National | Sports

Issue: "Abortion: All the rage," May 8, 2004

Bonds bomber

Baseball situation: Runner on second base, one out, and Barry Bonds at the plate-what do you do? Throw him four wide ones, right? But what if the bases were empty and there were two outs? Do you pitch to Mr. Bonds, the modern Sultan of Swat? If Mr. Bonds is so good, and the other members of the San Francisco Giants lineup are so bad, why do pitchers still throw strikes to him? On May 28, 1998, opposing manager Buck Showalter ordered Mr. Bonds walked intentionally with a two-run lead with two outs in the ninth. One problem: The bases were already loaded. But the next batter lined out and Mr. Showalter turned into a genius, though the slugger all but called him a coward. Now some in baseball wonder aloud whether Mr. Bonds can bat .400 this season. Through 20 games, the slugger earned hits in half of his 44 at-bats. With Mr. Bonds hitting so well, pitchers have avoided the plate, walking him a bit less than twice a game. But why pitch to Mr. Bonds at all? Mr. Bonds is the only headliner of the woeful Giants lineup. Even with him, the Giants have the fifth-worst offense through 20 games with a club batting average of .239. But don't look for him to start taking four walks a game, even if it would cripple the Giants offense. No one wants to be a coward.

Hero's sacrifice

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TUESDAYS WERE THE ARIZONA CARDINALS' DAY OFF, but young NFL safety Pat Tillman was at work nonetheless on Sept. 11, 2001. That morning Mr. Tillman huddled with reporters and Cardinals officials around a television as the terrorist attacks played out live on television. A little more than eight months later, Mr. Tillman left a multimillion-dollar contract offer on the table and enlisted in the Army. Last month, Spec. Tillman died alongside an Afghan road during a firefight.

Stunned, The Arizona Republic made Mr. Tillman's decision front-page news and the media frenzy swept across American sports pages even though Mr. Tillman added no fuel to the fire-he refused all interviews about his enlistment. At the time, Republic columnist Dan Bickley wasn't a bit surprised: "Soon Tillman will be scrubbing garbage cans, polishing his shoes, saluting his superiors. Until then, take a moment and salute him for being so outrageously different, for being so true to his convictions," he wrote. Mr. Bickley watched Mr. Tillman walk on at Arizona State and turn into a hometown hero of the Arizona Cardinals. But now his uniqueness and self-sacrifice are solidified. Like other soldiers, Mr. Tillman left the American dream so that others could continue to pursue it at a comfortable distance.

Around the horn

The playoffs ended quickly for the St. Louis Blues, but that's the least of 23-year-old forward Mike Danton's problems. Mr. Danton has been indicted in a murder-for-hire plot gone awry. The supposed target: long-time mentor and agent David Frost, who had been an authority figure in Danton's life since he was 11 years old. Like the Todd Bertuzzi incident, an NHL murder-for-hire plot is not the kind of storyline the league needs heading into the tumultuous labor negotiations.

More bombshells in the BALCO steroid scandal: The San Jose Mercury News reported last week that federal agents said BALCO founder Victor Conte told them he provided 27 elite athletes with steroids. Baseball players like Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, and Gary Sheffield highlighted the list, but the report also names seven NFL players and 15 track athletes including American World Record holders Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones. The New York Times reported that Ms. Jones wrote a $7,350 check to Mr. Conte in 2000. Ms. Jones denies the claims.

Nothing stirs the passions of an incumbent quarterback more than when his team burns a first-round pick on another quarterback. That explains Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox's anger following the Steelers draft. Pittsburgh picked up Ben Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick, prompting Mr. Maddox to demand a meeting with Steelers head coach Bill Cowher.


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