A tepid Bonds verdict reveals an outbreak of Steroids Fatigue

Is that another subpoena Barry Bonds espies? Surely not. (AP photo)

Does Barry Bonds espy another subpoena? Surely not. (AP photo)

We just witnessed a jury of Barry Bonds’ peers throw up its collective hands and say, “With all the real crooks in the world, you expect us to hammer a guy who lied about cheating in some dumb sport?” We just were handed the clearest possible message that baseball’s Steroids Era will die not with a big hit of a verdict but with a shrug of indifference.

Message: Move on,  please.

I’m not sure if the jury in San Francisco got it right legally, but in the grand scheme this verdict was Solomonic. We all know Bonds took steroids and then lied about taking them, but you know what? He wasn’t the lone ranger. And the attempt to make Bonds the poster prisoner for misdeeds so widespread as to be the rule of baseball and not the exception had become an embarrassing bit of overkill.

Oddly enough, it was overkill that brought Barry Lamar Bonds to this place. He was already a Hall of Fame hitter, but he saw Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — lesser talents, in his regal eyes — become the apples of baseball’s eye in the Great Home Run Chase of 1998, and Bonds said to himself, “You want homers? I’ll give you homers.”

McGwire stopped at 70. Bonds hit 73. But by then baseball as a corporate entity and we the admiring public had begun to get suspicious, and where Big Mac and Slammin’ Sammy were beloved — Sports Illustrated named them its co-Sportsmen of the Year in 1998 — the sneering Bonds could never be. He got too big. He hit too many home runs. He made the game unfair.

But then a strange thing happened: In the Javert-like pursuit of Bonds, the feds rendered him almost — almost, I said — sympathetic. Cheat on Wall Street and you can get away with it. Cheat in baseball and it’s a federal case?

The lies Bonds allegedly told? They came more than seven years ago. He hasn’t played since 2007. Is there some civic need for this man to be taken off the streets in the year 2011?

Through testing and suspensions, baseball has — years too late, but what do you expect from baseball? — begun to distance itself from steroids. Do we really need to see Bonds (or Roger Clemens, or anyone) on trial for telling lies? Will it polish their tarnished sport ex post facto?

Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which seems the jury’s concession that Bonds did something legally wrong even if it remains unclear just what. A mistrial was declared on the three counts of perjury, which suggests these 12 citizens are as weary and woozy as the rest of us. It’s believed Bonds won’t go to jail for this one conviction, and surely the U.S. government has better ways to spend more millions of taxpayer money than to retry him for lying.

I’ve long believed baseball would be better served by granting amnesty for steroid use. Let the sinners become apostles, telling kids: “I did wrong, but here’s why you shouldn’t.” Being its silly self, baseball has sought to have others — Hall of Fame voters, U.S. prosecutors — do its dirty work. This tepid verdict should serve as the inspiration for the sport to say: You were wrong in cheating and we were wrong in turning our managerial head, and now it’s time for forgiveness.

The constant finger-pointing — “He cheated! And him, too! And that guy over there!” — serves no purpose. In a sporting era where numbers and bodies were artificially inflated, can we ever know for sure that anybody didn’t cheat? What if a player on steroids hit a home run off a pitcher on steroids? In the interest of competitive balance, would that have been OK? And for all you stat geeks: How many of Bonds’ 762 homers wouldn’t have been homers had he ingested nothing stronger than Powerade?

By now, we’re all informed enough to know that bad things happened in baseball a while ago. But that’s the point: It was a while ago. Bonds has retired. Clemens is retired. The sport is moving forward. There’s no cause for our government to keep fighting a battle that was long ago lost.

By Mark Bradley

92 comments Add your comment

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:06 pm

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
7:07 pm

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:08 pm

I must agree Mark. Why spend tax dollars on trying to make a martyer out of a rich former athlete. better to spend that money keeping the streets safe.

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:09 pm

its funny. i remember the Babe hit 714 and the Hammer hit 755. Got no idea how many the michelin man hit.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2011
7:09 pm

An epic First fight between famous names. Kudos to todd grantham. Condolences to Clusters.

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
7:10 pm

When Barry Bonds says, “please pass the cream” he’s not drinking coffee. We was always suspicious of him when we saw him trying to put his baseball cap on. Talk about a big head!

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:11 pm

i wouldnt want to see Bonds, McGuire or it hurts most of all, Clemens in the HOF.

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
7:12 pm

Our post didn’t work. Was it because we used the words “Dairy Queen”?

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:12 pm

ah, but grantham is adding to the conversation, albeit probably incoherently.

Bud Selig

April 13th, 2011
7:13 pm

I never agree with Mark Bradley. I am so afraid to admit that I do so in this instance.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2011
7:13 pm

I’ve given up trying to discern the ways of the filter, Sonny.

Mark Bradley

April 13th, 2011
7:13 pm

Thanks, commissioner. (Another big name!)

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
7:14 pm

We spent the last few minutes changing channels trying to find the Braves game. Once we found it, they are behind 1-0.

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:14 pm

Sonny, didnt you know that Mark bans all comments that contain “dairy” or “queen” in the text?

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:15 pm

hmmmm. sounds like you were actually pulling for a clusters first.

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:15 pm

Mark, have you heard from Mr Naharodny lately?

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
7:16 pm

We used to be a doubles hitter and then we developed a power stroke and started putting them over the fence. The only cream we used was from Dairy Queen.

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:18 pm

instead of putting a rich man in jail, just fine him enough to cover the state of california’s budget deficit.

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
7:18 pm

We have a Facebook account now and you-know-who wants to be friends. We told him we’d consider it when he passes 25 homeruns. We’re already friends with Mark and Stinky Wintes.

Gov Jerry Brown

April 13th, 2011
7:19 pm

hey coach that sounds like a great idea!

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:21 pm

is it Mario Mendoza?

Beast from the East

April 13th, 2011
7:25 pm

Mark,
I agree with you 100%. This was total BS and I am irate that my tax dollars were spent on this witch hunt. MLB did everything but supply these guys with the stuff and then have to waste my money by getting the feds to try and clean up their mess years later. The powers that be in MLB suck and their product is dying a slow and painful death. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch.

todd grantham

April 13th, 2011
7:25 pm

what does Barry Bonds reveal about us? We will pay any price to see a freak at work.

Beast from the East

April 13th, 2011
7:31 pm

“what does Barry Bonds reveal about us? We will pay any price to see a freak at work.”

Well said. The NFL has totally taken over the American sports audience and you don’t think those guys are juiced? Most of us fans just want to be entertained by our professional sports. The ‘purists” need to stick to the Little League World Series. It’s the closest they’ll ever come to a level playing field……..except for the 18 year olds from Latin America. LOL!

Nasty

April 13th, 2011
7:34 pm

Alan Selig* has done more to ruin the game of baseball than any player. I am tired of this Bonds saga and if the government truly was going after someone for lying or obstructing justice why not nail McGuire to the fence? Or Sosa, or Palmiero?!?!?! Palmiero shook his finger, looked in the faces of Congress and denied ever taking roids. Less than a year later he was busted yet he was never tried. Tired of our government and their dirty tricks. Change we can beleive in???? Please.

don baker

April 13th, 2011
7:37 pm

Marion Jones, one of the truly good people in sports, got a six month jail sentence for being truthful after humbling herself in front of the entire nation. The only other person in this whole sordid affair to receive any significant prison time was the lawyer who leaked the information to the San Francisco Chronicle, which let the world know exactly what the true story was. Yet you want this douchebag to walk away clean because he stonewalled and lied. This is about more than baseball and steroids. It is about justice. He will get a slap on the wrist, but that will not change what he is, not just a juicer but a liar and cheat. Shame on you, Mark Bradley.

GTBob

April 13th, 2011
7:47 pm

It’s hard to believe that the Bonds saga is still going at this point and that it could continue going. The hate for Bonds must be strong. The guy has paid his dues at this point. Can’t we just forget about him and move on? Do we really need to throw more tax payer money down the drain?

Worm

April 13th, 2011
7:52 pm

Roger Maris needs his record back along with Hammerin’ Hank!

Paul in RDU

April 13th, 2011
7:57 pm

Beast from the East

I have to agree with some of your 7:31 post. I am supposed to believe that 150 lb cyclists riding in the Tour de France are taking steroids and maybe HGH but 350 lb NFL linemen is a sport paying millions got that way due to weight training and eating right?

MitchC

April 13th, 2011
7:57 pm

Mark, I agree with you about this. People commit perjury about far worse things. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating what Bonds did. It was wrong.., but.. how about doing a witch hunt about something more important.. say.. men who lie about their earnings to a court.. to pay an unfair amount of.. or no.. child support. Bonds is just a rich jerk athlete, who did a bad thing.

Hopefully, the game can move on from this, and the players can just play. Few if any people care about Bonds anymore. I’m more interested in whether the Braves will win the wild card, then I am in Bonds.

OldTimer

April 13th, 2011
7:59 pm

Baseball players aren’t heroes. They never were and never will be.

OldTimer

April 13th, 2011
8:00 pm

They don’t know how to make an honest dollar, ask Chipper.

Paul in RDU

April 13th, 2011
8:01 pm

@don baker
You forgot about Trevor Graham. He is the coach who sent the hypodermic with one of the drugs to USADA and he went to jail. His son TJ is doing well for NCSU fortunately.

Worm

April 13th, 2011
8:03 pm

Mark, I can’t believe none of the AJC sportwriters has commented on Jesse Outlar’s death..he was an icon and the old sportwriter’s roundtable on channel 2 was a precursor to ESPN sports reporters.
I can still envision Harry Mehre,Furman, Jesse and Jim Minter making their picks and lamenting what happened last weekend.

mecq

April 13th, 2011
8:25 pm

As if he was the only one to partake. Mark McGuire admitted publically and in front of Congress that he did use steroids and the act was sanctioned by the Coaches, and Owners. Guess who owned the Texas Rangers at the time McGuire was using steroids..??? So Bond walks. As he should..!!! And please let’s not revisit this issue any further. He is a superior athlete, who was surrounded by superior athletes growing up. Baseball is his legacy. Not all athletes are raised on Government Assistance. !!!!!

moorman

April 13th, 2011
8:32 pm

baseball was forever ruined by steriods. i mean, its the fact you cant say who did what and where. the stats dont mean nothing anymore…………..

Sonny Clusters

April 13th, 2011
8:34 pm

We was noticing Chipper can’t catch anything hit to his left or his right. Not even two steps to his left or right. Let’s hope they hit everything right to him the rest of the night. Uh, right to him.

Free4all

April 13th, 2011
8:51 pm

Just let everyone use PEDs already. The records are shot. The justice system is shot. Why pretend that we’re protecting some sacred when God knows everyone and their mother is using. Selig 100% complicit. Owners 100% complicit. They should be going to jail more than anything. Barry Bonds, clean for many many years, still one of the greatest of all time.

Racism 101

April 13th, 2011
8:57 pm

Most players were taking steriods of some kind but their stats still didn’t amount to sh*t. Bonds gets attention because he did so well above what everyone else was doing. Then he gets punished for it. Total farce if you asked me. A witchunt pure and simple. What did Bonds obstruct BTW? It wasn’t a criminal trial. He also had immunity for heavens sake. This country is going down!!!

vkmo

April 13th, 2011
8:57 pm

Bonds is guilty. Imprison him and throw the keys away

"Chef" Tim Dix

April 13th, 2011
9:01 pm

Taking the fifth shall be known going forward as taking the clear and cream.

dawg4u

April 13th, 2011
9:03 pm

When your head gets just as big as or bigger than everything else you’re trying to grow then the excuse of not knowingly taking steroids is laughable. Didn’t you get a clue about your hat size growing from a 6 3/4 to between 9 and 10 make you wonder what was going on? This is an absolute sham. In the ‘91 NLCS, Barry Bonilla made Bonds look small by comparison and 10 years later Bond’s is bigger and hitting 70 homers a year instead of 30 something. Sure, just a coincendence.

dawg4u

April 13th, 2011
9:05 pm

I meant Bobby Bonilla not Barry Bonilla!

Phillies, Class of the NL

April 13th, 2011
9:13 pm

Phillies:

a) great
b) really great
c) historically great

dawg4u

April 13th, 2011
9:21 pm

@ Worm you are so right about Jesse Outlar. I loved reading his columns in the old Atl. Constitution. He definitely held our sports stars accountable and always used the term “goat’s cloak to define someone who had cost the home team a game. He was a UGA graduate who always told it like it was. I still miss reading Jesse in the morning and Furman Bisher in the afternoon Journal. RIP Jesse!

SomewhereinGA

April 13th, 2011
9:37 pm

I have two friends that played MLB….one for the Cardinals and one for the Indians. They both told me that, while playing (recent years) it was common knowledge that 85-90% of them were on the juice…and that was the ones they KNEW about! Basically everyone in MLB was on the juice once they hit the highest level. If it is a lie, they told it, not me. That being said, Bonds is a lying piece of whale crap in my eyes…..he did it, he knew it, we knew it, he knew that we knew…what a farce.

benchwarmer

April 13th, 2011
9:42 pm

Well, I’m no fan of Barry but it is rediculous that someone always has to be the fall guy when it was some corporate bigwigs that created the problem. At least in the sence of turning a blind eye. Take the ownersto court then I’ll believe some real is starting to happen. Until then just leave Barry alone. He must suffer enough already just being who and what he is. One of the worlds first clas no class jerks.

Soapy Johnson

April 13th, 2011
9:44 pm

Another great player taken down by the evil flax seed oil …
http://placeitonluckydan.com/2011/03/barry-bonds-head-go-to-trial/

steve

April 13th, 2011
9:47 pm

Mark,

I believe the point here is the fact he was questioned in a federal grand jury and lied. Period. It doesn’t matter what he lied about or why he was there, he LIED TO A FEDERAL GRAND JURY. In this country you don’t do that.

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 13th, 2011
9:56 pm

This never would have happened, if Bud Selig was alive.