How Pumped Up is Baseball?

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Bonds, who told a grand jury he'd used substances he did not know to be steroids, hit his 700th career home run last September

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Bonds has always been an All-Star player, but his power numbers, as well as his physique, didn't balloon until he turned 36. A year later, in 2001, he hit 73 homers, breaking the single-season record of 70. Before he began working out with Anderson in 1998, he hit one home run in every 16.1 at bats. Since 2001, he has hit a dinger in every 7.9 at bats. This past season, at age 40, he remained a feared hitter, belting 45 homers. Pitchers and managers got so gun-shy that Bonds walked a record 232 times. He won his seventh Most Valuable Player award last month.

Giambi's numbers are by no means as legendary, but the progress of players like him has inflamed the steroid debate. He hit 33 homers in 1999 and by 2002 was going long 41 times with the Yankees. He says he met Anderson while he and Bonds were on a postseason tour of Japan in 2002. "So I started to ask him, 'Hey, what are the things you're doing with Barry? He's an incredible player. I want to still be able to work out at that age and keep playing,'" Giambi testified, according to the Chronicle. "And that's how the conversation first started." Buster Olney, a baseball writer for ESPN the Magazine who has a vote in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame elections, calls Giambi's court appearance the "Mount Everest of steroids and baseball testimony. Nothing else is going to come close to it."

The 2004 season was not kind to Giambi, 33. He had obviously lost weight when he reported to Yankees preseason camp in February, and by July he had lost bat speed and 65 points against his .302 career average. He lost the month of August to a mysterious ailment that was later diagnosed as a benign tumor. (The tumor, which the New York Daily News reported was near his pituitary gland, could be linked to Clomid, a women's fertility drug that boosts testosterone production and that Giambi has admitted he might have used.) And last week it seemed possible he could lose his job, worth $82 million over the next five years, as a first baseman for the Bronx Bombers. Giambi was granted immunity for his testimony, so he won't be charged with any crimes as long as he was truthful. The New York City tabloids have nonetheless pronounced him guilty (BOOT THE BUM; DAMNED YANKEE) of conduct unbecoming a Pinstriper. The Yankees would love to unload him if they could prove that he violated his contract.

Bonds, in the meantime, will get back to the gym. Like most players who enjoy an extended career, he has exemplary work habits. And unlike many players, he has extraordinary talent, whatever the taint of the BALCO boys. But in a sport that treats its statistics with almost biblical deference, the Bonds record has been permanently tarnished and won't sail cleanly into the history books.

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