Most I talk with think Barry Bonds ingested steroids in one way or another. I want to suggest another issue that may have had more impact on his inflated home run numbers than the alleged steroid abuse: Barry Bonds is armed. Just look at the pictures of Bonds when at bat, and you’ll observe a noticeable set of pads and gear around his right elbow, forearm and tricep. That’s the basis for his inflated numbers right there.
Have you ever faced a 100mph fastball? Fear is at the heart of batting, and Reggie Jackson was one who openly admitted how scary it was. Standing on top of the plate puts the body at threat, and since getting hit hurts bad, most batters stand away from the plate. When they do, it gives the pitcher room to maneuver: throw outside and get the batter to lean, and then jam him inside; or get him pulling off the plate and throw it on the paint away, and you’ve got him again.
But, not with Barry Bonds. Because he’s armed, protected from where it would hurt the most, he can hug the plate and pull outside pitches or at least get them solid with the heart of the bat. His armor takes fear away from batting, and that means more than most think. I think the armor is wrong; and I can’t understand how pitchers and opposing teams can put up with it. Why not give someone armor all the way up and down the side facing the pitcher? C’mon, Barry, play by the rules.
I rest my case: Barry Bonds might be taking steroids, and that might help him hit more homers. But he is wearing armor, and that armor clearly permits him to crowd the plate, and pull more hits into McCovey Cove.