Bonds must be loving the company

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

Do you get the impression that somewhere Barry Bonds is smiling?

Like he enjoys having some company, rather than being the flag carrier for all that is wrong with baseball.

But in the wake of the Mitchell Report, what seems ever startling are the unlikely and unusual comparisons between Bonds' success and that of Roger Clemens, with whom he now shares the stage of ignomy.

Between the ages of 30 and 34, often when an athlete is at his peak, Bonds hit 189 home runs (one every 13.2 at bats) and Clemens won 58 games and lost 50.

But between the ages of 35 and 39 -- a time when most athletes are in decline -- Bonds hit 247 home runs (one every 8.5 at bats) and Clemens posted a 81-33 won-loss record.

Clemens was even more prolific after the age of 40 than he was in his early 30s, which just isn't normal. He went 61-33 in his 40s, or 142-66 in the period he is linked with steroids.

Bonds hit 351 home runs after his 35th birthday and 104 of those (one every 10.7 at bats) after turning 40.

The numbers, of course, are open to interpretation. My interpretation is Bonds and Clemens are Exhibit A and B on players with Hall of Fame numbers, just not Hall of Fame credentials.

THIS AND THAT

Big week for rats in and out of sports: A rat coach in Atlanta. A rat equipment manager in New York. A rat personal trainer. And a rat did in Conrad Black ... Not all web sites are nasty: There is a votenikantropov.com site, asking fans to vote Nik Antropov for the NHL all-star game. This is an apparent upgrade over firejohnferguson.com. The big, slow Kazakh, for the record, had more goals than Sidney Crosby and more assists than Alex Ovechkin before last night's games ... Upon first glance, you would think our pal Brian Burke had lost his mind for trading Andy McDonald for Doug Weight. But NHL trades are now like NBA trades. Expiring contracts such as Weight's are more valuable than a player who was done two years ago ... Bobby Holik didn't like it a bit when Alexei Ponikarovsky suggested he cheap-shotted him Friday night in Atlanta. "Every time there is a hit these days, everybody has questions," Holik said. "I don't think anybody knows what to call anymore. We want hitting in the game but nobody knows what kind of hitting we want. We don't know. The referees don't know. Nobody seems to know."

HEAR AND THERE

John Ferguson couldn't have dealt for Vesa Toskala without taking Mark Bell in the deal. Toskala is beginning to show his stuff. Bell is beginning to show why San Jose insisted someone pick up the $4 million left on two years of his contract ... If he ends up as owner of the Edmonton Oilers, Daryl Katz won't have any trouble paying the bills. According to Canadian Business magazine, he's the 15th wealthiest man in Canada. For the record, Ted Rogers (Blue Jays) is No. 2, Jim Balsillie is No. 9 (a good hockey number), Ron Southern of Spruce Meadows fame is No. 47, Larry Tanenbaum (MLSEL) is No. 60 and Eugene Melnyk (Senators) is No. 70 ... Howie Clark on steroids? We demand a recount ... True story: When Joe Torre was hired to manage the New York Yankees, one of the first people fired by the Yankees was steroid rat Brian McNamee ... The NHL can boast all it wants about there not being a steroid problem in the sport but if they don't test for human growth hormones in a sport where the players are rapidly gaining size, they are, as some say, talking out their backsides.

SCENE AND HEARD

Sam Mitchell likes to come across as unemotional, hard-edged, caustic and uncaring. And that's just in his post-game interviews. But his cover was blown when T.J. Ford crashed to the court in Atlanta Monday night. Mitchell showed a human, caring, emotional, father-like side of himself. It was a side the public needed to see ... Ilya Kovalchuk is crazy explosive and fun to watch but the old guy, Mats Sundin, is so much more a complete player that the comparison isn't fair ... Went to two Thrashers games and one Hawks game in Atlanta and saw half-empty buildings at all three. Don't know how these franchises stay afloat ... If the players were half as inconsistent as J.P. Ricciardi's thought process, he would fire them all. One year he's into moneyball. One year he's into defence. One year he's into pitching. One year he's into on-base percentage. He's like the Music Man. Who can keep track? ... Jamario Moon needs to use his massive athletic talent to get to the free-throw line more often. If he starts doing that, he becomes a big-time player.

AND ANOTHER THING

Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien -- my coach of the half year in the NHL -- is upset by critics who are taking shots at Boston's defensive style. "In every other sport, defence is applauded. If you play good defence you win. Why is it suddenly criminal to play good defence in hockey? In every sport, you play good defence, it enables your offence." ... At what point in time do we start worrying about Andrea Bargnani? The Raptors' worrying apparently has begun ... Rumours are abound that some teams are interested in Andrew Raycroft ... Josh Towers is a terrific guy who stretched his limited talent about as far as it would take him. Releasing him was the right thing to do ... For the record, new Blue Jay David Eckstein, once voted to the Jewish all-American team, is Catholic ... The Major League Players' Association did a wonderful job of protecting the guilty but a terrible job in looking out for the innocent when it came to its lack of cooperation with the Mitchell investigators ... Give Kirk Radomski credit for this much: He kept immaculate records of cancelled cheques and courier receipts ... Just wondering: Is this it for Gregg Zaun's broadcasting career? And hey, whatever became of Bishop Dolegiewicz?


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