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Bonds’ growth suspect

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Maybe Barry Bonds can argue that weightlifting, not drugs, accounted for his weird, middle-aged home-run barrage and freaky body makeover, as he has maintained.

He can argue (weakly) that squats and power cleans enabled him to hit nearly 300 home runs after his 35th birthday and added 30 pounds to his skinny frame.

He can argue (not convincingly) that bench press and shoulder shrugs enabled him to get so big that he went from a size 42 jersey to a size 52.

But how does he explain this: His head grew from size 7 1/8 to 7 3/4.

Or this: His feet grew from size 10 1/2 to size 13.

There are a lot of exercises that make your muscles bigger, but there aren't any that increase the size of your head and feet.

Anyone for a set of head presses?

A few reps of foot cleans?

How does he explain an increase in his hat size — and this despite shaving his head bald?

"I expanded my mind, man," he could say. "I've been reading the Harvard Classics. You can gain a hat size just by reading Shakespeare and the Elizabethan dramas."

The increases Bonds made would be mind-boggling at any age, but for a middle-aged man, it's more like science fiction. It's straight out of the Incredible Hulk. Sure, a lot of men make increases in size as they age — in their waistline.

Among the reported effects of middle age: loss of hair, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, sore knees, diminished eyesight. So far no one has mentioned anything about a larger dome.

It's probably just a coincidence that one of the side effects of human growth hormone is believed to be growth of the cranium and extremities.

The increases in Bonds' body parts were recently revealed by authors Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada in an afterword they included in the newly released paperback version of their ground-breaking book, "Game of Shadows," which chronicles Bonds' steroid use.

The book is just part of the overwhelming case against Bonds that seems to get bigger and bigger, like his head.

But he's still playing baseball.

Bonds will return next month, at the age of 42, and resume his pursuit of baseball's hallowed career home run record. He needs 22 to overtake Henry Aaron, who, by the way, was 6-foot, 180 pounds — 50 pounds lighter than Bonds.

It's a race against time. The game's purists hope a strong enough case can be built against Bonds to stop him before he catches Aaron.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder what they're waiting for. If Bonds jammed a needle into his rump while standing in the batter's box, would that be enough evidence? What does a guy have to do to get busted in baseball?

Bonds' name turned up in the BALCO records, along with several other athletes (some of whom were punished by their sports).

His ex-girlfriend tattled on him in "Game of Shadows," a well-documented and researched book that leaves the reader convinced of Bonds' guilt (the slugger has never refuted any of the book's facts).

The book prompted baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to launch an investigation into steroid use, headed by former Sen. George Mitchell, but after nearly a year nothing much has happened.

Bonds recently refused to cooperate with the glacially slow investigation, which sounds a lot like Mark McGwire stalling in front of Congress, without the public outcry.

Bonds himself is being investigated by a federal grand jury for possible perjury for testifying in 2003 that he had never intentionally taken steroids.

Bonds has never flunked a steroid test, but neither did Tim Montgomery and Chryste Gaines, who were both banned from track and field based on evidence from the BALCO scandal.

Some defend Bonds by claiming that baseball did not prohibit steroids prior to 2002. But in 1991, Fay Vincent, who was the baseball commissioner at the time, sent a league memo stating that any player caught using illegal drugs, including steroids, could be punished. This occurred shortly after the federal government classified steroids as a controlled substance, making it illegal to sell, distribute or use them without a prescription.

Somehow, that hasn't been enough to stop Bonds. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that something stinks about the slugger. (Maybe it takes a guy with a big head.)

E-mail: drob@desnews.com