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If you know me at all, you know two simple things: Adrian Beltre is only worth owning during a contract year and second but most importantly, I HATE BARRY BONDS. I guess I hate him because of the obvious reasons that I share with many, he cheated. Using steroids and breaking baseball’s most prestigious record is a sin against the sport. However, as I was at the bookstore (seriously, I have no idea how I keep ending up at that place), my eyes passed over everything and one book caught my eye. There have been several books written about how Bonds is a cheater and used steroids to continue playing at top condition years after his prime. “Asterisk” takes on the other side of the issue. Oh my god, a book defending Barry Bonds.
Now, being who I am, I was very skeptical from the start. I figured that the book was just going to be 200+ pages of excuses and complete bull that would have me bored to death and in the end just wanting my money back. Then I became engrossed and it was only the introduction. This one passage sucked me in and set the tone for the rest of the book. After reading it, I realized that the author knew his stuff and was going to provide good evidence and not be full of hot air:
“If you’re Jose Canseco, you believe a player who hits 24 more home runs than he ever hit before must be using steroids, especially if he gained a lot of weight during the off-season. If you’re Turk Wendell, the steroid use was clear ‘just seeing his body.'” But the outfielder we have been talking about isn’t Barry Bonds, it’s George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth. Early in his career Babe Ruth weighed around 185 pounds. In his last year with the Red Sox (1919), he hit .322 and slugged 29 home runs. But he quickly went from that 185-pound toothpick to a very solid 225 pounds and that was in his prime, long before he swelled up to the 250 pound behemoth we see in some of the old photos. The new and larger babe, playing for the Yankees in 1920, hit an unprecedented 54 home runs while batting .376. Steroids? We know Ruth did a lot of crazy things, but not steroids.”
A big point that the author makes is that if you are like me, and you already have your mind made up about Bonds before examining all the evidence, then you are going to blame everything on steroids. This accurately describes me. Then I read the book. I am not saying that the book has converted me and has changed my mind and made me a Barry Bonds supporter. I will say that the book makes a lot of good points. It also takes shots at the most infamous book written on steroids, “Game of Shadows”, which I finished a few months ago. Reading “Game of Shadows” before you read this really helps you make comparisons and understand where Dave Ezra is coming from. Ezra is unbiased and presents the hard facts and statistical evidence that clearly explains his case and he does it without coming out and saying he loves Barry Bonds, and that is why he builds credibility with the reader. If he had stated he was a huge Bonds fan and supporter, then we would not spend time reading his book, but he doesn’t choose that path and he makes the book a good read.
If you are convinced Barry Bonds used steroids, read this book. It is going where other books have not gone before and that alone makes it worth picking up. Bonds is a horrible human being just based on his attitude and behavior towards others. “Asterisk” makes that point and tells clears examples. The book also tells us that you can’t let those preconceived notions get in your way of the hard facts about Bonds’s professional baseball career. It is a great read and it opens your eyes to the whole scandal.