Nothing too controversial about either assumption, right? Right. But it's sure fun.
The two of us both think that the above assumptions are true. But we were wondering: who did it better? Was it Bonds and his 73 bombs in 2001, and 711 (and counting!) for his career? Or was he behind the times? Did McGwire—first to hit 70, three consecutive years of 50+ -- do it better?
Which guy's steroids regimen was the way to go?
We couldn't decide on numbers alone. It was too close to call. So, we went to the cardboard. We took a look at their baseball cards from 1987 through 2002 and commented along the way. Which one was more subtle? Who seemed to magically transform from mild-mannered David Banner to the Incredible Hulk? Which one has cooler hair?
This is important stuff, people!
Walk with us through history, as we ask the fundamental question on every baseball fan's mind: "Mac or Bonds: Who Roided It Up Better?"
Wow. We thought Kate Moss was thin. And we also forgot how incredibly stupid looking the Pirates logo was back then.
Remember when guys posed for baseball cards? Anyway, two comments about McGwire. (1) He still has a neck. (2) The barrel of his bat may be larger than his arms. As for Barry, we're sure he wasn't taking steroids here. He may not have been taking anything. Get that man a sandwich!
Try as they might, Upper Deck couldn't make Mac look menacing. He does, however, look proportional still. Barry looks like he's more likely to steal a base than homer—which is probably accurate, given his 32 swipes compared to 19 homers (in 159 games!) that year.
For those of you card enthusiasts out there, this is the year that Donruss had a lot of intentional mistakes in their print run to drive up prices error cards. Apparently, they got body doubles for these two guys, as both still appear on the small side. Yes, yes, McGwire is starting to add some bulk, but all Barry has added is his trademark bad attitude.
Still pretty small. Bonds we can understand, being managed by Jimmy "Skeletor" Leyland. But we're pretty sure McGwire met Jose Canseco by now. And have you noticed that Bonds is showing less and less stirrup over the years? (If you did, why? Some fetish?)
Maybe it's just the angle or the puffy-face of exasperation, but it certainly looks like Barry is starting to grow some muscle—in his walk year. Barry, Barry, Barry—that's a big red flashing light. Silly. Big Mac, on the other hand, doesn't look so big all of a sudden. Canseco would leave for Texas before this season started, but the pic had to be taken during 1991, while the Bash Brothers were still by the Bay. Your guess is as good as ours.
At this point, we're about to give credit to McGwire for having the better roid regimine. Why? Well, as we said before, Barry may have set off alarm bells on his way into free agency. He then masks his "second-puberty growth spurt" with body armor, replacing the wristbands of yore. Mark, on the other hand, is noticeably bigger. But that's not the real change. Check out McGwire's new goatee and of course, the mullet. The mullet, distracting steroid-snoopers since 1993. (Who needs BALCO?)
We apologize for the tilted McGwire card—it was the only one we could find that demonstrated Mark's ever-expanding arms/legs/chest and, of course, hair. Barry, on the other hand, appears to have shrunk, giving an ounce of credence to the line that pre-1995, he was drug free. Or maybe he just had the flu on picture week.
Thanks to some guy named tedd/b1941, we get to see even more mullet. See? It really does distract from the gain in muscle mass. Kudos to Mr. McGwire—your regimen has its benefits. Barry? Well, we still can't tell if he's bulking up much. It appears like he could be, but that may be that whole puffy-face thing. On the plus sided, he's reupped that endorsement deal with whomever makes those stylin' wristbands. We hear they're Victor Conte's version of Nicoderm.
McGwire is H-U-G-E. (Rumor has it that this picture was taken as Mac raced for third, hoping to leg out a triple. We know the rumor exists, because we started it about three seconds ago.) Bonds is biggish, and 100% stirrup free. But more importantly, what's that growing on his chin? Is that a -- gasp! -- goatee? No stirrups, more facial hair. Is Barry trying to divert our attention?
By 1997, the mullet is no longer in style. (Please note that we are not implying that it was ever in style.) McGwire cuts it, and suddenly, all that's left is that immense amount of muscle. We think that if he, like that Giambi fellow playing at Yankee Stadium, never cut his hair, the world would never be the wiser. Minus points to Mark for the haircut—you blew your cover! Barry, on the other hand, is beginning to gain weight, and it's certainly not in the form of brain cells. The quote on the card is a reference to the fact that he had only 33 homers in 1995. He had 42 in 1996—and 40 steals. For what that's worth.
Mark regains some masking points by readopting the mullet. It's hard to tell if Barry is getting larger in the picture above, but there are two reasons to be concerned: one, his goatee is gone (a bold move) and two, the otherwise uber-annoyed Bonds is smiling. Must be a roid-rage like mood swing.
Jesus McGwire, Future Hall of Famer. Seriously, look how he gazes upwards, his head surrounded in rays of white exuberance. And by now, Mac is getting credit (along with Ripken for the streak and Sosa for being berry berry good to us) for saving post-1995 baseball. One can totally understand why Barry would look for an edge. Basically, he took one look at "McGwire, Savior" and said "I say fuck you, Jo'Boo, I do it myself." (And he didn't even have to sacrifice a live chicken!) Barry is expanding, yes, but he's trying to reign in the arm muscles by donning the body armor. Not a bad ploy. +1 in his column.
McGwire isn't actually screaming here. He's so juiced up that all his blood vessels contracted at the same time, making his fist clench, his mouth open, and that big vein in his forehead throb like a week-old hemmroid. In other words, he's starting to look like Ken Caminiti. This is also the year Mac goes down for the count while the Cards fall in the NLCS. In short, McGwire's lead in the Better Roider Battle is shrinking faster than his sperm count. Barry, on the other hand, is looking sleek in his otherwise inflated body. The facial hair is gone, but it's been replaced by something called "athleticism." Mark, look that word up, 'cuz you could have used some, bud.
One bats right. One bats left. One's white. The other, black. Mr. Cardinal wears an ankle guard. Mr. San Fran protects his elbow. Other than that, these guys could be twins. We'll call 2001 a tie.
At this point, it's pretty clear that both are eating pig at the Rabbi's barbecue. We decided to continue our endeavor through these cards anyway. Why? Because we couldn't pass up showing a picture of McGwire groundout out into a double play (or striking out embarrassingly, whichever—either way, it's the epitome of suck). And we really couldn't pass up this picture of Bonds. Look at it closely. It's not a photo. It's some artist's rendition. Bonds looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with the arm of a cyborg. And no, that's not a complement.
And just to give you one more thing to go on, let's give you each guy's rookie card. For comparison's sake—and because man, do they look different:
So, who roided it up better? You be the judge. Leave your comments below.