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Reputation remains Bonds' ally, nemesis

April 18, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Reputation is a double-edged sword.

Own a good one and you don't have to kiss any babies if you run for office.

Get saddled with a bad rep and time stands still, like watching a War and Peace and The Ten Commandments double feature.

Right about now, Barry Bonds' image has a reputation that cuts both ways.

His ability to hit a baseball keeps him a nightly fixture in sportscasts and sports pages as he chases first Babe Ruth, then Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list.

How Bonds refined that ability to hit baseballs is also an ongoing discussion in the same forums.

Is that power to punish pitches like some blondes in this world?

You know, the highlights came out of a bottle.

Bonds has yet to hit a home run through the first two weeks of the season. His reputation is his speed bump and crutch all at the same time in his run at history.

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Because of his past, many overly concerned managers still walk Bonds any time he comes up to home plate with runners on base. Atlanta's Bobby Cox took the bat out of Bonds' hands for the majority of their recent series by making the strike zone the width of a paper cut and punching a one-way ticket to first base.

Bonds strolled so much, he should have an MS Walkathon sponsor.

Yet, that same reputation is covering up what might be the beginning of his end.

Bonds is reaching and trying to hit home runs while he can, yet those swings that used to provide prolific shots are only sending the ball on journies to warning tracks now.

Blame it on the weather. Question the health of his knee and the bone chips in his elbow. But you have to wonder.

With all the steroid pressure being applied, has Bonds become the West Coast's and 2006's version of Sammy Sosa?

Hmmmm.

While his reputation keeps Bonds' dream alive, it is also starting what is becoming his nightmare.

First rumors, then testimony and finally a book says Bonds did take steroids to inflate his home run numbers. And now, baseball and the justice system is questioning his honesty.

That definitely leads to reputation repercussions.

There are more probes surrounding Bonds than there are at NASA. The justice system, the government and baseball are all poking around trying to figure out what is more inflated - Bonds' muscle mass or the price of a gallon of gas.

Believe it or not, both problems are considered detriments to the U.S.

What gas prices do is obvious, but Bonds, well, his follies tear into everything about sports that fans believe in. The numbers are sacred, just like mph readings.

What happens to Bonds' reputation over the next few months may be the only thing that saves baseball's image.

While Bonds' steroids story and the probes surrounding it stay in the forefront, baseball will try to move itself offstage to save face. The public relations machine will be looking for anything and everything newsworthy that helps take some of the glare off of Bonds.

It won't be to help Bonds - he will be in this by himself. It will be to keep the game from falling into a mudbog.

And a resolution, especially if it is made by someone else, is the best thing for baseball.

If Bonds comes through the accusations unscathed, baseball still has the pursuit of all-time home run records to tout. It can rip the asterisk key off of the laptops and keep Bonds among the all-time greats.

But if it all goes the other way, baseball has an equally viable out. Bonds will be gone, and meanwhile, Ruth and Aaron remain the unquestioned icons of the game.

Reputation revived.

As for Bonds, it will become a case of reputation resiliency.

It is a matter of if he will be remembered as one of the sport's all-time greats or one of its all-time villains for the rest of time.

No matter how you slice it, the final round of Barry Bonds' career might be cut to the quick.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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