"Now batting, Number 25, Barry Bonds . . . "
One of the greatest players in baseball history -- maybe the greatest player -- was coming to bat Tuesday night. I was sitting in RFK Stadium wondering what to do as Bonds's introduction echoed through the stands.
Should I boo? Should I stand and cheer? Or maybe sit in silence?
Barry Bonds is one of just three players in Major League Baseball history to hit more than 700 home runs. Henry Aaron had 755. Babe Ruth hit 714. So far, Bonds has blasted 707.
Bonds is a seven-time Most Valuable Player and the only player with more than 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases. Some of his recent seasons -- in which he set records for getting on base and slugging -- have been unbelievable, especially for a player older than 35. (He's 41.)
That's the problem. Lots of people think that Bonds took steroids to help him hit home runs and set other records. Steroids are drugs that make athletes stronger. They can be dangerous and they are against the rules. In other words, Barry Bonds may have cheated to be a great player.
Can we know for sure if he cheated? It's never been reported that Bonds has flunked a drug test (unlike the Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro). On the other hand, Bonds's personal trainer has admitted he gave steroids to athletes. And Bonds has been accused of using a steroid cream. But he reportedly has said he didn't know the cream contained steroids.
I don't buy that. It's hard to believe that a smart, world-class athlete such as Bonds would use something if he didn't know what it was. Some of Bonds's friends say he knew he was using steroids.
So what's a baseball fan to do? Boo or cheer? The guy is maybe the greatest hitter ever. Even if he took steroids, the drugs didn't help him hit the baseball. They might have helped him become stronger so that he could hit the ball farther.
And isn't a person supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? That's true when you are in court and have been accused of a crime.
But I wasn't in court Tuesday night. I was sitting at the ballpark deciding whether to tell Barry Bonds that I think he's a baseball hero or a cheat.
I stood up and booed. I booed as loud and as long as I could. I even booed after Bonds hit a home run into the upper deck. A lot of other people at the stadium booed, too.
I think fans who care about sports and cheating, and kids who dream of playing sports without taking drugs, should boo Bonds. Although I am not 100 percent sure, I think it's likely he intentionally used steroids. I think he probably did cheat.
So I stood and booed to let him know that I think he is a cheater and that all his records and home runs can never make it right.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is the author of sports novels for kids.