Bonds is no Roger Maris

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CLEARWATER, Fla.–Barry Bonds is a great baseball player, one of the greatest of all time. He is a slugger for the ages. Until recently, he was a sure bet for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Barry Bonds, however, is an alleged cheater. He denies it and says he hasn't used performance-enhancing drugs. But the contrary evidence is getting stronger.

Wouldn't you know that this year's spring training would be marred by still another fiasco about drugs?

A new book, Game of Shadows, reports that Bonds took performance-enhancing drugs because of his jealousy of Mark McGwire. The latter broke the single-season home run record of Roger Maris but is now in baseball's doghouse for his own cheating.

Talk to experienced baseball people here and you get a variety of answers to questions about what to do about Bonds and his records.

One response from a former player, manager, and general manager is that Bonds should be allowed to retain his current records but should not be permitted to eclipse the 755-homer mark established by Hank Aaron.

Another view is that Bonds broke no law and was within the rules at the time. Thus, he should continue his career without punishment.

Then there is the "everyone does it" excuse by a few who see nothing wrong.

What to do? Commissioner Bud Selig has the situation under review. If the past is any standard, Selig will delay and delay. He does not like to make sticky decisions.

My own view is that the 41-year-old Bonds, a mercurial and temperamental player, should not be given any record–if the charges are true. Granted, they may never be proved, but let's be realistic.

Who can forget the memory of the lithe speedster named Barry Bonds who started his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates? Now, he is a changed man with a huge chest and bulging biceps. Weightlifting couldn't do all of it.

A personal note: In the late 1940s, I was an American Legion and amateur baseball pitcher in Fargo, N.D. I pitched batting practice now and then to the Fargo Legion team. Our right fielder was named Roger Maris.

In his career, Roger's biggest sins were coffee, cigarettes and beer. He did nothing to enhance his body.

In my book, he stands much taller than Barry Bonds.