- Cape student sues, accuses school officials of slamming her to ground multiple times (04/28/16)41
- Bob Evans restaurant in Cape Girardeau among chain's 21 closings (04/26/16)9
- Missouri House votes to allow concealed weapons without permits (04/28/16)6
- Two hurt in motorcycle wreck on Interstate 55 (04/25/16)1
- Law firm requests information about Cape's traffic cameras (04/25/16)2
- Local lawmakers split over failed medical marijuana bill; voters may have a say (04/26/16)19
- Police report filed, but no charges in incident at Cape Central (04/29/16)19
- Tanker truck catches fire near Oak Ridge (04/24/16)7
- Local company makes eco-friendly kitty litter that cuts cat-box smell (04/25/16)
- Senator introduces bill for I-57 that would connect Sikeston with Little Rock (04/28/16)4
Bonds is posterboy for sports in 2004
Barry Bonds is the perfect choice for Athlete of the Year.
Who else so exquisitely captured the essence of sports in 2004?
He got the most ink in newspapers, the most time on TV, his name linked to Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and the weasel at BALCO, Victor Conte.
Bonds is baseball's Mr. Muscles, Mr. Congeniality, Mr. Flaxseed Oil.
Ron Artest is a good candidate for the year's top athlete, too.
He gave everything he had on the court, in the stands and in the recording studio.
When you think sports in 2004, who better represents the commitment it takes to be a standout jerk?
Then again, there's plenty of competition.
We have Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, who showed such class as they sniped at each other. Bryant barely escaped a trial in the rape case in Colorado, though the civil lawsuit filed by his alleged victim continues, but none of that slowed down his shooting. Have to admire a player who goes from courthouse to court so effortlessly.
At the Olympics, the U.S. men's basketball team showed all the arrogance and selfishness so prized by the new generation of athletes.
In Athens, too, a couple of Greek sprinters put themselves in the running for top athletes by virtue of their creativity: faking a motorcycle accident to avoid drug testers.
And what about Marion Jones? Shouldn't she be considered for either top female athlete or best actress?
The votes for the Associated Press Athlete of the Year are still coming in and the results will be announced on Dec. 29. In alphabetical order, Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong heads the men's list. Maybe he'll win it again, but he'll have to do it without anything more than an unsubstantiated report that he has cheated with banned performance enhancers.
Armstrong doesn't have any grand jury testimony going for him, like Bonds, Jones and Jason Giambi.
More boring choices include Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Vijay Singh, Kurt Busch, Roger Federer and Michael Phelps on the men's side; Annika Sorenstam, Maria Sharapova, Diana Taurasi and Lisa Fernandez among the women.
All they did was win, sans scandals, with routinely dazzling or courageous performances. In the age of the athlete as iconoclast, the antihero of sports, do they truly deserve recognition as athletes of the year?
Bonds is a 40-year-old wonder -- the wonder is, what's he been on -- still cranking out homers, leading the league in batting and collecting MVPs. Steroids? He told a federal grand jury he never knowingly took them and he's sticking by his story.
Why shouldn't everyone believe him? Here's a guy who watches every calorie and carb he eats, can expound on the nutritional benefits of antioxidants and flavonoids. He balances his broccoli and his baked potatoes, chews sunflower seeds instead of tobacco. He packs his own snacks and doesn't deign to eat clubhouse chow. His body is his temple.
Why wouldn't he gobble up anything his trusted trainer, Greg Anderson, gave him, and not ask any questions? Does anyone doubt that Bonds would be able to distinguish between the nutty taste of flaxseed oil, the soothing balm of arthritis cream and the muscle-popping effects of designer steroids?
Bonds is no dummy. He's a smart fellow, a college man with three years at Arizona State. But maybe he was fooled by Anderson and just didn't notice the changes in his body the last five years when his arms, chest and neck started bulging and his jerseys didn't fit anymore.
And maybe the dozens of people who paid $7,500 to worship him Friday night with Alex Rodriguez in a New York hotel don't much care whether either or both those players have pumped themselves up on chemicals.
The worshippers at this so-called "Ultimate Event" thought the money was well spent: five minutes each of chats and snapshots with the players, autographs, a gift bag of goodies, cocktails and dinner. Nobody broke the ground rules to stay off the subject of steroids. Bonds, by all accounts, was engaging and cheerful.
Which makes it ludicrous to imagine that he will heed the call by some ink-stained wretches to retire. Why should Bonds feel a need to worry about the integrity of baseball and the career home run record? What makes anyone think Bonds believes he did anything different than any of his fellow sluggers, who had their own versions of flaxseed oil and liniment?
Bonds is the epitome of the athlete of our age and there is no better choice for the athlete of the year.
Steve Wilstein is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press.