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Original Issue

Checking In With Barry

TO: Baseball fans and media

FROM: Barry Bonds

Remember me? Dude who gave you 762 free souvenirs and never once got thanked? Dude who embarrassed National League pitchers for two decades, put up the most ridiculous numbers in baseball history and won seven MVP awards? Time was, you respected me. Some of you even loved me.

Until you hated me. So I didn't smile and sign every little kid's T-shirt. So I ignored a teammate or two. So I blew off reporters—hey, they were just going to make stuff up anyway. And yeah, so I took some of the Clear. O.K., maybe I took enough to put a horse in a coma, but what's the difference? Point is, I could play the game. Play it like no one else. Ever.

None of that mattered, though. You called me a cheater and said it all had to go—the respect, the records, even the chance to play. Come on, two years ago I put up a 1.045 OPS. You're telling me no team could have used that kind of talent last season? Know how many hitters have an OPS that high right now? (Yeah, you bet I keep up.) That's right: one. Your boy Albert Pujols—or as my friends call him, the Last Great Clean Hope (Until He Isn't). But me? I sat and waited for a phone call that never came, unless it was my lawyers wanting to talk about that annoying perjury case.

Teams thought I'd be a p.r. nightmare. A locker room problem. That I was old and grumpy and couldn't field. Hell, Adam Dunn is young and grumpy and can't field, and the Nationals signed him for 10 mil a year. But no, I was the Great Steroid Pariah. Yeah, you're damn right I know what that word means.

So I have to ask: What do you think of me now? Come on, let's go down the list together of all the big names linked to performance-enhancing drugs: McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, A-Rod, Manny and now Big Papi. You people love Big Papi. Can't get enough of him. But wasn't it obvious his numbers were bogus? Dude used to be a scrub. Then at 27 he suddenly turns into Reggie freaking Jackson? He went from hitting 20 home runs a season to 54! But none of you noticed because you were all talking about my hat size, and besides, David Ortiz didn't look like a user. He was too goofy, too soft and—let's be honest—too fat. It was like saying Santa Claus was on the juice.

So how are you going to treat Papi now? Will you boo him and throw syringes on the field like you did to me? Are you going to sic Pedro Gomez on him? Because if so, can you get on that sooner rather than later? The guy's still camping out on my porch. I'm not joking. I can see him through the curtains right now.

While we're at it, just what price has Manny paid? Let's see: a 50-game suspension and then ... what? More love from you guys. Just last week some joker from a Long Beach paper went on about how great Manny was because when he approached Manny for an interview and mentioned Armenian food, Manny said the two of them should go out for Armenian sometime and gave him his number. Hello! I love Armenian food. Are you telling me all it takes to change your opinion is sharing some tas kebab? Are you people really that shallow?

Wait, don't answer that. Go on hating me. It's cool. I still have my trial, and I need to finish patching things up with my wife now that we're no longer getting a divorce—despite that big-mouth girlfriend of mine. And of course I need time to work on my Hall of Fame acceptance speech—that is, if I decide you all deserve to hear one.

And think about this: Only seven of the 104 names on that master list of juicers have come out. That means there are nearly one hundred still to drop, and that's just from that one round of testing six years ago. Jose Canseco says there's a 95% chance anyone who played in the last 20 years was using something, and even though he's a total nut job who I'd probably hit in the face with a bat if I saw him in a back alley, dude does seem to know what he's talking about when it comes to cheating.

So here's what I'm asking. As each new name comes out and you guys all care less and forgive quicker because you just want to move on already, think about me for a second. You know, the guy you singled out among an invisible crowd of hundreds of players, the guy who took all your anger for all those years and never let it break him. And ask yourself this: What if I'd been a nice guy? What if I'd smiled at the crowds and had a cute nickname like Big Bappi and took all of you out for Armenian food? And what if you just found out I'd been on the juice—well, what would you think of me then? Would I still be public enemy No. 1? Or would you feel different? Because I'm thinking you would.

I'm thinking that right about now you're feeling bad about how you treated me. I'm thinking maybe you'd like to apologize.

Not that I care, of course. No, not at all.

Talk Back
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So how will you treat Big Papi now? Will you boo him and throw syringes on the field like they did to me? Will you sic Pedro Gomez on him?