It’s seems like everyone and their brother is talking about the Barry Bonds indictment nowadays.
Unfortunately, I am not any different.
However, unlike MOST of the stuff I’ve been inundated with, I am not as eager to convict Bonds, throw him in prison and rip him of his accomplishments. It’s all a little asinine if you ask me…even worse if you put it in the context of the game Bonds’ plays (played?).
So what are we dealing with here? The way I see it (and I’m no legal expert), is that Bonds MIGHT have perjured himself (i.e. “lied”) about KNOWINGLY taking steroids. You know that whole, “do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc.”…yeah, they’re contending Bonds did not.
Perjury is a tough nut to crack though. I mean, it IS possible Bonds stated the facts as far as he knew them. Not probable…but possible. I suspect that if they don’t cop a plea, Bonds’ lawyers will go that route.
Which brings me to Rafael Palmeiro.
Here’s a guy who sat in front of Congress and emphatically denied the use of steroids. Then, six weeks later, he failed a drug test. Months after that…he was suspended by Major League Baseball.
Wait a second…you mean to tell me that he denied usage in front of Congress, failed a test administered by Major League Baseball. but was never charged with perjury? Yup. Not enough evidence apparently.
But what about his stats…surely they’ve removed them from the record books, right?
Last time I checked, Palmeiro’s name resides, most notably, both on the 3000 hit and 500 homerun lists. Heck, Palmeiro is only one of FOUR players to have done both! Where’s that same asterisk that everyone is screaming for in regards to Bonds? I guess Palmeiro isn’t the star that Barry is.
What about slugger turned Surreal Lifer Jose Canseco’s numbers? What about the late Ken Caminiti’s 1996 National league MVP award? These are guys who have also admitted to steroid use, but have not had any of their numbers or accolades stripped from them.
Jason Giambi has publicly admitted to using steroids, but he’ll be there in the spring when the New York Yankees start prepping for the 2008 season.
So, again, why is there a public lynching-like atmosphere surrounding Bonds and whether or not his 762 should have a huge asterisk next to it?
Answer: Bonds was TOO good.
That’s right…the guy was a stud before and more of a stud after he started (alledgedly) juicing. How much better did it make him? Who knows? Who cares, really?
Over the last few seasons, I have heard PLENTY of writers and “experts” say “Bonds was a Hall of Famer BEFORE he started using steroids”. Regardless of how the whole perjury thing plays out, I wonder now if those same writers will take their own words into account in five years when Bonds is Hall eligible.
Surely, a conviction can’t cloud their judgment, right?
In 1980, Fergie Jenkins was found to be in possession of both cocaine and marijuana. He was banned for life by then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. The next year (thanks to an arbiter), Jenkins was back in the Majors. Then, in his third year of eligibility, Cooperstown opened its doors…ironically the same year that Gaylord Perry waltzed in.
Perry admittedly doctored baseballs throughout his storied career and even helped pen his aptly titled autobiography “Me and the Spitter”. I guess engaging in an illegal activity on the mound is okay if you make jokes about it.
If Bonds is found guilty of perjury, he could, like Jenkins, be banned from baseball. Granted, Bud Selig isn’t exactly the best in making decisions (anyone remember the 2002 All-Star game?)…but maybe he’ll surprise us. Sure, it took a FEDERAL GRAND JURY (and not Major League Baseball) to go after Bonds, but who knows…maybe Bud will change his stripes.
If so, Bonds’ numbers will SURELY get that asterisk that the world is clamoring for, right?
I’m not so sure.
Last time I checked, Pete Rose still holds the all-time hits record. Is it because he was banned because he gambled on baseball games as a manager and not as a player? Perhaps. I have a really, REALLY hard time believing that once Rose was hired on as a full-time manager (remember, he WAS a player-manager first) was when he decided to start gambling hard core cold turkey though. Something tells me that it doesn’t work that way.
Wait…maybe it’s because Pete Rose bested noted sonofabitch Ty Cobb? More than likely, it is because gambling (while as a player OR a manager) isn’t as much of a game changer as steroids or HGH COULD be.
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, while not the ONLY member of the 1919 Chicago White Sox to get banned for their involvement in throwing the World Series is the most notable since, more than likely, he would be in the Hall of Fame otherwise. While the extent of Jackson’s involvement is not known…he and his teammates were involved in game fixing. But nowhere are their numbers emblazoned with baseball’s scarlet letter, er, asterisk.
So, again, why the outcry for Bonds?
Here’s a guy who has been accused of perjuring himself in front of a grand jury. He did NOT fail a drug test administered by Major League Baseball, nor did he (alledgedly) take any substances that were at the time on the MLB’s banned list.
Quite simply, he was a great player who did whatever he could to be the BEST ever. He made no bones about it and made himself TOO good for everyone’s liking. It’s okay that some of these other guys took steroids…they weren’t threatening any records like Barry did.
As Nick Underhill pointed out, Roger Maris’ 61 homers was marred because people didn’t want to accept the fact that he (not Mickey Mantle) bested Babe Ruth. As a society, we accepted that, in 1998, Mark McGwire could beat Maris, but when Bonds did it…something OBVIOUSLY wasn’t right.
Before Bonds even broke Hank Aaron’s all-time record…people were already heralding Alex Rodriguez as the next home run king. It doesn’t matter that he’s 250 behind…“he’s gonna get there” praised the minions. I guess it is always better to be the guy who replaces the guy who replaced the guy.
Until then, Barry Lamar Bonds is MY home run king and a first ballot Hall of Famer…no questions asked. Should he be convicted of perjury and/or banned from Major League Baseball…my hope is that his numbers still reside where they are today.
The guy can bring it…always could. He just got too good for public consumption.