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February 22, 2005

Barry Bonds

THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for coming today. I know there's a lot of people here, a lot of questions. Barry is here to answer any questions except for, he can't answer questions on BALCO because it's a legal matter and also any personal questions. But baseball related, how his knee is doing, anything like that. First question?

Q. Can you explain over the last four or five years your amazing production, your tremendous growth in muscle strength getting stronger as you get older? Can you finally put to rest --
BARRY BONDS: Can I? Hard work that's about it. Now it's to rest.

Q. That's it?
BARRY BONDS: That's it.

Q. What was the bigger off-season distraction, dealing with the steroid issue or the knee problem?
BARRY BONDS: Well, I went through two knee surgeries -- sorry, y'all, my phone. (Laughter.) (Answering phone.)

Q. Who was it, Barry?
BARRY BONDS: Let me turn that off. I don't want y'all to see that. That's a little too high-tech.

Q. What was a bigger distraction for you, the steroids or the knee?
BARRY BONDS: I don't really watch sports channels, guys. I don't get into it. You know, I just don't. My knees are -- my coming here to try to do what I've got to do on this field is what's most important to me. Having the opportunity to play with Moises now, Moises and I were in Pittsburgh together and I was really disappointed when the Pirates let him go when he was a young kid. Having someone like that hitting behind me, I'm excited about.
You know, I know that I'm older now. I put my body through a lot in 147 games last year. I played more games than anyone on my team, and the oldest and I'm still trying to recover from that.
But the most part is just my knees. I have to be able to play at a level that I want to play at, and, you know, right now, I'm having a little bit more difficulties with this right one than I did with the left one.

Q. You've been working out for how long?
BARRY BONDS: The last three weeks.

Q. What was your reaction to the San Francisco Chronicle story that said -- that leaked grand jury testimony where you told the grand jury that you may have unknowingly taken steroids?
THE MODERATOR: He really can't answer that.

Q. That's not BALCO.
THE MODERATOR: Grand jury. Next question.

Q. Jose Canseco singled you out, I want to know what your reaction is to that, and also, what he said about Mark McGwire, do you believe what he said?
BARRY BONDS: You know, I'm not willing to talk about other athletes, because that's not my style. I'm disappointed, a lot of the athletes, just due to the fact that, you know, there's a code in baseball: Respect your peers regardless of whatever, but this whole thing in sports now has turned into a big circus.
I don't know Canseco, besides "hello" and "good-bye." It's sad, but, I don't -- I don't bear any weight into anything he says. Mark McGwire was a big boy in college, hit a lot of home runs then. Hit 49 home runs I believe his rookie season and won Rookie of the Year. You know, to me, Canseco, you've got to come with a whole lot more than what you're talking about, and fiction, man. There's a whole bunch of those books and stories out there, basically, you know, it's just to make a buck. That's all it is, it's about making money.
But I don't know Jose. I was better than Jose now and I've been better than Jose his whole career. So I don't have anything to talk about Jose. If he wants to go make money, go make money. You had the Bash Boys, you had one of the best lineups in baseball that's second to some of the Yankees lineups or you can go on. For somebody that brags about what he did, I don't see any of your records.

Q. Jose maintains that he did take steroids -- inaudible -- Mike Greenwell feels he should get the MVP because Canseco admitted that he used steroids. What's your opinion on that? And people who achieve awards, should there be an asterisk or maybe it taken back?
BARRY BONDS: You know, I feel that baseball -- I commend Bud Selig and the Players Union and all of the players for trying to put together a testing program that supposed to satisfy everyone. I cannot say enough for what Bud has come out and stated. The Union and the players -- I mean, you can't -- you guys are like rerun stories. This is just -- this is old stuff. I mean, it's like watching Sanford and Son, you know, you just, rerun after rerun after rerun.
You guys, it's like, what, I mean, you can't -- it's almost comical, basically. I mean, we've got alcohol that's the No. 1 killer in America and we legalize that to buy in the store. You've got, you know, you've got tobacco number two, three killer in America, we legalize that. There's other issues. You guys are going to be the same people next week as some tragedy happened, how we need to save our children and everything else and next week, you're the same people sitting there coming, how we should be doing this and how we're evil people, or, you know, you guys, it's one thing after another. You know, pick one side or the other. Are y'all going to be good people or are you all going to be who you are and make the game or sports what it is? It's become "Hard Copy" all day long. Are you guys jealous? Upset? Disappointed? What?

Q. As you approach Babe Ruth on the home run charts, is it troubling to you that people are scrutinizing your achievements, particularly home runs?
BARRY BONDS: No, you guys don't bother me. You're professional at what you do. That doesn't bother me. That's part of the game. That's part of sports, it always has been.
The problem with me, my dad told me before he past away, he said, "The biggest problem with you, Barry is that every great athlete that has gone on for great records, everyone knows their story. People have made hundreds of millions of dollars off their stories with them and protected them. Nobody knows you and they are pissed off."
And I'm sorry. It's not that, you know, to try to just tell you who I am, I was the son of an athlete that also father had some problems or issues. I was raised to protect my family, keep my mouth shut and stay quiet. You don't just all of a sudden turn off who you are as you grow up. I just never wanted that part of my life as I saw some of the things my dad went through personally, being so outgoing and doing things, and suddenly he wasn't there and people turned their backs on him and messed him over and all that stuff. That wasn't something I wanted in my life. I just wanted to do my job and go home. I made my choice. It may not have been the right choice. It may not have been the choice of what America wants or what the people want, but that's my choice, that's my decision.
But it doesn't make me a bad person. It doesn't make me an evil person. It doesn't make me that you know I'm some different person or I'm separating myself from anyone else. I am just -- I want to go to work. I want to play the game as hard as I can. I want to enjoy the guys that I come across during my career. I have the utmost respect for all of them. I think they are all great athletes. I don't care what sport you do. I think you guys are good people for what you guys do. It's your job. I'm not sitting there saying what you guys can't do your job. That's your job, that's what your boss is paying you, even though he's somewhere in the Bahamas, smiling, collecting his change and all this stuff. But, so what? So be it. It's okay for him to do it but we're supposed to justify us.
I'm an adult and I take responsibilities for what I do, but I'm not going to allow you guys to ruin my joy.

Q. You say you don't care about what the media says; fair enough. What would you say to fans who question your accomplishments?
BARRY BONDS: Do you know what? I'm going to tell you, through all this, that's one question I was waiting for, because I have problem gotten the best relationship with fans through all of this, than I ever have in my entire career. From all the places I've ever gone, and I've traveled all over the place and gone places: "Barry, keep your head up, we're behind you," we're this. And I mean, coming over to me -- the things that I've always wanted, to come over to me and just shake my hand and say, "You know what? Who cares. You're a good ballplayer. You proved it. You know, you've done this, you've done that. We're all supporting you." I've never heard that before.
And the fans come to the game, you have fans that come to the game that are going to boo and fans that come to the game that are going to cheer. That's part of sports. Boo me, cheer me, those that are going to cheer me are going to cheer me and those that are going to boo me are going to boo me. But they still are going to come see the show.
Dodger Stadium is the best show I ever go to in all of my baseball. They say, "Barry sucks" louder than anybody out there. And you know what, you'll see me in left field going just like this, because you know what, you've got to have some serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you suck. And I'm proud of that.

Q. Barry, you know, I understand legally you're not allowed to answer a lot of the questions people would like to ask, do you look forward to the day when maybe you can set things straight and you can come right out and be honest?
BARRY BONDS: I look for the day for you guys to stop being a rerun show and this thing will blow over and everybody will go about their business as though it has. Baseball, sports, basketball, football will continue on.
It's just sad that, you know, this is where sports has become a spectacle now. It's not -- it's become comical and it's sad, because we're not -- we're not trying to make it comical because we're not writing the stories. You know, we're just trying to go out there as human beings and do our job.

Q. Through all of this controversy, it has to have taken an emotional toll on you. Have you lost sleep over this?
BARRY BONDS: You know, the part that I lose sleep over is my family and my family and my kids and what pain -- which I say -- should I blame you guys for it? There's no facts on Barry Bonds, but should I blame you? Who should I blame? Who should I blame for the things that go on that my kids have to listen to, who should I blame? You know, I don't. I tell my kids, you know what, just don't be famous. You don't want it, don't be famous. You know what, let people say whatever they are going to say.

Q. (Inaudible)?
BARRY BONDS: You guys, don't edit this, make it live. Good.

Q. Is it people who are writing stories about the grand jury testimony or the fact that --
BARRY BONDS: We're not even on grand jury testimony. We just told you that about 15 times, didn't we? We need to move on.

Q. In your pursuit of Ruth's record, how do you feel about coming to play -- with the knee surgery, getting prepared, how is that going to delay you?
BARRY BONDS: That's the part that I'm afraid of more. See, my legs have always been the strongest thing on my body. The work ethics that I use with my legs, that's my power and my entire drive. It's always been my legs. This, you know, your hands are just -- use your hands to hit, but I need that drive.
And you know, I'm going to have to work a lot harder. I'm going to have to work a lot harder this year than I ever -- I had two surgeries, in three months. It's going to be really hard because, I mean, at 40, I mean, I go in the gym, I work out, but unfortunately it's not staying as long sometimes. It's like my legs don't feel as strong. I feel strong for two or three days, but it's starting to go away faster, you know what I mean. So I'm having to do some of this -- I'm having to do more of the same things constantly, but that's what I was doing last year. That's why I have a team of people around me to keep me doing those things, forcing me to do legs that I would normally want to do once, you know -- maybe once a week that they are making me do three times a week, because, "Barry, you are getting older and if you want to maintain your strength, you're going to have to do it more often."

Q. How much do you think the increased scrutiny comes from the fact that you're about to pass Babe Ruth? Say you were 200 homers away from Babe, do you think it would be the same?
BARRY BONDS: No. If I was a long way away, this would not be the same. Not at all.

Q. Why do you think so much scrutiny comes -- inaudible?
BARRY BONDS: Because Babe Ruth is one of the greatest baseball players ever, and Babe Ruth ain't black, either. I'm black. Blacks, we go through a little bit more. Unfortunately I said it, I'm not a racist, though, but I live in the real world. I'm fine with that. But Babe Ruth is one of the greatest baseball players ever to play the game of baseball. It's an honor to even be here, you know what I mean?
The sad part about it, man, I just really want to go play baseball. The record thing, I don't really care about as much as just going out there and playing a game and being the best and that's what I tell my kids. If you hit 100 home runs or you hit one home run, if that's that the best that you feel is the best, then that's the best. So the best is whatever you get out of yourself is the best. That's all I'm trying to do, whatever that best is. If I trip and fall down the stairs and 703 was the best and my career ended and that's the best, should I feel any different? No, I don't feel any different. I'm not going to change who I am.

Q. What are some of the things you hear since you say that you're black and Babe Ruth was white; what have you heard from people?
BARRY BONDS: What have I heard? No, I just sat there and said it's just different, you know. It's just different, different nationalities. Different treatment.

Q. To kind of focus in on that, you know, whether you played in New York -- inaudible -- the racism came out -- inaudible?
BARRY BONDS: I think it's because I haven't given you guys what you wanted, that's all. I just chose that road. It wasn't -- it wasn't for any bad reason, it was for my own personal reasons, my own safety net as you could say, just to play the game. I don't -- I don't care about the other parts of it. I just care about the game and playing the game. I mean, I guess if I would have given you guys what you wanted, smiled all the time and did everything, I'd have endorsement deals and the whole nine yards, but that wasn't the road that I wanted because that's not what I really care about.
I care about going out, working hard, doing my thing and my job, and that's it, go home, see my kids, hang out with everyone else, my friends and that was it. It's just, money has never been an issue of it. I mean, I make great money playing baseball because I play the game and I've earned that.
But, I mean, it's never been my driving force that I needed to do this and needed to do this and needed to do this to consider myself whatever you guys want to consider me.

Q. How is your knee now and is there still pain? How do you think your rehab is going to go or how long?
BARRY BONDS: I have no idea. It's been a little bit of a setback for me, just a little bit. But, you know, I get here, I have my boys, we'll put it back together again, we always do. (Smiling) I'll be out there again doing it again.

Q. Inaudible?
BARRY BONDS: No, I'll get in the pool and work my butt off and do the things that I need to do and get it as strong as I can and go out there and do my job.

Q. Right or wrong, true or false, a lot of the accusations, particularly involving Canseco's book, people are saying it's damaged the game, do you agree with that? And if so, does it bother you that it's damaged the game that you play for a living?
BARRY BONDS: I don't -- I think a lot of things have damaged sports with a lot of just the whole, everything. But there's a lot worse things going on in our world, a lot more worse. You should focus on fixing those first.

Q. Jason Giambi felt the need to make an apology. Is there anything that you need to apologize for?
BARRY BONDS: What did I do?

Q. Well, he talked about the grand jury testimony.
BARRY BONDS: Yeah, but what did I do? I'm just sorry that we're even going through all this rerun stuff. I'm sorry that, you know, this fiction all stuff and maybe some facts, who knows, but I'm sorry that, you know -- we're all sorry about this.
None of us want to go through this. None of us want to deal with this stuff. We want to go out and do our job. But what's your purpose and what you're doing it for, rewriting it, writing it over and over and over and over again, what's your reasoning? What are you going to apologize for when you're wrong?

Q. Can you talk about batting with Moises Alou behind you?
BARRY BONDS: I hope it's going to be fun, man, because from what I hear, they say they are going to pitch to me more, so it's going to be a lot quicker for me. (Laughing.)
But who knows. But, you know, it's going to be fun. But we're all old on our team, so it's going to be interesting. I'm going to talk with Michael Tucker a lot because I think Michael Tucker is going to play like -- we're going to go three days and then just Tucker is going to play 162 days: Left, center, right; left, center, right; left, center, right, while the rest of us take some time off.

Q. You mentioned a setback and what we've been told from the beginning since July 31 when you had this operation that you would be ready to play in an exhibition game around the 15th of March and there --
BARRY BONDS: Where did you hear that from?

Q. That was what was in the release, I believe that was --
BARRY BONDS: Why do you guys never give up your source? Name, name, name, please.

Q. Stan Conti.
BARRY BONDS: Stan Conti did not say that, that's a lie. I know for a fact a fan could not have said it. See, you guys,.

Q. The official release --
BARRY BONDS: See, you lied, you lied. Next question. (Laughter.)

Q. Will you be ready to play by April 5th?
BARRY BONDS: April 5? Opening Day. I don't know. But you did lie.

Q. Everybody in this room agrees with what you said, this is a circus --
BARRY BONDS: I like you. What's your name, man?

Q. What would be your solution to end the circus?
BARRY BONDS: I think that allow Major League Baseball, Bud Selig and the Union and its players, allow the drug testing program to work. Allow it to work. Let's go forward. I truly believe that we need to go forward. Okay, you cannot rehash the past. If that's the case, we're going to go way back into 19th, 18th centuries in rehashing the past and we'll crush a lot of things in a lot of sports if that's what you guys want. If you just want a lot of things out of the sports world, then we can go back into the 1800s and basically asterisk a lot of sports if that's what you choose and that's what you want to do.
If that's going to make you happy and everything, then go right ahead, figure it out, who you want, it's going to go all the way down the line.
But, things that happen in sports, in all sorts of sports, it's time to move on. Every time there has been incident, it has been corrected and now that it's being corrected, I think we need to go forward, move forward, let it go. Y'all stop watching Red Foxx in rerun shows and let's go ahead and let the program work and allow us to do our job.

Q. What's going to be your approach to repair it from here on out? You are you expect other people to come clean and move forward?
BARRY BONDS: We just need to go out there and do our jobs, just as you professionals do your job. All you guys lied. All of y'all and the story or whatever have lied. Should you have asterisk behind your name? All of you lied. All of you have said something wrong. All of you have dirt. All of you. When your closet's clean, then come clean somebody else's. But clean yours first, okay.
But I think right now baseball just needs to go forward and you guys need to turn the page and let's move forward. Let us play the game, and we will fix it. I think we all want to, I think we all have a desire to. I think we all are hurting, including myself.

Q. What are we moving forward from?
BARRY BONDS: Okay. Strike one, ball one, one out, cheer, boo, yeah, game over, let's go home. I mean, what else do you want to talk about? You know, there's a sports world -- the sports world is as bad as it is because this is the only business that allows you guys in our office to begin with. You can't just go to Bank of America, walk in the office, start interviewing employees. Just the sports world. Well, what for? Well, we don't want to get into the money aspect of it; we'll leave that to the side.
But now, don't turn it into a spectacle now just because you have the freedom to come into our office and snoop and make up stories if you choose to, because, you know, a lot of it's not true. I mean, baseball players, every baseball player I know of, and I've been around this game since I was a child, all care about this game, all love this game, all have had their own personal problems or non-personal problems. But for the most part, no one goes out there and wants to embarrass the game of baseball, no one wants to go out there and embarrass themselves. I don't want to go out there and embarrass myself in front of people. I don't want people looking down on me. No one does.
You know, unfortunately we have different personalities or different agendas, but if some of us are treated different than others, like I am, I get treated a little bit different than others, but that's kind of like fun for me, though, at times, I like it. It keeps me going. It makes me want to go out there and prove you wrong. That's my driving force to being the player that I am. You know, when you don't talk about -- I'm kind of getting lonely a little bit and figure out something I want to did but that's me, but that's not everybody else, you see what I mean?

Q. Do you personally think the steroids have been a part of baseball in the last 15 or so years?
BARRY BONDS: You know what, I never -- truthfully, I never really paid any attention to it nor did I really care because I worried about me. That's it. I was good then and I'm still good.

Q. As you go forward, if and when you break Hank's record, if there is still a stigma, if there is still a cloud hanging over you, how do you think baseball will celebrate that record and how do you think they should?
BARRY BONDS: I don't know how baseball is going to celebrate. I don't know how baseball celebrated each of the other records. You know, they come and they say these are things they are going to do for it at the time when you get close to those situations. That's just how it works.
Right now, I just go day-to-day, hope something don't happen, you know what I mean. Anything can happen between now and then and this is all trivial, you know what I mean. You don't know.
My knee could not get healthy and I miss the season. Who knows? You never know what can happen. So I don't really worry about what's going to happen.

Q. If and when you break Hank's record, do you think fans across the country will celebrate (ph) it?
BARRY BONDS: I do. I really I do. Fans like sports. Fans love sports. Yes, I do.

Q. Do you think, gut feeling, do you think you'll be ready on Opening Day?
BARRY BONDS: Oh, come on, are you trying? I hope so.

Q. You were talking about things that were said that weren't true. What has been written and said that isn't true?
BARRY BONDS: I don't read all your guys stuff, but you know, you write, you write your stories, you know. We all have to keep our job, don't we, one way or the other. You do your job.

Q. A lot of people here don't know --
BARRY BONDS: Wow, wow, did you do it to me? Wow.

Q. Have you lied about anything?
BARRY BONDS: Yeah, I lied to my parents when I was growing up. Lied to my friends.

Q. Baseball.
BARRY BONDS: Have I lied about baseball? Yeah, I told a couple of stories that I hit a couple of balls a couple of places that I really didn't, yeah. That's about the extent of it.

Q. Inaudible -- singling out personalities?
BARRY BONDS: I don't know. I don't really even worry about it. I mean, something -- I don't know what you guys are going to do about it anyway. I don't know what anyone is going to do about it. What are you going to do about it?

Q. Barry, without all of the attention, the drug-testing program probably would not have come to be, without Bush, without the scrutiny there never would have been a program.
BARRY BONDS: It's a program. So let's let the program work. But let it work. Let it work.

Q. Without the questions from this, it never would have happened --
BARRY BONDS: But let it work.

Q. Long overdue; no?
BARRY BONDS: Long overdue? Alcohol is long overdue that we should ban that. There's a lot of things we should ban and get out of here. Okay then. Let's do that.

Q. Do you view the use of steroid as cheating?
BARRY BONDS: As cheating? I don't -- I don't know what cheating is. I don't know cheating, if steroid is going to help you in baseball. I just don't believe it. I don't believe steroids can help you, eye/hand coordination, technically hit a baseball, I just don't believe it and that's just my opinion.

Q. You talked about protecting your family when your kids come home and they tell you stories of your reputation under attack, what do you say to them?
BARRY BONDS: None of your business because I wouldn't let you in my house.

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