And the Emmy goes to …

So HBO is going to turn Barry Bonds’ link to BALCO into a movie? Fantastic. We live in a lazy society, so all the folks who haven’t bothered to read “Game of Shadows,” can now take the shortcut and watch the movie version. Then they can pawn off all of Bonds’ troubles on the “creative license” that comes with any such movie.

In the meantime, here would be my picks for the starting roles.

DENZEL WASHINGTON AS BONDS: Bonds ran the clubhouse in San Francisco as if he were a mob boss, and Denzel has already shown his proficiency for such a role with his performance in “American Gangster.” (Also worth considering: Jamie Foxx and Cuba Gooding Jr.)

REGINA FOX AS MARION JONES: She bears a little bit of a resemblance to the disgraced track star, and she’s ready for a leading role. Remember, Game of Shadows was as much about her as it was Bonds. (Also worth considering: Beyonce Knowles, Kerry Washington).

BILLY BOB THORNTON AS VICTOR CONTE: Many of Thornton’s characters seem to have a hint of sleaziness to them, and yet, compelling at the same time. Makes him the perfect man to play this guy. (Also under consideration: Tommy Lee Jones, Rutger Hauer)

KEVIN BACON AND GENE HACKMAN AS THE REPORTERS: Gotta have Bacon in a movie like this, and I’ve always been partial to Hackman. But I’m open to suggestions.


La Russa pleads guilty

Nice to see that St. Louis Cardinals manager and Bay Area resident Tony La Russa stepped forward and pleaded guilty to his DUI arrest in March. Even better to see that he’s not hiding behind some vague statement from a lawyer.

Still would’ve liked to have seen him skip the Cardinals’ ring ceremony last season, because I think he could’ve made a grand statement to the sports culture about the severity of such an offense. But as accountability goes, this is a prime example of La Russa doing the right thing. He’s often been above board in this area throughout his career, and with this action, some of the stain from his DUI arrest has been lessened.

that could’ve spoken volumes as to the severity of punishment that should be expec


The Hot Stove

The Winter Meetings commence in Nashville, Tenn., six days from now, and the A’s and Giants, traditionally tight-lipped during this time of year, continue to pop up on the rumor mill. Here are three key questions regarding each.


1) Do the A’s view themselves as contenders or rebuilders? Wrote back in September that the this franchise is a bit like a house that eventually will need some major renovation; the question is when to begin? Chances are, the offers the A’s get for pitchers Dan Haren and Joe Blanton during the meetings could well determine the answer. Haren, especially, may be the most attractive pitcher on the market behind Minnesota’s Johan Santana (and some would argue, more), because he’s a very cheap No. 1. But that might make him even more desirable for the A’s to keep, because with full health, the A’s could still make some noise. Hard decision for Billy Beane to make.

2) How much of what they do will depend on the health of their roster? Almost all of it, because when healthy, the A’s still have a very sound roster. That said, can they really afford to count on starter Rich Harden, shortstop Bobby Crosby, center fielder Mark Kotsay to be key cogs anymore? And shouldn’t they be awfully concerned with how third baseman Eric Chavez will respond after three off-season surgeries?

3) Who are the A’s most attractive trade chips? Besides Haren and Blanton, the A’s could probably get some interesting offers for closer Huston Street, outfielder Nick Swisher and second baseman Mark Ellis (though it’s extremely doubtful the latter two are going anywhere).

1) Will they really trade Tim Lincecum? It appears they’re prepared to do so, if the prize is the middle-of-the-order bat they need so much. I’d hate to see that, because Lincecum is so fun to watch. But if you had to choose, I’d pick Matt Cain over Lincecum, because Cain, according to scouts, will probably prove to be more durable and has a nasty streak when he pitches that you just can’t teach.

2) Do they really need a center fielder? Look at it this way. If they can make a play for Aaron Rowand, they should, and they shouldn’t look down their noses at Andruw Jones, either. That said, it’s not worth overpaying for those two, because in Rajai Davis and Dave Roberts, the Giants have two guys who can patrol that patch of green pretty competently. The scary part, of course, is if one of them gets injured, and knowing Roberts’ history, that’s likely a matter of when, not if.

3) Besides Lincecum, who’s the best bait? At this point, perhaps catcher Bengie Molina. He had a fantastic year offensively, so his value may never be higher. Catcher can be replaced, and let’s face it, the Giants likely aren’t going to climb more than one or two rungs in the NL West, no matter who’s behind the plate.


On Bonds (from across the Pond)

Back from vacation and a nice trip across the Pond (the ocean, not the Anahim Ducks’ facility) and no shortage of baseball items to discuss. Let’s get to it:

Bonds’ Indictment: I returned to a bevy of e-mails who thought I must be gloating in the news that Barry Bonds faces federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Can’t say I feel entirely sorry for the man, but the truth is, I lean toward the opinion that he’s been unfairly persecuted. Look, Bonds is no angel, but it’s not like he’s a lone steroids user in a profession of honest athletes. Jemele Hill of ESPN.com wrote a tremendous piece for ESPN.com that really entails most of my feelings about the Bonds indictment. It is, as she writes, like spending five years searching for the crackhead rather than devoting that manpower to the dealer. Remember, Victor Conte skated and he was the builder of BALCO. That so much more time and effort seems to have been devoted toward bringing down Bonds just doesn’t sit right.

I am looking forward to the trial, though. Should be the best CourtTV since O.J.

Incidentally, I got the news while in the Czech Republic, where it was the No. 2 story on SkyNews, the European equivalent of Headline News, so you can’t escape the man anywhere.

Joe Kennedy’s death: One reader e-mailed me Sunday with one simple sentence. “Do you think Kennedy was on ‘roids?” Another wrote: “Do you think he was doing coke?”

The fact that those two questions are even asked in the wake of the death of a 28-year-old father of one (with another on the way) speaks to the sad state of affairs in professional sports and in society. No. 1, how would a sports writer with no ties to Kennedy beyond the occasional, “Hello,” in the clubhouse, be qualified to answer that question? No. 2, whatever caused Kennedy’s death will be revealed in 6-8 weeks when his autopsy is complete. I can understand that those questions might be brimming under the surface — athletes have themselves, alone, to blame for that one — but the eagerness some of you have to find out the answer, and the apparent glee some of you seem to want to take in the sordid details of the former A’s reliever’s death is sick.

— A-Rod’s return to the Yankees: Love it, if only because it shows why agents should be permanently banned from the sporting landscape. Scott Boras emerges from this fiasco with his true colors exposed. Alex Rodriguez comes out of it a likeable figure, and the Yankees, in the end, retain one of baseball’s greatest-ever hitters and remain a force in the American League East.

More tomorrow.


Steroided out

Got an OK response last week when I threw out three questions for the readers to discuss here on the blog, so with vacation beckoning, I’m gonna go that route again. Here are some questions on which local baseball fans should have some opinion. I’ll be back at the beginning of December with regular filings on the blog again.

1) Have you the fan grown weary of the steroid revelations? Each new report serves only to reinforce what we already know: That most players in the 1990s and early 2000s should be viewed with a skeptical eye. All due credit to reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, but nothing should shock us anymore.

2) What does A’s second baseman Mark Ellis have to do to earn a Gold Glove? This year, he loses out to Detroit’s Placido Polanco, who got the nod for his zero-error season. I’ve seen them both a lot, and bottom line, Ellis gets to and makes plays on balls on which Polanco doesn’t even come close. But Polanco has a better bat, and that sticks out to the voters. All of which doesn’t reflect highly on managers, because they fill out the ballot.

3) If you’re the A’s, do you try to win for one more season or do you rebuild? Seattle Times baseball columnist Larry Stone does a nice job breaking down their situation as they head into the winter.


Bonds may boycott Hall of Fame.

Barry Bonds is busy making friends and influencing people. Truly, we can’t be surprised at anything this guy does anymore, can we?

Question to the readers: Does anybody care if he decides to boycott the Hall of Fame? About the only thing it means to me is that he won’t speak at his eventual induction ceremony, and the privately, Hall officials would probably pop champagne at the thought of that.

Maybe Barry is simply trying to prove that he, not Alex Rodriguez, is the biggest narcissist in baseball.