NEVER SEEN anything like this Fake Break, this Barry Bonds home run record hype. It's like a man robbing a bank and then having a giant party to watch him count the money.
But some dark day soon—and let's hope it's not in front of the Kool-Aid chuggers in San Francisco—Bonds will hit number 756, and the game will be stopped for a queasy kind of ceremony and the news channels will break away to show it and everybody will be trying to decide whether to stand up or throw up.
So how do you commemorate a dishonest moment produced by a man who has denied using performance enhancers despite a silo of evidence to the contrary? Not to worry. We're here to help.
As Bonds is running the bases, feel free to....
• Light one of his baseball cards and hold it up like a Bic at a concert.
• Catch the ball and throw it back. You'll never have to pay for a beer the rest of your life.
• Hold up four fingers on each hand—44—Hank Aaron's number.
• Hold up a big sign: SEVEN FILTHY SIX.
• Women, pull a black veil over your face. Men, pin on a black carnation.
• Call the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., and ask to speak to Greg Anderson. He's the convicted steroids dealer—and Bonds's personal trainer and friend—who's spent 10 months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury looking into possible perjury and tax-evasion charges against Bonds. Ask Anderson what he's going to want from Bonds when he gets out. Like, say, Florida.
• Call the Hall of Fame and ask which cap will appear on Bonds's head in his Coopers-town exhibit—the size 7, the 7 1/2 or the 8?
• Pull out a copy of Game of Shadows—by San Francisco Chronicle writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams—and begin reading aloud how Bonds used steroids, human growth hormone, insulin, testosterone decanoate, bovine steroids and female fertility drugs to help him set this record. And then watch Bonds step on home and point to God.
• If you're watching on TV, flip to something a little more plausible, like MacGyver.
• Hold up a big sign that says 650, which is about how many home runs Bonds would have if you replaced the homer totals from his alleged juicing years (1999 through 2004) with his prejuice pace of 32 per season.
• Send rabbits' feet, four-leaf clovers and two-headed pennies to Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr., letting them know that you're pulling for them to pass Bonds like he's a hitchhiker in an orange jumpsuit.
• Hold up a big sign: FLAXSEED WORKS!
• Jump onto the field and give commissioner Bud Selig a hug, for he's a Milwaukee native who loved watching Hank Aaron, and his fondest wish was probably to see Bonds fall down an elevator shaft.
• Get Bonds's autograph at the ballpark—on the bottom of an affidavit that reads, I set this record with the help of performance-enhancing drugs. I am a very large jerk for doing so.
• Squirt juice out of a giant syringe.
• Remind yourself that they put a gold medal around Ben Johnson's neck for a while, too.
The truth is, it won't matter what we do. We live in an era when our Crap Detectors must always have fresh batteries. Every day we use them to decide which numbers are real and which are fake—$90 Enron stock and Donald Trump's handicap and 36 double D's on 100-pound women. And we know this number is fake. And this celebration is fake. And this feat is fake.
Remember this: The man who held the record before Bonds—one of the most principled and honorable men you will ever meet—is reluctant to even speak to Bonds on the phone, much less be there to witness the record breaker. Just because a thief paints over a masterpiece doesn't mean the masterpiece isn't still underneath.
And when the Fake Break is finally over and the confetti is swept up, Barry Bonds will have to go back to the one place where even he doesn't believe the lies.
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Send rabbits' feet to Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. and let them know that you're pulling for them to pass Bonds like he's a hitchhiker in an orange jumpsuit.
PETER READ MILLER