The Bonds Trial
(originally written 2/19/12)
Let’s rewind back to March 2011.
While one Giants legend, Willie Mays, accompanied the San Francisco Giants’ World Series trophy during its celebratory voyage to New York City (the team’s original home), another Giants legend prepared to fight for his freedom in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. A fight he was likely, but hardly guaranteed, to win.
It had been three long years since Barry Bonds’ original indictment on perjury charges, but it seemed like 23, didn’t it?
After he passed Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list in early 2006—a leap that took nearly two calendar years due to Bonds’ knee problems—he was quoted as saying, “I’m glad it’s over.” The same can be said about the government’s efforts to bring the home run king to apparent justice.
One way or the other, it just needed to end. Think about all that had happened in and out of the sports world during the time Bonds was originally indicted (November 2007) through the date of his trial (March/April 2011). The NBA’s Lakers won two championships, and the Celtics one. There were two more Harry Potter follow-up films, with a third just wrapping production. The company I worked for at the time, now 1,000+ customers strong, did not exist when Bonds was first brought up on perjury charges.
By most expert accounts, Bonds wasn’t going to jail unless Greg Anderson did a sudden about-face and testified that he A) shot Bonds up with juice, or B) the urine samples seized from his home were indeed Bonds’. You may recall a mid-2010 news story outlining prosecutorial evidence deemed inadmissible in Bonds’ trial by a judge; those samples were the evidence but without Anderson’s testimony, they’re worthless against Bonds. And Anderson, betrayed by the government in his eyes, was never going to testify. You’ll see Bonds on the Giants’ active roster again before Anderson ever gives him up.
This writer hoped those experts were correct. Not because I didn’t think Bonds was guilty. He’s guilty. He intentionally took steroids and he tried to cover it up. Before you say “Then he deserves to be punished!”, know that he has been punished. His career ended before he wanted it to. His body and his reputation are shot and he might not get into the Hall of Fame. People he trusted turned on him, some by choice. Lawyers have sapped up much of his finances. His marriage is over and his son has legal problems of his own. Bonds earned a record 688 intentional free passes as a player; there'd be no #689 in regard to these charges.
Very few other occasions generated the buzz, the excitement, or the magic that a successful Barry Bonds at-bat did—especially during the 2001-2004 era—and yours truly made certain to be firmly planted in-seat for every one of them. But Barry Bonds hasn’t had an at-bat in a very long time, and based on what I’ve read and witnessed firsthand about Bonds the person, I’ll just say it is difficult for me to feel sympathetic toward him, or to exert any form of bias solely because of his ties to the Giants or my own personal admiration of his baseball skillz. If he had gone to jail, I doubt I’d have spearheaded the “Free Barry” movement. (Now, if it were Barry White, that’s another story—that guy was celestial in the Davis household growing up. But I’m not here to talk about the past.)
Yet, I wanted Bonds to “whup they ass” in court for this one reason only: so the whole charade will be over. The original grand jury testimony occurred in late 2003. Over seven years before the trial, and who knows how many dollars ago. Seven years of Bonds walking in and out of courthouses in suits. Seven years of the greatest (San Francisco) Giant ever remaining in the news for his abuse of PEDs, rather than his abuse of 449 different pitchers who involuntarily collaborated to make him the Home Run King.
If Bonds had gone to jail, we’d have been subjected to news coverage of his sentencing, transport to jail, any trouble that went down while he was there, and of course, a daily countdown leading up to his release. It would have been Mike Vick to the 10th power, even though the only violence involved in Bonds’ case was Bonds shooting himself in the foot by failing to be forthright from the start.
Bonds’ appeal, according to SFGate.com, isn’t likely to be heard until next year. Win or lose, following said appeal, you’d agree the following words/names/terms should no longer be welcome in baseball’s lexicon:
Armando Rios/Marvin Benard/Bobby Estallela/Benito Santiago in any non-baseball context
Performance-enhancing drugs (wishful thinking)
Let’s not associate any of those items with Major League Baseball ever again. They’re about as interesting as the now-dormant barrybonds.com and they need to be forced out of baseball just like Bonds himself was.
So, to all involved in this appeal—get it over with. FAST. The DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPION Giants were winding down Spring Training when the original trial started back in March 2011 and into the regular season by the time it ended—forcing people like me who must cover all things Giant to place focus on something other than the defending World Champion Giants. That really sucked, and I don’t want to have to do that again during what will hopefully be a 2013 pennant chase.
Sure, there was a very long time when Barry Bonds headlines during baseball season were very good things.
That time has passed…