To start with, I am not a Barry Bonds fan. I have had access to the Giants clubhouse for 15 years now, and while Bonds was a Giant, not once did I go anywhere close to his locker. In fact, the thought never occurred to me.
I also have a bunch of his 1987 rookie Topps cards (and one 1986 extended set card) and, well, if you look at the slim kid in that card, and compare him to the Michelin Man Bonds became in the late 90's, it is almost impossible to believe the slugger's transmogrification into the tire icon was organic.
Similarly, I stayed away from Bonds and his locker because everything I ever heard was that the slugger was surly. And being at the yard is supposed to be fun. So I don't want an experience with a player to overshadow the basic enjoyment I get from doing my baseball chores.
I have written before that even if Bonds loses 250 homers from his stats as "artificially induced," he still has more than convincing numbers to be Hall of Fame worthy, whether I like him or not. Whether the Baseball Writers Association of America likes him or not. At this point I believe this to be true if Bonds' ex-wives, ex-lovers, ex-partners, and other ex-hangers-on, take the stand to testify against their former money source.
In fact, I found myself letting out a cheer and fist pump on Thursday afternoon when I read that Bonds physician, Dr. Arthur Ting deflated all the proffering and finger pointing and sourpuss accusations levied against the home run king during his perjury trial. Just like watching some surprise witness or piece of information revealed on my guilty pleasure, "Law and Order," (just the original, not any of the spinoffs) and seeing Sam Waterston try figure his sometimes sanctimonious way around, Ting totally disarmed all accusers.
The good doctor denied telling former Bonds business partner Steve Hoskins that his patient was juicing, and counteracted former Bonds paramour Kim Bell who pointed to a ton of symptoms indicating HGH use. In prescribing a "legal" steroid for Bonds, Dr. Ting suggested that the side effects of the prescribed "medication" could easily mimic the symptoms of an evil and illegal one.
Which, if I remember my Law and Order lessons well enough, constitutes reasonable doubt. And that should mean the end of this silliness.
For again, I don't like Bonds. But, neither do I like to see people persecuted, let along prosecuted for what amounts to nothing. For, other than the implied lie, Bonds did nothing. During the period when Bonds lived an "enhanced" existence, HGH was not illegal in major league baseball. Not that I advocate cheating, but this would not be the first time in baseballs wonderful, storied, and even sometimes outlaw span where someone played outside the lines. Ask Gaylord Perry, for instance.
The truth is, I see Bonds as sort of a contemporary Jack Johnson (the boxer, not the guitar player): a stellar athlete who knew how good he was, and who refused to play by the ordinary rules. And that pissed off the establishment. Johnson dated white women when the thought of such an act was more than unthinkable, for he did it in the 30's. And, if you know your African American history, you will know that Emmet Till, a 14-year old boy, was beaten to death in Mississippi in 1954 after whistling at a white woman (Till, who was visiting family in the south over the summer was from Chicago, where such an act was at least not a local death penalty offense).
Anyway, whether we like it or not, in America we still do have issues around race, despite the fact that we now have an African American president (sometimes I think because we have an African American president). Being called a liar during the State of the Union, or decried no matter what decision, or how thoughtful (as in full of thought, to make the best decision for us as a country) Obama might be, he is still always wrong to a certain percentage of our population.
And, speaking as someone who is wrong at least as often as right, 100% wrong is, well, wrong.
So, much like Obama, and Johnson, who expatriated to Paris, and owned a pet leopard, and dressed to the nines, Bonds is being vilified for no other reason than who he is. And, yes, he does have some of that tiger's blood, but, whatever else, Bonds does not seem to be a drug addict.
Rafael Palmeiro clearly lied about his steroid use, and no one is going after him. And Roger Clemens is having some issues, but as my Tout bud Glenn Colton, who is one of the attorney team members who beat MLB for public access to their statistic base, said, "If Clemens was my client, he would not be in any trouble at all." "Why?" I asked. "Because he would never have made his statement denying his use. Period. He would have walked away and kept his mouth shut."
Bonds has also mostly been dropped by the baseball world, having no offers to even pinch hit after his Giants contract ended. Even Jason Giambi, who was also sort of raked over the coals after he admitted use--and, well, that shows Bonds what it would have paid to be honest--still has a gig hitting in the majors.
So, baseball, business partners, ex-lovers, and wives, are all the ones the prosecutors are counting on to hang Barry out to dry?
Well, after Dr. Ting, not likely.
So, good for Barry.
By the way, if you have some kind of gut reaction to what I have written above, or think I am way off base, or race baiting, or anything, so be it. It is not my objective. I am simply calling them as I see them.
While we are in that context though, ask yourself if going after a former baseball star, tying up court time, and DA and judge time and expenses is really a proper use of resources these days? If money is so tight, there are surely better ways of making use of our systems that as to whether a baseball player told the truth about his use of a drug that was not illegal to use at the time.
I think there are better things we can spend our money and energy on. And, well, the BBWA will decide if Barry is HOF worthy. That too is out of my hands.