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Friday, November 16, 2007

Baseball must now erase Barry Bonds from the record books

When is a new home-run record not a new home-run record?

Perhaps when the new home-run king is indicted for lying to the feds about steroid use, and there's a drug test that backs them up. In short, an unprecedented mess awaits Barry Bonds and, especially, baseball commissioner Bud Selig. The big question Selig is going to face is simple: Does he erase the new (allegedly steroid-enhanced) home-run "record" that Bonds set last year from the record books?

Baseball has never seen anything like this before. When "Shoeless" Joe Jackson was given a lifetime ban from baseball for the Black Sox scandal after the 1920 season, his batting records were left intact. When Pete Rose was given a lifetime ban for gambling, it didn't affect his batting records. In neither case was there a cause and effect.

But with Bonds, it's very different. His alleged crime directly affected the records he set. Take Marion Jones, the Olympic gold medalist who confessed in October that she took steroids provided by BALCO, the same outfit that allegedly provided them to Bonds.

Like Bonds, she said she initially thought she was taking flaxseed oil. After Jones' confession (she pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal investigators), she gave up the five medals she received at the 2000 Games in Sydney. The International Olympic Committee is expected to formally strip her of the medals prior to her sentencing in January.

Selig may have no other alternative than to "strip" Bonds of the records he's set with the apparent use of illegal substances. How can anyone honor a home-run record set by a guy who was demonstrably bulked up on steroids?

The baseball commissioner has never been one to take bold measures. But in this case, he may have no other alternative. The home-run record Bonds set last year is now tainted. And Selig must take the lead of the Olympic committee and wipe Bonds' stained stats from the record books.

Hank Aaron, home-run king. It has a nice ring to it. It has an honest ring to it. And to get out of this mess, baseball has got to rediscover its integrity.

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