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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Weight-ing For Barry

I remember when I hit my growth spurt. I was about 12 or 13. When I got to sixth grade, I was a 4-11 nerd who wore sweatpants and ugly striped shirts to school every day. Three years later, I graduated from middle school as eight more inches of nerd. But at least I dressed better.

Those were the days. I used to be able to dominate in basketball - I'd just stand under the hoop and shoot, miss a layup, grab my own rebound, shoot, miss again, rebound again, shoot, miss again, rebound again, and then eventually I'd succeed on a putback. Kind of like Shaq. Then I showed up in high school, and suddenly I found that just about all my friends were taller than me. The days of endless rebounds are long gone, and now I'm worthless at basketball - I'm a 5-10 white boy with no outside shot and a slow reaction time.

So where was I again? Oh yes, the growth spurt. The point here is that the average male hits his growth spurt sometime around the age of 14. Some, like me, are deluded into thinking they're tall by hitting it a little earlier, and some, who delight their college basketball coaches, continue to grow even at their 20th birthday.

But I have never heard of anyone hitting his growth spurt at age 36. The only growing anyone does at age 36 is horizontally, and here I'm talking about Molson-fueled horizontal growth, not the Enzyte-propelled kind, 'cause that just ain't right.

That is why I find it incredibly hard to believe that Barry Bonds is not on the juice. He may not be on THG, and maybe you could even take him up on his offer and test him every day and he'd come up clean. But if you look at a picture of Bonds 10 years ago and compared it to a picture of him today, you'd have to agree with Turk Wendell and say that the proof lies in the pudding. And the pudding isn't 100 percent organic.

Let's get something straight here. Bonds is a tremendous hitter, 'roids or no 'roids. You don't hit over 600 bombs and put up the other numbers that Bonds has posted without immense talent. There's no supplement that helps you put the bat on the ball, and as Ted Williams once said, that's the hardest thing to do in all of sports. I also don't question Bonds's work ethic - clearly, he's in good shape if he's still producing the way he is at 38.

That being said, Bonds's weight has risen drastically during his playing career, and lifting can only take you so far given a certain body type. Am I saying he's on steroids? I don't know. Obviously, there's a chance that he really did bulk up naturally or using legal supplements. However, his weight increase has been so significant, and so late in his career, that the questions are inevitable.

He broke into the majors in 1986 weighing 185 pounds. Even as late as 1996, he checked in at 190. Then, at age 32, in '97, Bonds put on 16 pounds. Two years later, four more pounds. And then, before the 2001 season, when Bonds was 36 - 36, people! - he added another 18 pounds to his frame. Of course, we all know that in 2001 Bonds shattered Mark McGwire's home run record and hit 73 dingers.

Plenty of American males gain 43 pounds between age 21 and age 38. It just isn't in the biceps. So when Barry says that you can test him every day, it makes me think that he's found something that isn't illegal yet according to MLB, because it's just so hard to see someone put on that type of weight (and even his head looks bigger) and not think he's on steroids.

Bulking up has been beneficial to Bonds's home run numbers. Just check out the chart below.

It's clear that his power has come from his weight. The million-dollar question, then, is whether or not his weight has come from an insane workout regimen or salvation in a syringe. Bonds is the only one who can give you an answer with complete certainty. But with what else besides a denial could he possibly respond?


Barry Bonds
Career by playing weight

Seasons Weight HR/Year
2001-03 228 54.7
1999-00 210 41.5
1997-98 206 38.5
1992-96 190 38.4
1986-91 185 23.7



This simply designed chart is here to illustrate how Bonds's home run production has increased with his weight. And to show that I do something with my time at the research department at ESPN.

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