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Apology Accepted 

You may be an unwitting Barry Bonds apologist. Take our quiz and find out!

Wednesday, Mar 24 2004
He's the least likable superstar in sports! The grouchiest home-run hitter in history! The man who makes President Bush look like a media-management expert during times of scandal! Yes, he's San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, and as every local baseball fan knows, his name has surfaced in the federal investigation of an alleged steroid-distribution ring run out of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, or BALCO. Since he appeared before a San Francisco grand jury in December, Bonds -- who, when he's not snarling at the media, remains on pace to break Hank Aaron's all-time record for home runs -- has been the subject of endless speculation and debate, and the steroid issue has all but overshadowed the other story lines of spring. Though the groundswell of public opinion is pushing Major League Baseball to act against steroids, Bonds' budding legacy has largely gone untarnished and most tough questions have not been asked. Indeed, the majority of fans, media, and baseball officials seem willing to overlook yet another unsightly aspect of Bonds' character simply because he hits the ball out of the park.

Are you a Barry Bonds apologist? Take the Dog Bites quiz and find out!

1) With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Bonds comes to bat at SBC Park. He belts the first pitch he sees deep into the right-field seats. As No. 25 lingers at home plate to admire the towering 500-foot blast, you:

a) Remain glued to your seat, lamenting softly to your friends that your enjoyment of Bonds' heroics will be forever dampened because of the steroid question.

b) Stand and clap, politely saluting the ballplayer who has just won the game with a dramatic grand slam.

c) Rise as one with the crowd, whipping your Giants cap over your head, and scream through an orange-colored bullhorn: "Does it look like he needs steroids? I don't think so!"

2) You describe yourself as a:

a) Baseball fan.

b) Giants fan.

c) Barry Bonds fan (add two extra points if you're Willie Mays).

3) In a front-page story on March 2, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that, according to information given to federal investigators, Barry Bonds received steroids and human growth hormone from his personal trainer and longtime friend, Greg Anderson, who obtained them through BALCO, the nutritional supplements lab at the center of the government's investigation into a steroid-distribution ring. You read the revelations and think to yourself:

a) "Well, we will probably never know the whole truth, but this is the clearest sign yet that Bonds may have taken steroids. It certainly creates doubt in my mind about Bonds' achievements."

b) "Well, we may never know the whole truth, but the one thing we must avoid, at all costs, is speculation. Besides, why would Bonds want to take steroids?"

c) "Well, of course he received steroids. I mean, how do you know to avoid them unless you know what they look like?"

4) Your daughter is a budding sports enthusiast, and plays softball in a grade-school league. As you drive her to practice one afternoon, she tells you that some of her teammates have been teasing her because she wears No. 25 in honor of her favorite player, Bonds. They accuse her of admiring a "cheater." What do you tell her?

a) "Honey, Barry Bonds is a human like anyone else, and there are legitimate questions about whether he and other superstars are following the rules of fair play. It's good to have role models and people you look up to, but it's equally important to be honest with yourself about their fallibility and flaws. In fact, that might be the most valuable lesson heroes can teach."

b) "Hey, look at Kobe Bryant. Now there's an asshole."

c) "Your friends are saying what? I want names. Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player who ever lived -- just ask the life-size cutout in the rec room."

5) What's the best way to fix baseball's steroid problem?

a) Bust the superstars who are using. If baseball is serious about ensuring fairness and protecting its future, it needs to send a message that it will punish even its most beloved and iconic offenders.

b) The owners and the players' association must strengthen baseball's anti-steroid policies and grant oversight to an independent, third-party testing agency.

c) Legalize 'em!

6) It's a mild summer evening at SBC Park. You're hoping for a laid-back dose of the national pastime, but a nearby fan in a Dodgers cap won't be dissuaded from screaming taunts at Bonds. Even when the aging left-fielder slaps a double into the gap, the Dodgers fan leaps to his feet and yells, "Let's see you hit without the elbow guard!" You turn around and respond thusly:

a) "Tell me about it. As if Bonds needs another unfair advantage. And didn't he used to struggle with inside pitching?"

b) "Pipe down, sir. The protective guard is approved by Major League Baseball, and several other players wear similar shields."

c) "Stuff it, Lasorda! When you make $16 million a year and talk to God after home runs, you can wear whatever you want."

7) After declining to comment on steroid questions and shooing reporters away from his locker at the Giants' spring-training facility in Mesa, Ariz., Bonds -- according to several news accounts -- raises his fist and says, "Black power." Your reaction:

a) What a jackass. It's not just Bonds, and not just black players, who are under suspicion. The very idea that a millionaire baseball player would make this a racial issue demeans those who have truly fought for justice and equality.

b) I'm not sure how valid his accusations of racism are, but Bonds is under a lot of pressure and scrutiny. If he thinks he's being unfairly singled out because he's black, he has the right to voice that opinion.

c) Right on, brother Barry! As-Salaam Alaykum!

8) You're browsing in a baseball memorabilia shop one afternoon, and you spot a Bonds rookie card from 1986 -- when he weighed about 185 pounds in his Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. Startled by how slim and diminutive the younger slugger appears, you conclude:

a) The wiry 21-year-old and 225-pound 39-year-old look like two different people. No workout regimen alone could account for the change in Bonds.

b) As people grow older, their appearance changes. Maybe Bonds has morphed a bit more than most, but increased muscle mass and better endurance hardly sounds like the work of steroids, does it?

c) Fifty dollars for a Bonds rookie card? Where's my checkbook?

9) Which of these quotations from Major League Baseball personalities best speaks to your attitude toward Bonds' possible steroid use?

a) Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Turk Wendell to the Denver Post: "If my personal trainer, me, Turk Wendell, got indicted for that, there's no one in the world who wouldn't think that I wasn't taking steroids. I mean, what, because he's Barry Bonds, no one's going to say that? I mean, obviously he did it. ... It's clear just seeing his body."

b) Former Giants manager and current Cubs manager Dusty Baker, to reporters at spring training: "It's like McCarthyism. They are looking for someone who looks like a communist. I'll probably get in trouble for saying that, too. You know -- he lost weight, he gained weight ... I don't know."

c) Barry Bonds to Muscle and Fitness Magazine in June 2003: "I visit BALCO every three to six months. They check my blood to make sure my levels are where they should be. Maybe I need to eat more broccoli than I normally do. Maybe my zinc and magnesium intakes need to increase, and I need more ZMA. Nobody ever showed it to me in a scientific way before, how important it is to balance your body. I have that knowledge now. ... I'm just shocked by what they've been able to do for me."

10) Driving home one evening, listening to a sports talk-radio show in which the host invites listeners to call the station and weigh in on whether Barry Bonds is taking steroids, you pull over to the side of the road, dial the radio station on your cell phone, and say:

a) "He's juiced."

b) "In this country, we're innocent until proven guilty. Without knowing all the facts, we can't possibly judge Bonds' culpability, and we shouldn't draw conclusions about his past performance."

c) "Dude, Bonds was always considered a home-run hitter -- just because he jumped from a career high of 49 to a record-setting 73 the next year doesn't prove anything, except that the media is out to get him. Real Americans want to forgive. Besides, the focus should be on the field, not on ensuring the everlasting integrity of our national pastime."

How to score:

Score 0 points for every "a" answer, 1 point for every "b," and 2 points for every "c."

9 points or fewer: What, you don't like Barry Bonds? Are you a Marxist or something?

10-15 points: Great job! Um, what are you doing this summer? Do you think you could hit behind Barry?

16-20 points: Congratulations! You're the new host of a talk show on KNBR!


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