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Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports Paperback – March 1, 2007
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"A sober, skillful and utterly damning account of not just the Bonds fiasco but the pervasive influence of steroids in sports."—Los Angeles Times
"Devastating. . . . groundbreaking. . . . Necessary reading for anyone concerned with the steroids era in baseball and track and field and its fallout on sports history."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"A compelling portrait of conspiracy. . . . Fascinating."—The Boston Globe
"Scorching. . . . A testament to baseball’s failure."—Newsweek
"Superb. . . . Important and disturbing."—San Francisco Chronicle
"The evidence is detailed, damning, and overwhelming. . . . It’s a growing bonfire of controversy. This book is one of the matches."—The Philadelphia Inquirer
"[Fainaru-Wada and Williams] have got the goods and they reveal them methodically. Everything is well-sourced and meticulously explicated."—Chicago Tribune
“A shocking exposé of the seedy side of pro sports that underscores just how easy it is to cheat.”—Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Mark Fainaru-Wada is an investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. After fifteen months of covering steroid use in sports, in December 2004 they reported in the Chronicle on the secret grand jury testimony of pro baseball players Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, making headlines around the world. Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams won the Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award, the George Polk Award, and the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Edgar A. Poe Award for their reporting.
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are reporters on the investigative team at the San Francisco Chronicle. Together, they broke a series of exclusive stories on the BALCO scandal and earned a string of national honors, including the George Polk Award, The Edgar A. Poe Award of the White House Correspondents’ Association, The Dick Schaap Excellence in Sports Journalism Award and The Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting.
Williams has written on subjects including the California cocaine trade, Oakland’s Black Panther Party and the career of San Francisco mayor and political power-broker Willie Brown. His journalism also has been honored with: the Gerald Loeb Award for financial writing; the California Associated Press’ Fairbanks Award for public service; and, on three occasions, the Center for California Studies' California Journalism Award for political reporting. He was the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California Journalist of the Year in 1999.
Born in Ohio, he graduated from Brown University and the University of California-Berkeley and attended University College, London, U.K. Before joining the Chronicle, he worked as a reporter at the Hayward Daily Review, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Examiner. He was a University of Michigan Journalism Fellow in 1986-87.
Top customer reviews
The authors of this book assert that Barry Bonds took steriods for several years, and was fully aware that he was doing so. The former is fairly obvious, as supported by tons of documented evidence. It's the latter that's more difficult to prove. But that doesn't stop them from trying. To be sure, Bonds has a foul personality. But I couldn't help wondering whether his personality flaws contributed to the authors' reaching conclusions that they otherwise may not have reached.
Helpfully, Fainaru-Wada and Williams don't dedicate the entire book to Barry Bonds. They also devote chapters to other big-time athletes, many of whom subsequently admitted to taking steriods. It paints a sobering picture. Sadly, Victor Conte, the disgraced BALCO CEO, was probably right. Professional athletes had little choice during that era: use dope, or lose out to those that do. That may have been the case, but it's just as well that the prevalence of doping has gradually been exposed by books like "Game of Shadows" and others, and the higher-ups who control the sporting industry have been forced to finally do something about all of the cheating.
Page after page, all the dates, dosages and drugs are listed. No, this isn't a Tom Clancy novel. It reads more like a medical textbook. Those who proclaim Bonds "innocent until proven guilty" status should read those chapters and then look at the physical changes Bonds went thru in that time frame. His personal trainer is still in jail for dealing steroids and Victor Conte, Bonds "nutritional advisor," just got out of jail. Sorry, but flaxseed oil and pumping iron won't transform a human into the grotesque being Barry has become. And they won't make your hat size increase, either. Anybody who thinks Bonds gained all that muscle "naturally" probably also believe O.J. continues to search every golf course in the country for his wife's killer.
How can a man who never hit more than 46 home runs in a season (when he was 28) suddenly average over 51 home runs a year between the ages of 35 and 40? What, did Ponce de Leon spike the water cooler? What other player in history has shown that remarkable improvement in the tail end of his career?
Does Barry get a bad rap from the press? Is he being picked on? Bonds is a baseball player of remarkable ability, a rare combination of speed and power that were easily enough to get him into the Hall of Fame without drug abuse. His ego, and his arrogance, however, far exceeds his natural talents. As described in the book, jealousy over Mark McGwire's adulation drove him to take performance enhancing drugs. Bonds figured he would level the playing field by juicing like Mark. Then we'll see who's the best. Breaking the single season home run record was not enough for his grandiose personality. Now he has to break the record set by one of the most dignified and honest people in sports. As Rick Reilly puts it, when Barry breaks the record, it will be "like a man robbing a bank and then having a giant party to watch him count the money."
The book isn't just a beat down on Barry. Many other athletes are exposed, particularly in track and field where undetectable doping is so vital to cheating the system. Unlike baseball, track and field takes doping very seriously. Sure, Barry has never tested positive for steroids, but when was he tested? Baseball did not even start testing until 2002. For two years, the tests were anonymous and results were not released. Only in 2004 were penalties invoked for testing positive. What a joke. Let's not forget, there is no test for human growth hormone, which is likely what Bonds continues to use to maintain his bloated musculature.
It is July 26, 2007. I will make a few predictions. Bonds breaks the record in mid-August. The hapless Giants have no post season and Barry fades into anonymity for a few weeks. After the World Series in which the Mets beat the Red Sox (sorry Boston fans), Bonds gets indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice and tax evasion.
The tax evasion charges will stick, they always do. Anytime you have an outflow of cash to a mistress or drug dealer, the source of that cash can be traced. It will be baseball card and autograph show cash that was never reported as taxable income. Barry will get convicted and do a little time, just like the other talented egoist, Pete Rose.
And maybe like Pete, Barry will get into the Hall of Fame, posthumously.
Mr Fainaru-Wada and Mr Williams detail how Barry Bonds was apparently jealous of the attention Mark McGuire (probably a steroid user) received when hitting a record-breaking 70 home runs during the 1998 season. Mr Bonds, per the book, successfully turned to steroids to become the greatest hitter of his generation, and perhaps even of all time, at an age when virtually all baseball players are in severe decline.
The irony here is that even if Barry Bonds had prematurely retired instead of beginning to use steroids, his performance to that point would have still been good enough to merit being voted into the baseball hall of fame, probably on the first ballot. Instead, assuming he's guilty (and the book presents reams of evidence in support of that guilt), he tarnished his reputation and legacy for all time, will not receive due credit for the bulk of his career when he was clean, and may never be voted into the hall of fame.
The book also includes interesting description of how steroids help improve performance, and what some of the side effects and health problems that are likely to result from steroid use.
This is a good book and I recommend it.
Most recent customer reviews
There are enough dubious and shady characters in Game of Shadows to...Read more