Love/hate Barry

Spring has finally arrived; with it comes baseball.

I’ve always been a basketball fan myself—much more devoted to watching the NBA finals in April and May than gearing up for baseball’s opening games. But a lot seems to be going on with the all-American pastime this year. Most notably, Barry Bonds.

First off, of course, we have Bonds’ rush to break Babe Ruth’s career home-run record. The inevitable toppling has press camped out around the clock on Bonds, who, famously, can’t think of anything he enjoys less than a bunch of media people hounding him.

Next, of course, we have the steroids.

As everybody knows, Bonds has become the poster boy for the steroid scandal in baseball, despite his consistent denials that he’s used them. Two San Francisco Chronicle staffers just wrote a book, Game of Shadows, which claims Bonds used steroids for years. Meanwhile, Bonds is suddenly the key target of a federal investigation into that drug’s widespread use in major-league baseball.

Of course, there are layers that make all this even thornier. One is race. It’s hard to disagree with people who think race has played a role in why Bonds’ attackers have been so relentless. After all, no probe was ever launched on white slugger Mark McGwire, who in 1998 took the single-season home-run record, despite widespread acknowledgement that he likely bulked out using steroids.

All this leads us to Donnell Alexander.

An alternative journalist (at the News & Review and LA Weekly) who went on to work for ESPN The Magazine, Alexander came awfully close, in 2002, to being the one to ghost-write Bonds’ autobiography. In fact, a million-dollar pact was nearly made (until it was utterly unmade) between Bonds, Alexander and Simon & Schuster.

Now Alexander is here to tell the story of what he came to know about Barry Bonds—his dad and his demons—thanks to the rise and fall of this onetime book deal. Agree or disagree with Alexander’s perspective. But know you won’t find it anywhere but here.