Book Review: “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports”


Two weeks ago, Major League Baseball reached a landmark in their fight against performance enhancing drugs. For the first time, 13 players were suspended for PED use without a single positive test.

Read that again — 13 players were suspended without a single positive test.

“Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports”, by San Francisco Chronicle investigative journalists Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, was released just prior to the 2006 baseball season. Barry Bonds hadn’t yet passed Hank Aaron in the all-time home run total. The following known PED users hadn’t been outed: Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz. George Michell’s famous report was still a year and a half away from publication. In 2006, the “Steroid Era” was still very much in its infancy.

But “Game of Shadows” couldn’t be more relevant today.

In many ways, Barry Bonds is the star of “Game of Shadows”. But the real star is Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO).

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Review: Ty Cobb Museum

20130420-090712.jpgIt is impossible in our modern world to talk about Ty Cobb without the specter of racism being present. It is similar to bringing up the topic of Berry Bonds without mentioning steroids. The difference is, nobody doubts Cobb’s authentic achievements on the diamond, but Bonds accomplishments leave more to the interpretation.

Cobb’s achievements are truly remarkable. At his retirement he owned 70 or so records and received the highest percentages of votes in the inaugural Hall of Fame class. He was recognized in his time as being the greatest living baseball player. The Ty Cobb Museum is located in Royston, Georgia, the closest town to the small farm area where Ty Cobb was born. At one time, I am sure this was really the middle of nowhere, Ga.  Now, it is a little less than an hour from the suburban sprawl that is Atlanta.  The museum tells the story of Cobb from the perspective of his family and neighbors and friends.


The museum exists in a paradox of independent sports museums. You don’t make a museum for someone Continue reading “Review: Ty Cobb Museum”

Petco Park, notice anything different?

Petco had the nickname among those in San Diego as Petco National Park.  Rumor is that the park was purposely built to favor the pitchers and, more precisely, hold down the number of home runs hit by Barry Bonds.  Pitchers love the park and hitters dislike it.  In the early days, Phil Nevin resorted to making gestures at the owners box when a hard hit ball of his dropped in for a double rather than a home run

Over the winter, the Padres made changes to the park to bring the outfield power alleys further in.

In left-center, the fences were moved in from 402 feet to 390 feet.

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