A final word on Barry: Fraud

Finally, the farce of Barry Bonds' ascent to the top of Major League Baseball's all-time home run crown is over. Let's hope we can now get on with stripping him of the record.

The fraudulent celebration was akin to a obligatory Thanksgiving dinner with Uncle Marv. Bonds feigned sincerity while the emptiness of this moment played like discordant notes on an out-of-tune piano.

Bonds, by all accounts, is a cheat not a champ. In this case, statistics don't lie.

Baseball is a century of statistics. No other game cherishes, chronicles and wallows in the statistical measurements of its athletes.

Over the century, the statistics, like a gigantic bell curve, have maintained a delightful consistency.

While statistics and players evolved and shifted from higher pitching mounds to the dead ball era, into shrinking ballparks and so-called juiced balls, the sport maintained a decided consistency.

Then steroids, human growth hormone and an era so tarnished that nearly a century of consistency lie in frenetic tatters. At the center of it all is Barry Bonds.

Aside from the mountainous piles of evidence that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs, the statistics show the fraud in a way baseball fans can understand.

Long before the rise of steroids, Bonds drew comparisons to the best outfielders of all time. His career statistics show a similarity to two of the greatest to ever play the game, Willie Mays and Ted Williams.

Williams began his career at 21. Mays 20. Bonds 22.

Each started quickly posting overall batting statistics that revealed their extraordinary talent.

Mays was the most prolific home run hitter of the three, twice hitting more than 50 home runs, a feat neither Bonds nor Williams accomplished in their prime.

Bonds started the slowest as a power hitter, hitting more than 30 home runs in only his fifth season. Williams' numbers rarely varied from season to season, though twice military service sidelined him, chopping five years from his prime.

Yet the numbers of these three of the game's all-time best at the age of 35 are remarkably similar for their greatness. Each reached statistical achievements rarely attained. If you factor Williams' career average for his five lost seasons, he would have had roughly 473 home runs at the age of 35. In reality he had 324, but his season averages nearly match Bonds and Mays. Mays led the group at age 35, having hit 564 home runs by then. Bonds, who was widely recognized as the best in the game, had 445 career homers.

Bonds turned 35 in 1999, now known as the height of the steroid era.

Here the statistics reveal the fraud. From the ages of 35 to 40, a time when nearly every single athlete in American sports for more than 100 years has seen a gradual or rapid diminishment of their physical skills, Bonds discovered a fountain of youth far better than the numbers of his actual prime.

Mays' diminishment was already apparent, dropping from 52 homers at the age of 33 to 37 homers the next year to 22 homers at 35. He never again hit more than 30 home runs in a season, finishing at 660, the second-highest total in the history of baseball at the time of his retirement.

Williams showed no great decline in these years, still producing with the same remarkable consistency that he had throughout his entire career. He hit 38 home runs at the age of 40 and finished with 521 home runs. Factor in his career average for the five war years and Williams would have ended with a Willie Mays-like 670 home runs.

And then there was Bonds, who not only didn't decline, he posted numbers never seen before, nor dreamed of by an athlete over the age of 35. He hit in consecutive years, 49 home runs (at that time his highest personal total ever), 73 (a number so outlandish it defied 100 years of baseball history) 46, 45 and another 45 at the age of 40. Over the ages of 35 to 40, Mays hit 82 home runs, Williams 132 and Bonds, a statistical-defying 258 home runs.

Bonds' fountain of youth came in a BALCO lab. No other explanation exists. As scientists would say, it is statistically unreliable. Had Bonds hit his career average for those five years, never mind the typical decline that comes with age and injury, Bonds would now stand somewhere near 610 home runs. This would remain among the best career performances ever, placing him as one of only four men to hit more than 600 without the likely aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

But he most likely did enjoy the aid of drugs. And today he is not revered for his greatness but rounds the bases as the Emperor of Home Runs, a mockery with no clothes, known as a the best cheater in a tainted era of cheats.

Now that the fraud is over, baseball must act quickly to restore its statistical purity. Name names. Toss out the records, starting with the Nos. 73 and 757 or whatever Bonds ends up with. Strike Mssrs. McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa and any other frauds from the books. Banish them from the Hall of Fame.

The statistical truths demand it.

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