Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 03.15.06


'Roid Rage

Sox fans throughout New England thought they had been kicked in the stomach when centerfielding, clutch-hitting Johnny Damon jumped ship and joined the dreaded Yankees.

How could things get worse?

Well, if the Bush administration has taught us one thing it's that things can always get worse.

Damon's Benedict Arnold act has been relegated to the back burner in favor of the steroid scandal. Steroid use in baseball has proved to be far more pervasive and will affect the game in more ways than just shrunken testicles and bad complexions. It is clear that the entire game of baseball has been permanently stained.

If you have read the Sports Illustrated article on Barry Bonds and his serial steroid use you know that he will soon become the most reviled superstar in sports history. Soon he will pass the Babe's homerun record on his way to Hank Aaron's magic number of 755.

I hope he's not expecting a big cake and party hats when that happens.

The SI article not only proved beyond any doubt that Bonds used a pharmacy full of steroids but he is a pig of a person to boot.

We already knew that he didn't talk to fans or reporters but this article showed that he was abusive to just about everyone in his life, from his trainers to his girlfriend.

Now the fans are howling for Bond's blood and demanding that commissioner Bud Selig do something to get rid of him. The real criminal here is not Bonds. Bonds is just a low-rent creep who did what everyone else was doing.

He saw Sosa and McGwire getting all the glory with their home run race while Bonds, a more complete and valuable player, was relegated to an afterthought.

Selig can't throw Bonds out of baseball for breaking a rule that didn't exist during his record-shattering home-run frenzy. He can't put an asterisk beside his records either.

How many other records were broken under the influence of anabolic steroids? Probably all of them in the 90s and early 2000s.

Baseball turned a blind eye to the abuse because the home run hitters were putting fans in the seats and how could that be bad?

Cheaters have used drugs in sports for as long as there have been drugs (and sports). At the height of the cold war the USA would do anything to beat those commie Roosian bastards.

We were amateurs compared to the East Germans and the Russian track team. My personal favorite scandal and one that I can remember clearly involved two sisters -- Irina and Tamara Press.

These two hefty debutantes were Olympic gold medal winners in the pre-gender-testing Olympic games. They may well have been men posing as women or they may have been women pumped full of male hormones.

Either way, they were never seen again after gender testing was instituted as a requirement for female Olympic athletes.

East Germany perfected steroid use during their Olympic reign of terror. Their female swimmers were the most revealing. They had classic V-shaped upper bodies covered in anabolic zits and swam away with most of the gold in the pool. Cheaters? Yes. But no asterisks appear in the record books.

Eventually Bonds will pay for his sins. If popularity was his goal he has already blown that. He'll get to keep his records just like all the other cheaters but he'll never go to the Hall of Fame.

That's going to be the invisible asterisk that will define his career.