Nov 17, 2007

The Barry Bonds Sagger..........

This past Thursday, Barry Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice – an offence that could land him in Prison for a very long time. I find it particularly noteworthy that the indictment came just 3 months after he broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record. This investigation into steroid use by elite athletes has been going on for 4 years and during that entire time, Bonds never identified by Major League Baseball as testing positive for steroids. Then came the indictment - four counts of perjury, one of obstruction of justice; a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Bond’s personal trainer, Greg Anderson, has spent most of the last year in jail for refusing to testify against his Barry. Interestingly, Anderson was released from prison after the indictment was handed up and refused comment as he walked out. Coincidence? Well, his attorney, Mark Geragos, said the trainer didn't cooperate with the grand jury. Either way - we'll soon find out.

In August, when Bonds became the career home run leader, he flatly rejected any suggestion that the milestone was stained by steroids. At the time, he clearly stated that his record is not tainted. We know now that all that time, the grand jury was quietly building its case against him. "During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for the presence of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing substances for Bonds and other athletes," the indictment said. Prosecutors promised Bonds they wouldn't charge him with any drug-related counts if he testified truthfully. But according to the indictment, Bonds repeatedly denied taking any steroids or performance-enhancing drugs despite evidence to the contrary.

I don’t know if they had enough to go after him before he broke the record, I do know that by making this announcement AFTER he broke the record – they’ve all but sealed his fate in the annals of Baseball History. Whether or not Barry is eventually proven innocent is probably immaterial at this point. Perjury is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and Bonds' lawyers will fight the government at every turn. Most people have already made up their minds anyway - and his career is all but over.

Like Marion Jones, Barry has consistently denied taking Steroids. Unlike Marion though, he’s unlikely to offer a tearful apology, even if proven guilty. I remember reading somewhere that Tim Montgomery – when asked about the consequences of doping, said he would be willing to die after breaking the world record. If indeed Barry did use Steroids – I do wonder if it was all worth it. He was already worth millions back in 2000 and could have gone on to the hall of fame, with an untainted record. At best, he’s guilty of associating with a Personal Trainer who may have received performance enhancing drugs from Balco founder – Victor Conte. At worst, he’s a dope cheat and will go down in history as a fraud.

It doesn’t help that he’s not exactly Mr. Personality and he hasn’t endeared himself to the Baseball fans or the press. Many people underestimate the value of a positive, cheerful personality. Many more – don’t understand the principle of reciprocity or the value of being a giving person. When I think about Barry Bonds career, I’m reminded of another Bay Area star – by the name of Earvin Effay Johnson, Jr. Remember the year 1991, when Magic announced that he had aids? I’ve never seen such an outpouring of Sympathy for an Aids Sufferer who admitted that he contracted the disease by cheating on his Wife. BET even held a special concert to honor him. I don’t impose my religious beliefs on anyone – but you can’t convince me that God didn’t spare that man’s life. I encourage anyone who reads this blog post – to check out his Profile on Wikipedia, especially the HIV Announcement section.

Had Barry been a different person, I doubt that he would face the same level of negative scrutiny. No one’s talking about Jason Giambi – who admitted to Steroid use doesn’t seem to be held to the same standards in the court of public opinion. What about Mark McGwire? I wonder what he's thinking about today.

You’ll recall that when Mark McGuire appeared before the House Government Reform Committee to discuss his alleged steroid use. He offered this tearful opening statement.

“Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers 'No,' he simply will not be believed; if he answers 'Yes,' he risks public scorn and endless government investigations.... My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty."
When asked if he was asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, McGwire once again responded: I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject. So, is Mark guilty or not?
While no legal action has been taken against McGwire, in baseball or out of it, his testimony apparently cost him public affection and support. When his Cooperstown eligibility began in 2006-07, McGwire received less than a quarter of the vote from the very same baseball writers who had treated him as an icon.

I think it’s unfortunate that Barry Bonds finds himself in this position – if he’s guilty of doping and lied about it, he should face the consequences of his actions. .

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