming one of the 10 greatest players of all time when he got injured in 1999. He already had become the only player with 400 home runs and 400 steals, and matched a record with 3 MVP awards, and probably should have won at least one more.

  2. He easily could have added most or all of that muscle naturally. He didn’t, but to think that an explosive 6-2 athlete could not build up to 225 mostly lean pounds naturally is absurd. The fact is that prior to the 90s, many players still considered lifting weights to be cheating, or at least not worth the time. As a matter of comparison, Darryl Strawberry grew from 190 pounds to 245 just in the natural process of growing up. Also, aside from possibly keeping him in the game longer, Barry Bonds flat out developed a more efficient swing during 2000 and stuck with it. He didn’t hit homeruns on average any farther than he had before '99.

  3. Considering that when perusing baseball stats, it is obvious that steroids as well as weight lifting became prevalant prior to '93 and were in full swing by '95, he really went a long time watching other players rise up to his level (McGwire, Sosa, Thomas) by cheating with steroids.

I think that compared to the others, his choice was at least understandable.

Now if he broke the law, or the rules of baseball as written at the time, he should be get a severe penalty, and his stats should be made unofficial. If he didn’t break the law or rules of baseball, then he should be accepted as the greatest player of his generation.

Negatives: Unfortunately, the stats produced in the last 10 years by steroid abusing players probably turned the lights off on the chances of players like Dale Murphy, Andre Dawson and Jim Rice from getting into the hall of fame. That’s a shame. I think those 3 guys at least would all be in right now as they were undeniably among the top 10 players for at least a decade.

WHats to say players weren’t using steroids before the mid-1990’s? Is there anything to dispell the notion that it is a more recent trend? I am just curious if any one has info.

[quote]ailax12 wrote:
WHats to say players weren’t using steroids before the mid-1990’s? Is there anything to dispell the notion that it is a more recent trend? I am just curious if any one has info.
[/quote]

Interesting, because I heard someone say that steroids were around in the 50s and Roger Maris might have been using them. You know the Yankees were pretty dominant.

Anyway, the main evidence inmy opinion was the size of baseball players. The average size of the first 14 guys to hit 500 home runs was 5-11 1/2, 195. The average size of the top 10 active players in slugging percentage is
6-2 1/2 225. Nevertheless, the main trend change is that baseball players have just gotten taller by 3 inches in the last 25 years. The pounds are still very much in proportion. Also, teams didn’t have weight rooms. Cities didn’t have weight rooms, and most baseball trainers up until the 90s were vehemently against lifting weights.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:
Here’s my best guess, as well as comments about the issue.
Barry Bonds started taking steroids in 1999 and I suppose he probably almost legitimately justified it as a medical need in coming back from an injury. He quickly added 25 pounds of muscle.

Now, I am not a particular Barry Bonds fan, nor do I idolize any pro athlete, but I want to point out a few things.

  1. Barry Bonds was bordering on becoming one of the 10 greatest players of all time when he got injured in 1999. He already had become the only player with 400 home runs and 400 steals, and matched a record with 3 MVP awards, and probably should have won at least one more.[/quote]

I remember back like in 1995 marveling at him having an on base percentage above 500% midway through the season. I loved watching him as a pirate and remember the year they should have beat Atlanta but the ump missed the call. Anyway it is a pity because he was really a great player before the steriods. His name is tainted now.

I’m not too sure he had it in him. I mean I’m sure he could have bulked up. But it looks like he put 3 or 4 inches just on his arms.

Didn’t he need a kidney transplant?

With the extra strength he was able to start swinging more compactly.

I thought Thomas looked pretty natural. Just a big guy. Not all puffy with the bulging forearms like Sosa, McGwire, Canseco (and others.)

If steriods are now illegal, it doesn’t seem fair that clean players should have to try to break records of drug users.

Yep.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:
Cities didn’t have weight rooms, and most baseball trainers up until the 90s were vehemently against lifting weights.

[/quote]

Couldn’t you improve the speed and control of your swing just by taking steriods and playing ball?

[quote]Jay Sherman wrote:
Couldn’t you improve the speed and control of your swing just by taking steriods and playing ball?[/quote]

Steroids have no affect on hand/eye coordination. Nothing that Bonds has taken, or could take can improve that aspect of hitting.

The press and congress wants to put all the blame for AAS usage on the players.

I think that the huge TV contracts, and player salaries have added a ton of pressure to athletes in all professional sports to take their performance to the next level. If the difference in me making less money, or getting cut, and a fat new contract is 15 homeruns, I’m going to do anything I can - legal or not - to ensure that I can hit 15 more nomers.

But let’s all blame Mark, and Barry, and Pudge, and hell - let’s blame Clemens while we’re at it. Why isn’t a Tommy John operation considered illegal?

This is a total bullshit witch hunt.

this topic has been covered a while back, click the link, its a pretty good read.

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=439940&pageNo=0

i know that juicing improves your game. period! and yes, thats from personal experience.

You show me a study where it is proven that the use of AAS has improved the hand-eye coordination of an athlete, and I’ll kiss your ass.

With out his ability to see the ball and react quicker than the average bear, Bonds is just another big ball player, and would have probably retired by now.

Going from 6’2" and 200lbs to 225lbs is called eating some sandwiches. Hell, 225 is thin for 6’2" unless you’re shredded, and Barry is in no way shredded. To me, it looks more like he got fat and put on muscle at the same time. There is a HUGE difference between putting on 25lbs with a bit of it being muscle and putting on 25lbs of muscle.

We have a natural 41 year old at our gym who just squatted 1000lbs in training at a bodyweight of 275 - and his body fat percentage is similar to that of Bonds’. The fact that people blame his size and strength on steroids is hilarious.

It is more likely that Bonds used for the reasons the original poster mentioned - recovery and human nature.

[quote]rainjack wrote:
You show me a study where it is proven that the use of AAS has improved the hand-eye coordination of an athlete, and I’ll kiss your ass.

With out his ability to see the ball and react quicker than the average bear, Bonds is just another big ball player, and would have probably retired by now. [/quote]

and would you please explain to me the fundamental logic behind that blanket statement? its TRUE that it will not improve your hand eye coordination, no argument there…but do you really think that all the physical benefits that AAS provides an athlete can not greatly enhance the mind-muscle link, simply by making the body able to respond the minds’ stimulus/reactions with greater speed and power. but i guess those factors have no effect because its all “hand eye co-ordination” right? laughable! there are many more variables to consider besides the old cop out “hand-eye” argument…mental AND physical variables which are very synergistic.

to clarify…in the “hand-eye” perspective…it enhances the “hand” element of that duo.

What I meant was - If Bonds hadn’t already posessed a highly above-average hand-eye coordination, the use of AAS would have done nothing to make him a better, more powerful hitter.

The use of AAS may have helped him develop a more powerful swing, but it has little affect on his slugging % - or his ability to make contact with a pitch.

If that were not the case, then Ron Coleman should be able to get out there and hit 80 or 90 homers since he is on way more juice than Barry has ever allegedly used.

Maybe he was taking Spike? That seems to improve hand eye coordination for me – maybe not directly, but it still has an effect, probaby like steroids.

hand-eye" is both a mental AND physical attribute. an athlete can improve the execution of the mental through enhancing the physical. so technically it has improved his “hand-eye coordination”…i feel like i’m taking crazy pills! does no one else see this synergistic relationship?

[quote]juice20jd wrote:
hand-eye" is both a mental AND physical attribute. an athlete can improve the execution of the mental through enhancing the physical. so technically it has improved his “hand-eye coordination”…i feel like i’m taking crazy pills! does no one else see this synergistic relationship?[/quote]

I understand what you are saying. I just disagree with you on AAS affect on hand-eye coordination.

[quote]rainjack wrote:
I understand what you are saying. I just disagree with you on AAS affect on hand-eye coordination.
[/quote]

the AAS does not directly affect mental attributes…just popping some d-bols with your wheatie’s isn’t going to directly affect your ability to recognize/read pitches. however, the AAS allows an athlete to enhance his physical attributes, which do have a direct relationship with his mental abilities. the AAS on its own does not directly affect hand eye coordination, but the physical benefits gained through AAS use and proper training do on the physical side of the spectrum.

to drastically oversimplify, a hitter must see the pitch, recognize the spin/rotation, determine its location compared to the strike zone and determine whether or not to swing…all within a fraction of a second. with enhanced physical attributes, said hitter would be able to execute the reactions commanded by the mind at an accelerated rate with greater power.

all i’m saying is that the “hand” facilitates the “eye”. and AAS use can help the “hand”. agreeable?

Jesus christ! If you’re stronger you can swing faster. How fucking hard is that to understand?

[quote]Jay Sherman wrote:
Jesus christ! If you’re stronger you can swing faster. How fucking hard is that to understand?[/quote]

LMAO. Agreed. The distance of a hit is a direct product of bat speed (and making good contact, obviously).

Look, I have no doubts that Barry Bonds further refined his swing and all, but he is what I wonder and I am hoping someone else has seen this about Bonds. I read somewhere that the equipment manager of the Giants said that Bonds went up 2 hat sizes during his time with the Giants. First off, I have no idea if this is true, but if it was, is there anything at all that would show that is related to AAS use? Just curious. I honestly have no idea.

But if you have not seen this link before, it is worth a look: http://espn.go.com/mlb/gallery/19379070.html

It is a year-by-year picture gallery of Bonds over his career along with his stats during that period. From 1999 to 2001, he blows up in comparison to the years before (as do his numbers).

Kuz

Check out the difference in Shaq’s head size between his last year in college and now.

[quote]Jay Sherman wrote:
Jesus christ! If you’re stronger you can swing faster. How fucking hard is that to understand?[/quote]

Then why the fuck isn’t Arnold the Home Run King? Why hasn’t Ron Coleman won the Triple Fucking Crown? How many dingers has Dave Tate had? It ain’t all about the strength.

I’m waiting for just one of you know-it-all motherfuckers to come up with some goddamn proof that AAS increases hand-eye coordination.