Steroid suspicions skew comparisons

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

There really isn't much debate that without the steroid issue hanging over his head, Barry Bonds would be considered among the game's greatest.

However, because of mounting evidence linking the 42-year-old's resurgence to cutting edge performance-enhancers, the ugly reality is few can now be convinced his 73 home-run season was a natural phenomenon.

"After that season and what he'd done in the '90s, it'd be tough not to say Barry Bonds," said former Stamps and Kansas City Chiefs receiver Marc Boerigter, agreeing with notable baseball publications that put Bonds alongside Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Willie Mays among the game's greatest.

"But that was before his head grew about eight sizes. The drug scandal messes all that up. Before that, people thought he'd be best of all time."

While baseball players have long looked for competitive edges via corked bats, emery boards, nail files or the ol' spit ball, nothing has threatened the integrity of the sport or its players like steroids have of late.

Although Major League Baseball recently implemented a loose drug-testing policy, it's clear the unnatural bulking up of players represents the biggest technological change in a sport largely untouched over the eras.

With drugs available that are virtually undetectable , it's hard to know whose recent home-run binge is legit and whose isn't.

In the past, such blips could be accounted for by the juiced-up balls, which Ruth and most others never got to hit.

Nowadays designer steroids not only help with home-run totals but can also help with stolen bases, higher velocity on pitches and increased bat speed.

Naturally or not, the athletes today are bigger, stronger and faster, making it tough to say how Ruth would fare in today's game.

That said, we know one thing --Bonds would have excelled in Ruth's game, with or without steroids.


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