Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black Thursday

Nearly four years since Barry Bonds testified in front of a grand jury regarding his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, the federal government on Thursday finally indicted baseball's all-time home run king on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

I've read the indictment and my question, like many others, is why did this take so long?

Were they hoping his nagging injuries would finally get the best of him and his assault on the most hallowed record in sports would be stopped in its tracks?

Perhaps they thought Bonds would eventually fail a drug test which would of course end the chase for 755.

I'm sure all along they believed Bonds' personal trainer and friend Greg Anderson would eventually crack under the pressure of extended incarceration and provide them with the ammunition to take down the so-called "big fish" of the BALCO investigation.

Whatever the reason, I remain skeptical of the entire process while at the same time feeling a much stronger feeling of sadness and disappointment as it pertains to the greatest baseball player I have ever seen with my 27-year-old eyes.

As the sporting world has found out over the last few months with the outcomes of both the Michael Vick case as well as Marion Jones' admission of guilt, when the feds indict someone they most likely have a case that can be proved.

With that knowledge in hand I find myself still not questioning any of Bonds' on-field accomplishments, but certainly doubting his pride and arrogance as character issues that may ultimately send him to prison.

As bad as this is for the legacy of Barry Bonds, I still feel he is a Hall of Fame player. Whether or not he gets voted in is another issue altogether. But in an era of baseball where no one really knows how many players have used or are still using performance enhancing drugs, I can only conclude that the playing field on which Bonds performed was indeed level.

Unlike Vick and Jones however, I have an uneasy feeling that Bonds will fight this to the bitter end as he clearly believes in his heart and mind that he did nothing wrong. I suppose that belief could help him in the end beat the indictment, but clearly it has already damaged him irrevocably in the eyes of most.

The sad part about all of this is that it never had to get this far and the people who should be on trial for the steroid issue in baseball, namely the player's association and baseball itself, should be the ones with their reputations and livelihoods on the line.

It's always seemed terribly unfair to me that those in positions of power within the game turned a blind eye to performance enhancing drugs because at the time it suited their needs from a financial standpoint.

Now that the drugs that were allowed to infiltrate the great game of baseball by the game of baseball have cast a cloud of public rage and disappointment there's this rush to find some sort of "closure" to an issue that could have been dealt with much sooner.

Lets say Bonds is indeed found guilty of of the crimes he's been accused of and there is no longer doubt that he knew what he was doing when he used the cream and the clear and whatever else, are we supposed to believe that the whole steroid thing is over? Because it seems to me that's what baseball and the federal government would like us to believe.

My own father has served on a criminal grand jury, and it's usually a very black and white process in that if there is enough evidence to go forward, they go forward. If there isn't, they don't.

Still, in this case it apparently took not two, not three, but four years to come to the conclusion that they had enough evidence to move forward with the indictment. That fact in and of itself stinks if you ask me.

The fact that parts of the sealed testimony were leaked seems to me to be the perfect motive for the feds to make sure they got Bonds no matter what. They were so desperate at one point that they were trying to pin charges of tax evasion on Bonds, charges that they also knew would not stick, but they pursued because they just had to get him.

Since the beginning, the witch-hunt feeling to all of this has been the most troubling part in my opinion and today's news appears to confirm my feelings to that extent.

If Bonds is found to have perjured himself and the federal government finally gets their man then he will have to suffer the consequences of those actions. Until then I suppose there is nothing left to do but wait and see what comes of all of this.

I just hope that my favorite baseball team has the guts to not cower in a corner when this whole thing comes to a close. Regardless of what Bonds did he was the one who was primarily responsible for getting the beautiful ballpark built and basically resuscitating baseball in San Francisco, and he deserves to be given a proper ceremony retiring his number 25 as one of the all-time greats to ever wear a Giants uniform.

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